2020 has been a testing time for the food industry in Singapore – balancing manpower and rental challenges under lockdown. To tackle this challenge, one of the options is to use tech as an enabler to automate certain manual processes and work with F&B staff to go futuristic. One such endeavour is by Ratio Café and Lounge at Centrepoint Orchard where you will get to see the awesome robot baristas at work!
As you enter the café, you can see the two sections on the left where the robotic arms are present. One section is for cocktails and the other section is for standard beverages like Kopi. It is definitely a sight to behold to see the stations and witness how much technology has progressed in the field of AI and robotics.
The kiosk at the entrance makes the ordering process quite straightforward and simple. Their menu has over 50 alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages along with some light bites for accompaniments. The place can seat around 20-25 pax comfortably and can be a spot for a quick catchup with friends or a 1-to-1 business meeting.
Once your orders are placed, you can watch the orders being prepared or be seated and watch the huge display board to know your order status. It is indeed a technology powered experience throughout.
The best part about the menu is that it is entirely customizable via a digital interface controlling everything from the number of coffee shots, to the ingredients added, and the number of ice cubes. The Tom Yum Martini is made with tom yum flavored vodka and topped off with chilli to give it a bit of heat. As the name Ratio suggests that these drinks are made with precision due to the proportions that the interface is programmed to implement.
Ratio’s Old Fashioned is a well-made drink with a smoky and woody smell. The drink is made with a mix of quality bourbon and cointreau, infused with a shot of coffee made by the robotic arm and then in a smoke chamber by the bartender. The perfect example of how the future is headed – human interaction with devices to enhance the overall customer experience.
I also tried the light bites like the croissant and the muffin which were the vegetarian options in the menu and they were strictly passable.
The café also serves Kopi from $1 a cup and offers different types of lattes. It is situated next to the Just Co, a co-working space – the whole vibe here is lively. For their tech innovation, for the precision involved in the drinks dispensing mechanism, for the robot barista emulating an actual bartender’s abilities in the mixing of drinks, and for adding something new to the food scene in Singapore, Ratio Café and Lounge is worth a visit.
In Singapore’s burgeoning food scene, it is heartening to see the newly opened Hans Im Glück German Burgergrill on the busy Orchard Road. This international German chain has chosen Singapore to be its first outlet in Asia and its 50th outpost in the world. The cushy and green ambiance – in the form of a rainforest promptly catches your attention if you are walking past the Royal Thai Embassy in Orchard. Named after the famous German fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, Hans Im Glück has a sprawling space that seats 180 covers and extends in a narrow and linear passage perpendicular to Orchard road.
Hans Im Glück
The Orders Their menu is modeled after a storybook and is well-made with great visual appeal. By practice, I opened the second last page of the menu hoping to find some vegetarian options mentioned there. To my pleasant surprise, vegetarian and vegan burgers lead the menu. Apart from that, there are a total of 11 vegetarian and vegan burgers on the menu that boasts of a variety that will make you squeal in delight. Kudos to that as the menu shows that it not only Portobello that can go into making a vegetarian burger.
Hans Im Gluck vegetarian and vegan menu
To begin with, we ordered the ‘Beer-battered Onion Rings’ to start our meal. Cooked in a light and airy batter, these golden onion rings are perfect as a simple snack. An appetizer that’s ideal for rustling up and sharing with friends. It disappeared in no time and I wished for more rings for that price point. They have four sauces on every table: Sweet Chilli, Orange Mustard, BBQ Sauce and Vegan Mayo. The Orange Mustard and BBQ are a must-try and go very well with the onion rings. Highly recommended.
Beer-battered Onion Rings at $10
Next on the side, we tried the ‘Sweet Potato Fries’ which were well-seasoned. These fries are loaded with salt, crispy on the exterior and quite addictive. A tasty nibble that goes well as a side along with the burgers.
Sweet Potato fries at $6
After staring at their menu for 10 minutes and being spoiled for choice, we ordered the ‘Wolpertinger’ Burger. This contains a spicy corn patty with aged cheddar cheese and avocado cream. They offer 3 options for the burgers – Sourdough, Multigrain in buns and the Naked version – without a bun. We tried the Sourdough bun which is specially flown in from Germany and went well with this patty. Add in the BBQ sauce to elevate this combination on the whole. They also offer an option to double up your patty at an additional price of $4 as mentioned on their menu. But when I inquired, the option to double up on a vegetarian patty comes at an additional price of $8 which is not mentioned on the menu. I wish they sort this out soon and keep the price at $4 which is the same as the other burgers.
Wolpertinger at $15
The other burger we tried was the ‘KÄSEBOR’ which has a spinach and cheese patty, parmesan and pesto. The pesto is on the salty side and you’ll need to take one or two bites to get used to the overall taste. This burger was top-notch in its overall rendition – packed with flavor and texture. It paired very well with the multi-grain bun. Their burgers give the wholesome meal experience because of the quality ingredients used in their preparation. For those who work or are roaming in the Orchard area, their daily lunch set is available from 11am to 5pm.
KÄSEBOR at $16
Apart from this, in their drinks, we tried the ‘Still Lemonade’ in the mango-ginger flavour. An apt thirst-quencher to to get your taste buds to a fruity fresh feel. I’m sure I’ll head back to this place soon to try the other vegetarian burgers and the desserts. For their lush and green environment and a convenient location, for their ample options for vegetarians and vegans and for offering quality ingredients at a good price point, Hans Im Glück German Burgergrill is a must-visit.
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
The Orders 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.
Tomato Soup at $9
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.
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
5. Desserts 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.
Food and Indian festivals go hand-in-hand. During the auspicious season of Navratri, the Indian fine-dining restaurant, Yantra has launched a ‘Temple Food Festival’. This event will continue till Oct 10th 2016 and is available only for dinner. Located in Tanglin Mall, this restaurant is a well-known name to people staying in Singapore and food festivals here always catch my attention. Helmed by Chef Hemant Oberoi, the restaurant is serving wholesome Indian plates (thalis) from four distinct regions in India during this festive season. The thalis being served are: 1) Golden Temple Thali (Punjab in North India) 2) Tirupati Balaji Temple (Andhra Pradesh in South India) 3) Jagannath Puri Temple (Orissa in East India) 4) Nathdwara Temple ( Rajasthan in West). The diversity in Indian cuisines is projected in a balanced manner via this food festival. According to Hindu tradition, temple food is termed ‘prasad’ (offerings to God) and hence this festival is fully vegetarian.
The Orders Punjabi food is my weakness and it was a no-brainer for me to order the ‘Golden Temple Thali’ from Amritsar. But before I get started on the food items, let me just say that visiting the Golden Temple is an experience in itself. I am glad that I had the privilege to visit this Sikh temple. Many articles term it as the world’s largest free kitchen with their langars (canteen) serving almost 100,000 visitors everyday. But what amazed me during my visit was the amazing and generous spirit of the volunteers who relentlessly work to make you feel at home.
Coming back to Yantra’s thali, it had the standard items of Punjabi cuisine. Punjabi cuisine is so much about the authenticity of taste that there were many hits and few misses in the thali. Noteworthy dishes were: ‘Kali Mirch Papad’ for its slight kick of spice, ‘Pakode Waali Kadi’ for the marinated fritters to have fully absorbed the flavour of kadi, ‘Aloo aur achar waali sabzi’ for the gravy style potato dish made well and ‘Langar wali dal’ which is a treat of lentils. If you are a fan of Dahi Bhalle (Vadas soaked in yogurt), then you will like it – but this is the slightly sweeter version. What disappointed me was the ‘Chole’ as it did not hit the right notes for me. This is a spot-on thaali with bhatura, garlic naan and rotis as the breads served on the side.
Golden Temple Thali
The beautiful state of Rajasthan in India needs no introduction. And one of the famous temples near Udaipur is the Shrinathji Mandir. Mainly known for their saatvic tradition in terms of food at this temple, Rajasthani influence was amply evident in their cooking style. Our next order was the ‘Nathdwara Temple Thali’ and we were quite eager to try it. Noteworthy dishes were: ‘Aloo Methi’ as the potatoes has captured the right flavour of fenugreek leaves, ‘GawarFalli’ which was long cluster beans done to perfection,’Dal Baati’ which was quite good, ‘Chokki Patta Gobi’ which was tasty cabbage cooked in Indian spices. The vegetable variety and the overall balance of sweet and savory dishes made this thali interesting for me.
Nathdwara Temple Thali
Save the best for last, especially if we are talking about Indian desserts. The ‘Kulfi’ is a part of Golden Temple Thali and is extremely delicious. Its a denser and creamier version of ice-cream and was well-flavored with cardamom.
‘Basundi’ is thick sweetened milk that is flavored with cardamom or saffron and garnished with nuts like pistachios. It was interesting to try it with Lapsi which is basically broken wheat. And also served alongside was ‘Aate Ka Halwa’ and this was a part of Nathdwara Temple Thali. The basundi was overly sweet for my liking.
Basundi and Lapsi
On the whole, if you want to experience the authentic taste of vegetarian food from different states in India, this is worth it. Priced at $49++ per plate, it was good for the experience and ambience. And what better way to work out a weekend appetite!
When you think of Bangkok, you think of Thai street food. When you transport those dishes to an upscale setting, you get Nara Thai. Situated in the plush and busy ION Orchard mall , the queue that lines up outside this restaurant during dinner time is mind-boggling. As I stood in the queue, I could see the restaurant was quite popular among expats and visiting tourists. Being awarded by TripAdvisor has worked to their advantage in their ability to garner tourist crowds. With a classy and contemporary setting, the atmosphere in this chic restaurant will instantly put you at ease. Nevertheless, what caught my attention was that they have a separate vegetarian menu (like Bali Thai) on display at the restaurant. I wish they had shared that information on their website as well.
The Orders Served straight from the wok, the ‘Fried Spring Rolls’ crackled when you bit into them. The crunchy bites led to the revelation of a tasty filling. The starter was so good that the plate was empty in no time.
Fried spring rolls at $9
Another famous Thai salad is the ‘Green Mango Salad’ that is a must try if you like the kick of spices. The salad at Nara Thai was milder with a manageable spice level, hence you might be a tad disappointed. The salt from the roasted cashews definitely helped in cutting through the tangy mango.
Green Mango salad at $10
For the mains, we went for the ‘Vegetable Hor Fun’ which came in a substantial portion. The broth was highly spicy and the chillies added more heat with every bite. This dish is not for the faint-hearted but if you enjoy spicy food, go for it!
Hor Fun at $14
After having had ‘Thai Green Curry’ at a lot of places by now, the dish just looked decent. According to a friend, the dish had a slight sweet note to it. It had a decent amount of vegetables in the dish but the portion size could have been larger. For pure vegetarians, please note that the paste does contain fish sauce. Hence this dish is not part of their vegetarian menu.
Thai green curry at $14
For the drinks, we ordered the ‘Thai Milk Iced Tea’ and Mango Smoothie which were very good. Refreshing and flavorful, they acted as fitting beverages to the meal.
Thai Iced tea and Mango Smoothie
Apart from this I also tried the ‘Veg Fried Rice’ which was decent. They also have the ‘Blue Jasmine Rice’ which was no different from white rice as such except that it has a certain flavour – and is blue in colour. Try it just for the ‘different’ element or if you are curious 🙂 For their convenient location and for their variety of offerings in Thai cuisine, Nara Thai is worth a visit.
In a Nutshell
Cuisine Type: Thai
Nearest MRT: Orchard
Address: 2 Orchard Turn, ION Orchard #B3-21, Singapore 238801
It’s nice to visit a restaurant who’s name spells laughter. When we visited Haha Thai at Ngee Ann City in Orchard, what struck me first was the (well-lit) ambiance. The industrial finish gave a hipster vibe to the trendy mall setting. The place is spacious and good for large groups. We love Thai food, so the ‘Love Thai’ bold font signage worked for us.
Haha thai decor
The moment I saw their menu page listing their mains, I wanted to know if the traditional Thai curries were available. They were ready to customize and make them vegetarian instantly. They said the food would take 20 mins to prepare it as they would cook it separately. I was happy with their understanding about food choices.
Haha Thai mains menu
The Orders For the salad, we ordered the ‘Thai Mango Salad’ to get the Thai spice kick. The mango was quite tangy but the salad was not very spicy. This was not one of the best mango salads that we have tasted. Since it’s a seasonal fruit, I would prefer not to be too critical about it.
Thai mango salad at $8.8
On the other hand, their ‘Fried Spring Rolls’ were quite good. They were crispy and a delectable mouthful of vegetables that made us wish for a larger portion. The chilli dip on the side was also well balanced.
Fried spring roll at $4.8 (3pcs)
For the mains, we ordered the ‘Veg Green Curry’ and the colour of the curry appealed to us instantly. There was a distinct Thai aroma emanating from it and it was delicious. It was creamy and filled with vegetables and tofu. Go for it and enjoy your meal.
Veg green curry at $9.8
We also ordered the ‘Veg Red Curry’. Loaded with potatoes, mushrooms, and tofu, this dish offered a more hearty take on the traditional Thai curry. Spice wise, there was no difference between the green and red versions. On the whole, the green curry had a slight edge in taste over the red.
Veg red curry at $12.8
We have heard a lot about their ‘Red Velvet Cake’ which we plan to try next time. Yes, by that I mean we will be visiting this place again! For their happy service staff, for their decent prices in an upscale setting and for the love of Thai food, pay them a visit.
In a Nutshell
Cuisine Type: Thai
Nearest MRT: Orchard
Address: 391 Orchard Road, Ngee Ann City #05-29, Singapore 238873
Thailand is well known for great tourist spots and happy locals. As part of good diplomatic relations with Singapore, the food and fanfare of Thailand has come to life at Orchard Road in the form of a food festival. Thai Festival 2015 runs from 3rd Sept – 6th Sept. There are food and accessory stalls along with ongoing cultural displays of Thai traditions. It is an interesting peek into the pleasant ‘Sawadee Kha’ nation.
The Orders To begin with, they have put up some free sampling stalls modeled after the famous floating markets of Thailand. It is fascinating to watch the desserts being made in the traditional vessels. We first tried the ‘Kanom Krok’ which are the Thai Coconut Rice Cakes steamed in a Appe kind of pan. The taste is a nice blend of savoury and sweet and definitely worth trying.
The most unique thing that I tried was the ‘Roti sai mai’ which consists of a green crepe made from pandan leaves filled with cotton candy made with spun sugar. I must say this was delicious. This was also one of the free sampling stalls.
Roti sai mai
If you are a vegetarian and looking to have a proper meal like lunch or dinner at these food stalls, then you will be disappointed. The only thing I managed to find was the ‘Mango Papaya Salad’ on the first day made in the authentic Thai way. The chilli padi and peanuts get mixed with the papaya and are whisked in a wooden bowl shaped like a big mortar and pestle. This is one helluva spicy salad!
Mango and papaya salad at $5
It also depends on what time of the day you are going since most of the food items had gotten over quite soon on the first day. There are a lot of food product stalls selling fried onions, fruits, dried mango, candied orange peels, and more. They offer samples as well. I bought the Green Curry, Red Curry and Tom Yum Paste bottles as they looked quite good. Sharing some of my food shopping here – Brown Rice Crackers, Candied Banana Chips and Taro Chips. The Mini Coconut Crepes also looked interesting though I am yet to taste them.
Thai food items (3 for $10)
There were some handbags displayed by ‘Thai Association Singapore’ for ladies to get their shopping fix. There are also other stalls selling different kinds of accessories and clothes. The spa zone has massage options and photo booths.
Thai association Singapore
On the whole, if you would like to be transported to the street markets in Thailand with variety of food items like organic brown rice, honey with ginger, and lemongrass drinks – do visit the Thai Festival 2015.
Wild Honey is well known in Singapore for its all-day breakfast offerings. The same owners have opened a New York style Deli called Sacha & Sons . Situated in the plush Mandarin Gallery , this place offers classic delicatessen selections. There’s a great ambiance with people chatting away and grabbing a quick bite that does remind you a bit of New York cafes.
Sacha and sons signboard
The Orders As a foodie, I am always excited to go through menus and check for the different vegetarian options I can try out. To start our meal, I decided to go for the ‘Bagel and Cream Cheese’ which is a classic combination. These were sesame flavored bagels with a chewy texture and the herb infused cream cheese had a nice amount of garlic in it. I quite enjoyed this dish and forgot about the calorie count in the process.
Bagel with herb cream cheese at $8
The most interesting dish that I found on the menu was ‘Latkes’ which I had never tried before this outing. ‘Latkes’ are basically potato pancakes deep fried in oil. It is a traditional Jewish dish made during Hanukkah. They have different toppings on this and I opted for ‘Sour Cream’ and ‘Applesauce’. It is quite filling and I would highly recommend this delicious dish.
Potato latke at $10
On the side, we also ordered the ‘Cold Potato Salad’ which was passable. Its more a matter of personal preference as I prefer warm potatoes to the colder version.
Cold potato salad
As a thirst quencher, we went for the ‘Ruby Grapefruit Juice’ which was refreshing and nice. It was a dark red colour that clearly glistened in the warm lights and made it one visually appealing glass.
Ruby grapefruit juice at $9
On the whole, they are slightly pricey for the serving portions. Barring that – for the introduction of a new concept, for unique food offerings and good food, Sacha and Sons deserve a visit.
Last year, I had the pleasure of visiting Japan. I have to say it is one of the most beautiful countries in terms of its abundant nature , food options and the warmth of the people. That was also my first exposure to Japanese cuisine, to be more precise, vegetarian Japanese cuisine. Their broth preparations are quite delicious, especially the soy broth. I was waiting for something of that kind to hit Singapore and I happened to chance upon the exclusive Vegetarian set menu additions of Shimbashi Soba situated at Paragon mall in Orchard. I jumped upon seeing this unique offering and I knew I had to pay them a visit. They have some special vegetarian offers for January and February 2015. Generally, Japanese culture pays a lot of emphasis on punctuality, efficiency and warm hospitality. Shimbashi Soba had all those aspects – we were seated on time, promptly served and interacted with a smiling staff who made apt suggestions on the menu. While we were waiting to be seated, I spotted a neat note explaining the difference in the vegetarian menu. This place might also be suitable for some vegans.
Shimbashi Soba food note
The Orders It is always a pleasure to taste Japanese teas. I am also a huge fan of the serving vessels they use to serve different preparations. The elegant teapot was a welcome sight. The ‘Soba Cha’ was light, mild and very refreshing.
Teas at Shimbashi Soba
It is a no-brainer that I had to taste soba in a restaurant which had soba in its name! Their noodles are eggless. This place is popular for its buckwheat soba which is handmade in the restaurant and freshly served. The soba strips are so finely cut that it is mindblowing! Buckwheat is healthy as it is high in antioxidants. Our first order was the ‘Vegetarian Tempura Sairo / Kake Soba’ which was assorted tempura served with soba. The whole set was so pretty. You have an option to select hot soba or cold soba in the set. I was glad my friend suggested that I try cold soba. It is served on a bamboo mat with ice beneath it. I must say it was one of the nicest sobas I have ever tried. To eat it – add the garnish (served alongside) into the tea, take the noodles, dip it in the tea set and then in the plum flavoured salt. You will get all the flavours blending in your mouth with every bite. And if you want the kick, go for the wasabi! Highly recommended.
Vegetarian Tempura Sairo / Kake Soba at $19.80
Next, we wanted to try the soy broth preparation since we were also nostalgic about our Japan trip. We went for the ‘Vegetarian Tonyu Nabeyaki Soba’. I loved this dish as well. The broth is rich with hints of soy sauce coming through. The vegetables and mushrooms were well seasoned. The noodles do lose some of the texture they possess when eaten cold. This is more than made up for by the texture of the dish as a whole.
Vegetarian Tonyu Nabeyaki Soba at $19.80
For an unique dining experience, for their amazing soba noodles, for their separate menu with a variety of vegetarian offerings and for the experience of authentic Japanese cuisine, Shimbashi Soba is totally worth a visit. Domo arigato!