What are the odds that you spot a newly opened food space serving Greek cuisine in a busy mall? I would say, very rare. A weekend outing had me visiting a week old ERGON Singapore in the sprawling Suntec City Mall . ERGON Foods has a global presence and is known for its branded products and deli-style restaurants. The warm-lit cafe with its aesthetically done interior is a welcome sight to sore eyes. There are tall shelves stocked with authentic Greek ingredients that almost seem like an introduction to a Greek food library. From marinated olives to feta spreads, from premium olive oil to Greek wines, from oat and barley rusks to bread sticks – there is an extensive variety of products pertaining to Greek cuisine that can be found here. The seating space is spread out well so that you can look at these ingredients as you wait for your order.
The menu was as interesting as the food items and desserts that could be seen on the display counter. Let me add that if you have a sweet tooth, you will love the desserts that this place has to offer. They have launched two menus: One for the brunch and daytime and the other is the dinner menu.
Ergon brunch menu
For us, it is almost mandatory to try a feta cheese dish when we eat Greek food. So we ordered the ‘Spinach and Feta Cheese Pie’ which is a classic combination. The phyllo pastry was perfectly flaky which was great to bite into and the non-soggy spinach cooked just right made it a good dish. The feta cheese balanced the salty component of the dish.
Ergon dinner menu
We also ordered the Koulouri which is Greek street food. The dish was presented as a crisp and chewy sesame bagel served on a bed of Greek yogurt and topped with two eggs. The yogurt seems like an unlikely addition – but it works wonderfully in the dish. The dish has great contrasting textures from the bread, egg and yogurt. There’s supposed to be a spicy oil but the dish isn’t spicy at all. Recommended.
Spinach and feta cheese pie at $9
There are some interesting beverages to be tried out at Ergon. Since I had never tried Greek coffee, I promptly ordered the ‘Freddo Cappuccino’ which falls under the iced coffee category. Its one cool coffee topped off with delicious cream and was visually appealing. Taste-wise, it will remind you of a milkshake and is not rich or heavy. Overall, highly recommended.
Koulouri at $22
In Greek culture, the desserts are as important as the meal. One of the best Greek desserts to try is Bougatsa , also known as the sweet milk cream pie. This dessert was made up of scrumptious pastry and filled with custard and topped off with icing sugar. The dish was served warm and that added to the taste and was very good. Since it was cut into small cubes, it also became very easy to eat with a fork. Forget the calories for a change and try it. Highly recommended.
Freddo cappuccino at $6.5
Baklava is a dessert of the Middle East and Mediterranean, and it has numerous variations depending on the country of origin. The ERGON version was sweet and nutty and the filling had a slightly chilled taste. The phyllo pastry was a bit difficult to cut into and hence would have been better to serve it in small cubes. The portion size is large enough for two people to share and is quite rich.
Sweet milk cream pie at $8.9
They also have a small bites counter which has delectable items in offering. The Chocolate with Tahini roll topped off with white sesame seeds is divine, do try it.
Baklava at $9
If you don’t mind eggs used in desserts or in flour, this place has quite a few vegetarian options. There are also quite a few vegetarian sandwiches on the menu. We’ll definitely be visiting again to try out the dinner menu. The service is quite friendly and the owners also take an effort to mingle with the crowd and get feedback since these are the initial days. The place has promise and we hope that the quality is maintained in the long run. For its authentic Greek cuisine offering, for its lovey ambiance, for its desserts and for its central location, ERGON Singapore is definitely worth a visit.
Ergon small bites counter
| In a Nutshell
|| Deelightful Rating
|Cuisine Type: Greek
|Nearest MRT: Promenade
|Address: Suntec City Mall, 3 Temasek Boulevard #01-365, Singapore 038983
|Timings: Mon-Fri: 8.30am – 10pm ; Sat-Sun: 10am – 10pm
When a sprawling dining space that resembles an indoor garden opens on Orchard Road, it is bound to attract attention. This garden themed cafe / communal dining spot, Picnic is filled with real potted plants and an AstroTurf covered garden area that will make you feel like you are having a picnic in the park. The outdoor element of a picnic is brought in with the usage of a lighting system that undergoes changes according to the time of the day. In terms of dining, the place has food trucks serving international cuisines, an illuminated bar and a dessert counter. The food ordering will remind you of Marché with the use of buzzers and for checkout, payment is made easy with the use of self-service kiosks.
Picnic dessert counter
Since we scouted for vegetarian options, I am sharing the stalls in which I managed to find them conveniently.
1. Basic Kneads
Basic Kneads is the stall serving soups and sandwiches. We noticed 3 vegetarian soup choices: Tomato, Mushroom, Potato and Leek. Soups act as a nice way to start a meal and we decided to try them instantly. We ordered the ‘Tomato Soup’ which was a rustic rendition of the dish. The bold red color coupled with the pulpy texture created a soup that was delicious and well-seasoned.
Next we ordered the ‘Mushroom Soup’ which was a visual delight. Once could stare at the contrast of the soup color with the well-drizzled cream pattern and almost feel like not spoiling the appeal. The soup was rich, indulgent and full of earthy flavours. It is a recommended dish if you are a fan of mushrooms.
Tomato Soup at $9
Mushroom Soup at $9
2. Rosti Haus
The Swiss potato dish, rosti, has an exclusive food truck serving the classic and other versions of the dish. It is an eternal favourite for most and the stall seemed to be quite popular. We ordered the ‘Plain Rosti’ which was the only vegetarian option. The shredded Idaho potato strands were nicely fried and crispy and was a good dish. But there was a clear disconnect in the quantity served to the price for this dish.
Plain Rosti at $11
3. Flour and Water
A popular stall that served classic Italian pastas and pizzas. Since we did not want to try the usual Margherita Pizza, we opted to try the pasta. We ordered the ‘Vodka Rigatoni’ which is one of the best pastas that I have eaten in Singapore.It was ridiculously flavorful – rich, spicy and delicious. For those who are apprehensive to try a bit of alcohol in their pasta can be rest assured that you can hardly taste it. It is flambéed in vodka in front of you just for the final touch. Every aspect was good about this pasta – highly recommended.
Vodka Rigatoni at $16
4. Tikka Taco
You hear food trucks and you instantly think of Tacos. Tikka Taco is one such attempt at offering unique combinations combining Indian and Mexican flavours in some and Korean flavours in others. We ordered the ‘Spinach Pesto’ taco which was different and tasted good. There were pine nuts in the filling which lent the crunch to the dish.
Spinach Pesto Taco
Their dessert counter offers everything from cupcakes to cheesecakes to pastries. They also have a crepe station and we tried the ‘Chocolate Crepe’ which made for a luscious dinner dessert.
Overall, Picnic is a fun themed addition to the multi-cuisine concept in Orchard. There are around 12-15 stalls, so there might be more vegetarian foods which we plan to check next time. Also to be noted is they have meal sets during lunch time and their dishes are priced lower by around $3-$4 even on an À la carte basis. They also offer sharing platters in which you can combine dishes from different trucks. Its a good place to chill along with a large group of friends. Definitely worth a visit to this picturesque place.
| In a Nutshell
|| Deelightful Rating
|Cuisine Type: International cuisine (Food trucks)
|Nearest MRT: Orchard
|Address: Wisma Atria #03-15, 435 Orchard Road, Singapore 238877
|Timings: Mon-Sun: 10am – 10pm
There is a consistent eatery boom in Singapore. With addition of new stations and MRT lines, this trend is bound to continue. ‘Beauty World’ is one such MRT station on the Downtown Line which has a flock of eateries outside every exit. The hawker centers and the food stalls are brimming with hungry foodies. Having said that, it’s not everyday that you get to see a fully vegetarian restaurant at a stone’s throw from the MRT! I am glad that the new outlet of D’Life Bistro and Cafe has opened in this area. D’life serves lacto-ovo vegetarian food without onion, garlic, leek, chives and shallots. It is nice to see a spacious restaurant neatly done in an old school neighborhood and striving to achieve the balance by serving good food at decent prices.
They have a comprehensive menu with a lot of variety in dishes using Chinese vegetables – a lot of greens, yam, bitter gourd, broccoli, mushrooms, okra, eggplant, etc. They also have decent options for vegans. Overall, please note that the portion sizes are extremely generous at this restaurant.
For starters, we decided to try the ‘Vegetarian Satay’ thinking that it could be paired with the rice. From the taste, I think they had made firm tofu into thin, workable strips which were skewered and cooked to a gentle brown colour. The peanut satay sauce served alongside was good but the quantity was too much for the thin satay sticks. Overall, this was a decent offering.
Soups provide comfort in rainy weather and also if you are nursing the early stages of sore throat. So I ordered the ‘Tom Yam Soup’ and I must say I was not at all disappointed. The important part of a soup is the liquid base and this was a thin watery version filled with loads of veggies and had a sightly herbal flavour. All the veggies (including the okra) were fully cooked and well-seasoned and it pairs well with rice. For those who are familiar with South Indian cuisine, this broth reminded me of Rasam with a lot of veggies. The quantity can easily serve 3-4 pax.
I also tried the ‘Assam Laksa’. This version lacks coconut milk, and instead uses clear vegetable stock as the base. It comes with noodles, tofu, vegetables and pieces of pineapple. It’s quite different from the laksa I usually order, but no less tasty for that. If you are in the mood for a normal version, they have that on the menu as well.
tom yam soup
‘Veg Fried Rice’ is the most simple dish to cook but it is important not to make it mushy. The rice grains were separate and had appropriate amount of veggies making it a good dish. If you do not eat eggs, please ensure to tell that while ordering the dish (which I did). The rice tasted nice when paired with the Tom Yam broth along with the satay to munch.
Chun Tin Road has turned out to be a dining enclave with affordable eats and it is heartening to see that it hosts a vegetarian restaurant. Overall, the food is good – cooked in Chinese wok-style flavours. The restaurant is spacious and can accommodate large groups of people. But it would be great if the service staff understand dietary requirements and are aware of explaining the dish in case queries are asked.
Veg fried rice
| In a Nutshell
|| Deelightful Rating
|Cuisine Type: Chinese
|Nearest MRT: Beauty World (Exit B)
|Address: 6 Chun Tin Road, Singapore 599593
|Timings: Mon-Sun: 10am – 10pm
Pizza fans can rejoice as Yellow Cab Pizza Co have opened their first outlet in Singapore. Situated in the busy Citylink Mall, this joint serves New York-style pizzas and is quite visible with a signature yellow and black colored board. The restaurant is styled in a quirky manner with metal furnishings and using black and white as the primary colors. The traffic signal wall seems to make a statement like ‘Your pizza will be worth your wait’. They have an interesting promo running on weekdays during lunch time. For 2 pax – any 10″ pizza + full pasta + 2 sodas at $25 which is steal deal.
Yellow Cab Pizza counter
Traffic signal decor
Their menu clearly states the standard vegetarian options as well as the dishes that can be customized to suit vegetarian dietary needs. I find this a good practice so that one does not need to separately inquire each time.
We were in the mood for pizza and promptly ordered the 10″ ‘Garden Special’ from the menu. The pizza is crisp and slightly charred in the bottom and with gooey cheese on the top. There are a generous amount of toppings of fresh ingredients and we really enjoyed the pizza. The Garden Special contains tomatoes, olives, bell peppers, mushrooms and onions as toppings. The pizza size is substantial, so if your ordering one 14″ pizza, it is more than sufficient for 2 pax else go for two 10″ pizzas to have some variety in the order. They have a pizza stand to place the pizza which makes it convenient for service.
Yellow Cab Pizza menu
In Italian food, the thrill is to get a perfect pasta. Even if it is a simple ‘Aglio Olio’. The pasta was well-done, drizzled with olive oil and topped off with basil and sundried tomatoes. To add to this, it was well-seasoned. This pasta bursts with flavor and I really enjoyed it.
Garden Special Pizza
They need to work on their service staff being more responsive and aware of the restaurant promos. If the common issues in the starting phase are smoothed and with good Italian casual dining ambiance and food in place, Yellow Cab Co. is a nice place to unwind and also works for takeaways. Wishing all the readers a very Happy Chinese New Year! Gong Xi Fa Cai!
Veg Aglio Olio
| In a Nutshell
|| Deelightful Rating
|Cuisine Type: Italian
|Nearest MRT: Esplanade
|Address: B1-01/02 CityLink Mall, 1 Raffles Link, Singapore 039393
|Timings: Mon-Thu: 11am – 10pm ; Fri-Sun: 11am – 10.30pm
The upscale restaurant Nosh has been around for years in the quiet enclave of Rochester Park. The more casual version of this restaurant is the relatively new space, Noshery which is a cafe by day and a bar by night. With this extension, Nosh has embraced the all-day dining concept. The cafe is an idyllic getaway that’s reminiscent of a cabin in a hill station. Decked out in wood, greenery seems to be the theme of this cafe – from wall motifs to the potted plants adorning the tables. I like this kind of setting for a weekend brunch as it enables an intimate dining conversation. The view from our table was this outdoor patio that gave a sense of instant calm. This space would also be perfect for small private events.
Noshery by Nosh
If you go for a brunch, make the calories count! And so we ordered the ‘French Fries’ to start the meal. The portion size was huge and that was a welcome sight when the dish of fries was placed on the table. These fries were long and thin and had a crispy texture. The thick ketchup on the side went well with the fries.
I love ordering salads if I can visualize them to be colorful. The description on the menu helps me to determine if my interest is sufficiently piqued to try it. I chose the ‘Pesto Salad’ in the same manner. The salad was simple just with four ingredients – tomatoes, Romaine lettuce, mozzarella and pesto. The simplicity turned out to be the best part as the generous use of pesto brought all the ingredients together and made it a very tasty dish. The quality of the ingredients was top-notch. Highly recommended.
French fries at $5
My husband ordered the ‘Shakshouka’ which is a Middle Eastern dish. Tomatoes are the backbone of shakshouka and the only common thing across variations of this dish. The peppers had a touch of crunch and the onions were soft and folded wonderfully into the sauce. The eggs were correctly soft cooked and the yolks added a touch of richness. The only disappointing parts of the dish were the eggplant fritters. Thankfully, they are served separately and don’t affect the dish itself.
Pesto Salad at $12
Thirst quenchers are always welcome to beat the humidity of Singapore. I found the mention of ‘Yellow Watermelon Juice’ to be intriguing. To begin with, it tastes quite different from the red watermelon. This juice was refreshing but had a bitter note at the end, maybe because of the rind. So as the juice came to room temperature, the bitterness was more pronounced. Hence I have mixed feelings about the juice – refreshing but not instantly appealing.
Shakshouka at $19
With its scenic locale and eclectic mix of delicious food, Noshery is a lovely hideout. Its ideal for midday catch-ups and a good conversation. Head there for this long weekend maybe? On that note, wishing all of you a very Happy New Year! Thank you for reading this blog filled with vegetarian rants and also patiently waiting for new posts.
Yellow watermelon juice
| In a Nutshell
|| Deelightful Rating
|Cuisine Type: Western
|Nearest MRT: Buona Vista
|Address: 9 Rochester Park, Singapore 139220
|Timings: Tue-Fri: 11.30am – 4pm ; Sat-Sun: 10.30am – 6pm
If you are a vegetarian staying in the West side of Singapore then Vegetarian Villas is definitely not a new name for you. It has been on my bucket list for a long time and I finally got a chance to visit this small restaurant situated in a row of HDB shophouses in Jurong West. Even though I had heard of its popularity, I was taken aback by the loyal set of customers who were pouring in on a scorching Sunday afternoon. The place has indoor and outdoor seating. The standard menu is displayed on the wall for you to decide on the options in advance as you wait in the queue to place your order. We reached by 1 pm, by which time most of their items were sold out. Hence it is advisable to reach there by 11.30 am if you are looking to taste all their specials.
Vegetarian Villas Menu
For fans of soup, they have a huge DIY section from which you can build you own soup along with their farm-fresh ingredients. Be prepared to find all form of healthy Chinese veggies at this counter. You will also be spoiled for choice looking at the variety of mushrooms and mock meat on this display. This is a fully vegetarian restaurant, so do not be confused with the usage of meat names in their menu.
From the appetizer section, we ordered the ‘Fried Chicken Nuggets’ which were chewy fritters that paired well with rice. The crispy coating added to the bite and the taste was quite good.
Vegetarian Villas Soup and Salad Counter
Vegetarian cuisine has evolved to create successful versions of popular dishes without compromising on the taste. The ‘Veg Nasi Lemak’ served here was quite decent. Out of the served mock meat, the one made with soy was good. The peanuts were crunchy and added texture. The chilli paste served on the side brought the dish together for me.
Fried Chicken Nuggets at $4.80
Since they had run out of Laksa, we ordered the ‘Claypot Noodles’. The noodles were cooked just tender and had a lot of flavour from the soup base. However, the base itself needed more seasoning and vegetables. A little more spice would have also helped.
Nasi Lemak at $4
They have quite a few varieties of health drinks in their freezer. I found the bottled ‘Honey Drink’ to be extremely refreshing and devoid of the overdose of sugar. Worth trying.
Claypot Noodle at $4.30
Overall I did not dislike any of their items but I will have to visit them again to try their Laksa since I have heard that it is one of their hot-selling items. For their simple food and extremely friendly prices, they are definitely worth visiting if you are in the area.
Honey drink at $2
| In a Nutshell
|| Deelightful Rating
|Cuisine Type: Vegetarian
|Nearest MRT: Lakeside
|Address: 479 Jurong West Street 41, #01-264, Singapore 640479
|Timings: Mon-Tue: 10am – 9pm ; Thu-Fri: 10pm – 9pm ; Sat-Sun: 8am – 9pm
Cooking on weekends is therapeutic for me as I get the time to experiment with new dishes. Last weekend while grocery shopping, I found taro leaves at Mustafa and decided to pick them up to make Alu Vadi. Alu Vadi is an Indian snack made with stuffed and rolled taro leaves. It is usually eaten at tea time and is common in Gujarati and Maharashtrian cuisine. I, however, wanted to make something for lunch and decided to go the gravy/curry route by combining taro leaves with ridge gourd. I remember eating ‘Turiya Patra nu Shaak’ at my Gujarati neighbour’s house in India, and could place the flavour profile between spicy and tangy. As daunting as it sounded to start this preparation from scratch, I gave it a go and the result was pleasantly surprising. Patience is key to nailing this dish successfully.
Recipe Details :
Serves: 4-5 pax
Time: 60 mins
Main Ingredients :
- 1 packet of taro leaves (12-15 leaves)
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 3 tsp oil
- 1 tsp asafoetida powder (optional)
- 2 ridge gourd, peeled and cut into small pieces
- 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
- 1 tsp finely cut green chillies
- 1 tsp garam masala powder
- Salt to taste
Ingredients for gram flour paste:
- 1.5 cups gram flour/besan
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
- 1 tsp oil
- 1 tbsp crushed jaggery
- 2 tbsp seedless tamarind soaked in 1/4 cup of water
- Salt to taste
- Coriander for garnish (optional)
Ridge gourd and taro leaves curry
- Wash the taro leaves thoroughly in running water and set them aside. Ensure that the leaves are fresh. Wipe them with a cloth until they are dry. Cut off the stalks from the base of the leaves.
Washed taro leaves
- Mix all the ingredients mentioned in the preparation of the gram flour paste in a bowl. The paste has to be slightly thick for easy application on the leaves.
- Place the leaves with the vein side facing downwards and the tip facing towards you. Gently apply the gram flour paste all over the leaf surface. Now place a leaf with the tip in the opposite direction and create an alternate stack of leaves, applying the paste on each alternate surface. Keep a minimum of 8 leaves to make a roll.
Spreading of gram flour paste on taro leaves
- After the paste is applied on 8 leaves placed alternately facing on top of each other, roll the stack into a neat and tight pattern horizontally.
Rolling of leaves
- Then cut this rolled leaf into 2 or 3 pieces depending on the length of the rolled leaf stack.
- Now heat oil in a non-stick pan and add mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add the cut ridge gourd pieces to it. Add the rolled taro leaves to the pan at the same time.
Cut ridge gourd pieces
- Do not stir too much after placing the leaves as they might tear. Shake the pan (do not use a ladle) generously to mix the ingredients.
- Next, add ginger-garlic paste and green chillies and mix well. Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for 10 mins on a medium flame.
- If the gravy is too thick, add a bit of warm water to help cook the leaves. This also helps in not letting the ingredients stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Add turmeric powder, salt, cumin and coriander powder when you add water. Keep checking the gravy consistency because gram flour has a tendency to absorb water.
Cooking of the curry
- Keep checking in between to ensure that the taro leaves are turning tender. Try breaking the leaves with a spoon. If they break easily, add the garam masala powder and stir well. After 2 mins, switch off the pan. Cook it in pan without lid at this stage.
- Finally add the coriander garnish and serve hot with rotis, naans or rice.
- Take your time while making the rolls. Work slowly but consistently – do not let the paste dry on the leaves.
- Keep the gram flour paste on the thicker side – it’s easy to take a little in a smaller vessel and thin it as required.
- Ensure that the taro leaves as well as the stuffing are fully cooked before serving.