Ricciotti – Casual Italian dining with ample vegetarian options in Singapore

There are a lot of Italian eateries in Singapore, and it can get difficult to know exactly where to go for authentic food. Ricciotti is one such nice and cozy Italian restaurant located along the Riverwalk at Boat Quay, Singapore. The restaurant is spacious, has beautiful furnishing, and immediately gives you the vibe of dining in an Italian home.

The red open counter and the wall decor add a nice touch to the ambiance and one feels welcomed into a relaxing meal.

Riccciotti decor

The menu is quite extensive and has a lot of vegetarian options. The pastas were categorized into two sections: homemade and artisanal. We ordered the Spaghetti Pomodoro Fresco which was packed with great flavor from the tomato sauce and basil. The burrata on the top was fresh and of high quality. The pasta was cooked to the level I like and the whole dish came together perfectly. We ordered some Italian breads on the side which pair well with most of the pastas you order here.

Spaghetti Pomodoro Fresco

A well-made pasta makes me feel happy instantly, just like this pasta did. The Fettuccine Verdi al Ragu was thoroughly enjoyable as a dish. The spinach fettuccine and the mixed vegetables in the sauce made a nice combination and the portion was substantial for a meal.

Fettuccine Verdi al Ragu

The Gnocchi is available with a variety of base options and we opted for the Pesto Genovese. The potato pillows of gnoccchi had absorbed all the flavours from the sauce, making every bite delightful. Highly recommended.

Gnocchi

It’s tough to resist a pizza in a restaurant serving authentic Italian food. The Genovese pizza had basil pesto, mozzarella and burrata on the top. This was a thin crust pizza with a crispy dough that is best eaten as soon a it is served. As the meal progressed and as the pizza was no longer hot, the crispiness of the base decreased a bit.

Genovese pizza

In Italian desserts, tiramisu is the perfect treat for any sweet tooth. The Ricciotti version was rich and creamy with the right moistness and sweetness level. A good way to end your meal.

Tiramisu

For the chocoholics, the Soffiato is a must-try. The molten dark chocolate cake (served with gelato) was quite a visual presentation on the plate. The dessert was delicious with the berries on the side.

Soffiato

Ricciotti is a restaurant I chanced upon while I was exploring Singapore. The restaurant has been around for quite some time. For their good Italian fare, for the loads of vegetarian food options on their menu and for their overall vibe, Ricciotti is definitely worth trying.

In a NutshellDeelightful Rating
Nearest MRT: Raffles Place / Clarke Quay★★★★
Cuisine Type: Italian
Address: 20 Upper Circular Rd, B1-49/50, The Riverwalk, S058416
Timings: Mon-Sun : 11.30 AM – 11 PM
Website: http://www.ricciotti.co/home

Cuba Libre at Frasers Tower – 4-course Vegetarian Valentine menu for dinner

The long weekend of Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day overlap this year and there is nothing like an elaborate dinner on one of these days to spend time with your loved one. Having stayed in Singapore for a while, I have found it difficult to get a full-course vegetarian meal on occasions at wallet-friendly prices. Fret not as Cuba Libre at Frasers Tower in Singapore have launched a special 4-course vegetarian Valentine menu for a limited time. This occasion-specific dinner will be available from Feb 12th – 14th 2021 at this specific outlet. Do not miss the chance to spend quality time with your loved one with some great food!

Their menu is priced at $45++ per pax without alcohol and allows wine pairing at a slightly higher price. This Latin American vegetarian menu has been curated by Executive Head Chef, Alex Morano for couples to enjoy in the cozy ambiance at Cuba Libre.

Vegetarian Valentine menu for dinner at Cuba Libre at Frasers Tower in Singapore

The first course was the Chef’s Kale Salad which had kale, avocado, green apple, lemon zest and parmesan cheese shavings. The freshness of the kale coupled with the crunch of apples and the tang of lemons made this a flavorful dish and it disappeared from the plate in no time. There is an option to add egg to this salad, if you want. I opted for the eggless version.

Chef's Kale Salad at Cuba Libre in Singapore
Chef’s Kale Salad

For the appetizer course, we had the Impossible Baked Meatloaf. The verdict is clear on the Impossible series items that people who consume meat would be able to tell on how close the texture is compared to the real version. For me, a vegetarian by birth and choice, the Impossible series has a different meaning when it comes to taste. This dish was chewy and too dry for my liking . The pickled peppers, beet sauce and pesto by the side helped it a lot and I wish there were more of the accompaniments.

Impossible baked meatloaf at Cuba Libre
Impossible Baked Meatloaf

For the main course, it was heartening to see the traditional Wellington made in the vegetarian version. The presentation was top-notch with farm-fresh ingredients. The filling consisted of lentils and mushrooms tied together inside a crisp puff pastry. The pumpkin gravy as the base with the sprinkle of chilli flakes added the perfect balance and brought the whole dish well together. A substantial main course dish that was quite filling.

Mushroom Lentil and Nut Wellington at Cuba Libre
Mushroom Lentil and Nut Wellington

For desserts, there were panellets – chocolate balls with freshly grated coconut filling. The exterior crust with almond breaks gently and forms one wholesome bite. This dessert has some lovely textural contrast between the shell and the filling.

Panellets de Coconut and Chocolate at Cuba Libre
Panellets de Coconut and Chocolate

The creamy strawberry cheesecake was a delicious dessert. It had almost no crust and was so smooth with the taste of fresh strawberries in the sauce that you would be left wanting more.

Strawberry Cheesecake

For the visual appeal of all dishes in terms of presentation, for their unique take on curating a 4-course vegetarian menu with no compromise on taste and for their nice ambiance, Cuba Libre’s Valentine’s Day menu is highly recommended. Rev up the romance with the right meal!

In a NutshellDeelightful Rating
Cuisine Type: Latin American★★★★
Nearest MRT: Telok Ayer
182 Cecil Street, #01-06/07 Frasers Tower, S069547
Timings: Mon-Sun: 10.30 AM – 10 PM
Website: https://www.cubalibre.asia/

Please note that this was a tasting hosted by Cuba Libre but the views and opinions expressed in this post are solely mine.

Miznon – first Israeli restaurant in Singapore

As global eateries embark on their journey to make their presence felt in Asia, it’s heartening to see Miznon open their first outlet in Singapore. The chain was founded in 2010 in Tel Aviv, Israel by renowned chef, Eyal Shani who is known for his unique take on Israeli street food.

I was very interested to see the vegetarian food options in Israeli cuisine and decided to pay them a visit. Inspite of the ongoing rainy weather in Singapore, I was pleasantly surprised to see people queuing to try the magic in every bite which the chain endorses in the tees of their staff, #MiznonMagic.

The restaurant has an open kitchen which looked vibrant with the colors of the fresh produce and has an instantly friendly vibe. There is cheer in the atmosphere and the chefs worked like clockwork to dish out the consistent stream of orders.

Miznon Singapore
Miznon Singapore

The Orders

Potatoes are used in abundance in Israeli cooking – these could be the normal potatoes or the sweet potatoes. Both the versions are done well and different to taste in terms of seasoning used at Miznon.

We tried the ‘Run Over Potato’ which was a slimmed down version of the baked potato. The potato was flattened out with a pounder and topped with butter, sour cream, garlic and herbs. It was sprinkled on the top with a generous amount of salt in the crystalline form , so be prepared for that to hit you while eating. On the whole, the taste was good and different.

Run over Potato at Miznon Singapore
Run Over Potato at S$11

The mains consist of a few vegetarian options in the form of Pita Pockets. First, we tried the ‘Falafel Burger’ which is definitely one the of the best ones that I have eaten in Singapore. The Falafel patty is more flatter, bigger and the portion completely fits into the depth of the pita bread – so you get the consistent flavours as you finish the pita. The tomato steak, sour cream, pickles and onion make it a wholesome stuffed pita experience. Definitely recommended.

Falafel Burger at Miznon Singapore
Falafel Burger at S$13

As opposed to the Falafel Burger which had the vibrant colours of the produce, the “White” , as the name suggests, is an all white dish in terms of stuffing in the pita pocket. You will find cauliflower in ample use at Miznon, even in the visual display. This dish contained the filling of cauliflower with tahini, chili, tomato salsa and spring onion. A special mention to the pita breads which were fluffy and easy to chew.

White Cauliflower at Miznon Singapore
White at S$16

Unfortunately their other recommended dish, ‘Bag of Green Beans’ was sold out – saving some items for my next visit to try along with Israeli wines. if you eat eggs, then ‘Eggs No Steak’ should also be a good vegetarian option to try at Miznon. Last but not the least, I purchased the Miznon special Tahini and will try to use it in cooking at home and share some recipes.

Tahini at Miznon Singapore
Tahini at S$12

It’s very early days, so hope they really are able to cater to crowds and maintain quality which is one of the key factors to sustain in the food scene in Singapore. For a vegetable forward menu, for a cuisine that lends itself well to vegetarian and vegan food items, for the quality of the ingredients and for the fun ambiance, Miznon is definitely worth visiting.

In a NutshellDeelightful Rating
Cuisine Type: Israeli★★★★
Nearest MRT: Telok Ayer
Address: 6 Stanley Street, #01-01, S068725
Timings: Mon-Sat: 11AM – 11PM
Website: https://miznonsingapore.com/

Mango Phirni

When mangoes are in season, you’ve got to make desserts. And there is nothing better than Alphonoso mangoes from India to add their natural sweetness into the desserts. Phirni is a chilled dessert made with rice, milk and sugar. When you add mangoes to this classic dish, the beautiful yellow colour will leave you wanting more!
Recipe Details :
Serves: 8 pax
Time: 60 mins
Difficulty: Easy
Ingredients : 

  • 1 litre milk, preferably full fat
  • 1/4 cup rice, preferably Basmati rice
  • 2 tsp ghee
  • 3-4 safrron strands
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup mango pulp, preferably from fresh mangoes or canned mango puree
  • 8-10 pistachios
  • 8-10 almonds
  • 8-10 cashews
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder

Mango phirni
Method:

  • Wash the rice and soak it for an hour.
  • Drain the water and blend the rice in a mixer/blender to form a coarse paste. If water is really required at this stage, just add a few drops.
  • Add ghee in a pan and let it melt on low flame. Once melted, add the milk.
  • Wait for the milk to come to a boil and then add in the rice paste and the saffron strands. Ensure that you stir the rice paste immediately so that no lumps are formed.
  • Lower the heat and cook till the milk reduces to half the original quantity. The phirni consistency is important, so keep stirring at continuous intervals. The phirni will get thicker in around 20-25 minutes on a low flame.The rice should also be cooked at this stage.
  • Now add sugar and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Switch off the phirni and let it cool completely.
  • Once the phirni has cooled, add the mango pulp and mix well.
  • mango phirni

  • Add garnish in the form of slivered pistachios, almonds, cashews and cardamom powder.
  • mango-phirni-two

  • Serve the mango phirni chilled in bowls.

Tips:

  • In case you encounter lumps in the rice paste, remove it off the flame and break the lumps using a blender.

Snake Gourd Mallung (Sri Lankan Snake Gourd Stir Fry)

Over the weekend, I had an inclination to try a non-Indian cuisine and I zeroed in on a Sri Lankan style. Mallung is a form of salad mixing up various ingredients, traditionally made with leafy vegetables. The green veggies are infused with the aromas of coconut and spices through a simple stir fry.
Snake gourd is a vegetable that cooks quickly once you clean it and hence this healthy recipe requires minimal time. It is made with negligible amount of oil and can be eaten in ample quantity. Make sure to choose a fresh gourd which is firm in texture. This vegan snake gourd mallung is best served with rotis or with rice and dal.
Recipe Details :
Serves: 3 pax
Time: 30 mins
Difficulty: Easy
Ingredients :

  • 1 long snake gourd (500 gms)
  • 1 medium sized onion, finely sliced
  • 1 garlic pod, finely minced
  • 2 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 dried red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 cup of freshly scraped coconut or desiccated coconut
  • 2 tbsp of oil
  • Salt to taste

Snake Gourd Mallung
Method:

  • Wash the snake gourd, peel off the skin and also remove the white layer filled with seeds from the inside of the gourd. For peeling off, because the skin is soft, it is preferred if you use the knife to scrape the skin off.
  • Cut the long snake gourds into small sections. Cut each of the smaller parts in half and then into thin crescents. Place these crescents in a bowl and sprinkle salt on them and mix well.
  • Heat a pan on medium flame and add the oil.
  • Add onions and garlic and saute them until the onions turn translucent.
  • Now add the chopped green chillies, red chilli and turmeric powder and mix them well.
  • Gently squeeze and add the snake gourd now and cook for around 10 minutes on medium flame. Add salt at this stage based on the amount of salt you had sprinkled earlier in the bowl.
  • Once the snake gourd crescents turn soft, add the scraped coconut and cook further for around 7 minutes.
  • Vegan snake gourd mallung

  • Switch off the flame and serve the delicious snake gourd mallung when hot.

Dum Arbi / Colocasia Curry

Arbi goes commonly by the name of taro root or colocasia. It is a starchy root vegetable and is high in fibre content. In South India, arbi is prepared in the traditional style with a bit of tempering and turmeric and letting it crisp in oil till it achieves a beautiful golden colour.
This time I decided to try the North Indian gravy based dish using colocasia called Dum Arbi. This is a delectable gravy dish cooked in a spicy yogurt base and goes well with rotis or dal and rice.

Recipe Details :
Serves: 4 pax
Time: 45 mins
Difficulty: Medium
Ingredients : 

  • 500 gms of Arbi
  • 2 medium sized onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes puréed
  • 1 garlic pod, finely minced (optional)
  • 2 tsp ginger, finely grated
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp kasuri methi
  • A pinch of asafoetida (optional)
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1 tbsp of oil
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • Oil for deep frying
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander leaves, finely chopped for garnish

Dum Arbi
Method:

  • Wash the arbi nicely so that the mud is washed away. Add the arbi in a pressure cooker with lightly sated water (enough to cover) for 3 whistles on medium flame. Switch off the flame once the whistles are done.
  • Wait for the cooker to come to room temperature. Upon cooling, open the cooker and peel off the skin of the arbi.
  • Cut the arbi into equal cubes, it will be a bit slippery, so cut with a blunt knife if required.
  • Cool the vegetables for a few minutes.
  • Heat oil in a pan for deep frying. Add the arbi cubes in this pan and fry them till golden brown outside and remove them on an absorbent paper and keep them aside.
  • Now in another pan, take 1 tbsp of oil and add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and asafoetida.
  • Add chopped garlic, green chilli and onion and sauté it till the onions become translucent.
  • Add ginger and tomato purée and again sauté it for 3 minutes. Add red chilli powder, turmeric powder and garam masala and saute it till oil separates.
  • Add the yogurt now, mix it well and stir it continuously in the pan till it comes to boiling point. To balance consistency, add water (around 1/4 cup) to boil the gravy again – keep stirring it at this stage.
  • Now add the fried arbi cubes, salt and mix it well so that the cubes get coated uniformly with this gravy. Cover it with a lid and cook it for 5 minutes on low flame.
  • Dum Arbi
  • Switch off the flame, garnish with coriander leaves and serve it hot.

Tips:

  • Fry the arbi in batches – do not overcrowd the pan.
  • You can shallow fry too , as long as you cut the arbi into small cubes.

Carrot Paniyaram

Many thoughts fill my mind as I write my first post of the new decade. The year 2020 has brought in a lot of uncertainties with it but one thing that I have held on to is hope. The time at hand has allowed me to try quite a few recipes on the weekends and I decided to share them with each of you.
Paniyaram is a South Indian dish prepared by cooking the fermented idli or dosa batter in a mould. They are like dumplings and served during breakfast or as a tea-time snack. Usage of minimal oil with ability to stuff various vegetables as fillings makes this dish an instant hit with the kids. For this recipe, I have used carrots and onions to make this wholesome recipe. Typically, paniyarams are best paired with onion or mint chutney.
Paniyarams are made in a paniyaram maker which is a vessel made of steel or soapstone with mould pits of equal depth.

Recipe Details :
Serves: 3 pax
Time: 40 mins
Difficulty: Easy
Ingredients :

  • 2 cups of idli/dosa batter
  • 1/4 cup of finely grated carrot [use the smallest marker size of the grater]
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped or grated onion
  • 2-3 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp urad dal
  • 1 tbsp coriander, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp cooking oil
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • Salt to taste

 
Carrot Paniyaram

Method: 

  • Heat the oil in a cooking pan. Temper the urad dal and mustard seeds till they splutter and become slightly golden.
  • Now add in the finely chopped green chillies and onions and cook them till they become translucent.
  • The add in the grated carrots, ginger and salt and cook the veggies for five minutes.
  • Cool the vegetables for a few minutes and add them to the batter. Mix well to combine
  • Take the paniyaram maker and heat it on a low flame. Pour 1 tsp of oil into each pit of the pan. Once the pan is hot, pour the batter into each of the pits. While pouring, fill it to 3/4th of the capacity of each pit since the batter will rise once heated.
  • Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for 4 minutes. Now turn over each paniyaram with the help of a chopstick and cook it till a toothpick inserted at the centre of the paniyaram comes out clean.
  • Serve and eat them while they are piping hot.

 
paniyaramtwo

Tips:

  • Do not overfill the mould with the batter and leave some space in the mould pit for the batter to rise.

Acapulco Mexican Bistro and Bar – Telok Ayer [Permanently Closed]

After office hours, the busy Robinson Road turns into a convenient spot to relax and unwind. Filled with watering holes and restaurants offering a variety of cuisines, people have umpteen options to head to for a nice meal and drinks. In this stretch is Acapulco Bistro and Bar, a restaurant which specializes in authentic Mexican cuisine. The restaurant is small but has a festive atmosphere and an awesome live band that plays on Fridays. If you like good food along with classic English songs, head here right away!

The Orders
The menu is filled with handcrafted, traditional dishes from Mexico and the whole vibe of the restaurant lends itself to make it feel like a home-cooked meal. All the main Mexican dishes like tacos, burritos and quesadillas have vegetarian options, hence there is no hassle while placing the order. First, we ordered the ‘Burrito Bowl’ and directly sprung into the main course. Burritos are all well and good but sometimes you just don’t want to deal with the messy and tearing sides of the tortilla wraps. This burrito bowl was served with Mexican rice accompanied by capsicum, tomato, onions, pico de gallo and melted cheddar cheese. This flavoursome bowl with well spiced veggies has you covered for a delicious meal.

Burrito bowl

Burrito bowl at $12.50


If you want to simplify your ordering process and not think too much, then most of the times you can rely on ‘Veg Fajitas’ for a quick and easy meal. They offer the Norteno Fajitas which is nothing but Tex-Mex, a blend of styles born from the Norteno border of Mexico and Southwestern border of the US. In this version, the veggies were seasoned to perfection and served along with a flour tortilla. The guacamole and sour cream on the side brought the whole dish together making it tasty mouthfuls of goodness for me.
Veg Fajitas

Veg Fajitas at $12.50


Since I was not in the mood for cocktails, I went for the ‘Apple Juice’. Refreshing, crisp, and light – a glass to enjoy while soaking in the music.
Apple Juice

Apple Juice at $6


I have tasted many veg quesadillas in Singapore at various restaurants. Most of them have stringy cheese oozing out of them along with some veggies as fillings. All you can taste in these is the cheese. In Acapulco’s ‘Veg Quesadillas’, you can actually taste the (generously filled) veggies which is such a welcome change for a vegetarian like me. The melted cheese, chopped jalapeno, sour cream, pico de gallo and guacamole made for perfect dipping for these absolutely well-made quesadillas. Highly recommended.
Veg Quesadillas

Veg Quesadillas at $12


A special mention to the live band – https://www.facebook.com/Clique-The-Groovy-People-369261880123695/ who were absolutely fabulous. For their authentic Mexican taste, use of loads of veggies in their dishes and friendly vibe, Acapulco Mexican Bistro and Bar is a must-visit.

In a Nutshell Deelightful Rating
Cuisine Type: Mexican ★★★1/2
Nearest MRT: Telok Ayer / Tanjong Pagar
Address: 138 Robinson Road, #01-03 Oxley Tower, Singapore 068906
Timings: Mon-Sun: 11am – 11pm
Website: https://www.acapulco.com.sg/

Avocado – Best Vegetarian restaurant in Athens, Greece

For a long time in Greece, decadence ruled the food options available in the country. But now the capital has quite a few healthy food options available across all neighborhoods. Leading this food trend is Avocado, a fully vegetarian restaurant that believes in serving healthy and delicious food. Its strategic location in the central Syntagma Square makes it extremely convenient for vegetarian tourists looking for a comfort meal after seeing the Acropolis. Avocado also serves a full vegan menu for those opting for cruelty free and plant-based food in Athens. The place is extremely popular, so expect a wait time of 10-15 mins. The good thing is that the queue moves fast, hence you can hope to get a table soon. This vegetarian restaurant is also a quick walk if you are staying in a hotel in the Plaka neighborhood of Athens.

Avocado - Athens Greece

Avocado – Athens Greece


Avocado - Athens Greece

Avocado – Athens Greece

The Orders
When a vegetarian burger is well-made, my taste buds jump with delight. After having heard so much about the famous ‘Signature Avocado Burger’, I decided to give it a try. This burger is made of sweet potatoes, ginger, chickpeas, coriander, basil and some more ingredients. This patty is then topped with cheese, onions, lettuce, tomato and a generous portion of avocado. Vegans can opt for the same burger without cheese. The moment you taste this dish, you know that this is not your average veggie burger – it is something much more with the flavours of more than ten ingredients coming together to make that first bite memorable! Do not miss the sweet potato flakes and the spicy tomato sauce on the side. They are there for the prime reason of enhancing the flavours of the ingredients in the burger.

Avocado Veg Burger

Avocado’s Burger at €10


Avocado is known for its smoothies and fresh juices. On that day, we were in a mood to try something different. We ordered the ‘Pimento Gingembre’ which is a refreshing, non-alcoholic ginger drink with a distinctive, chilli kick. The drink has a fiery smell of ginger with chili notes. Absolutely flavorsome and trust it to pack quite a kick! The mild fizz along with the lingering aftertaste of ginger makes it a refreshing drink.
Pimento

Pimento at €3


If you are looking for some Asian flavours, then try the ‘Om Shanti’ curry from Avocado’s menu. The mild yellow curry is served brimming with vegetables of various colours along with sautéed Basmati rice. It is made with coconut milk along with haricot beans, broccoli, bell peppers and carrots. The curry broth is delicious and the advantage is the spice level can be customized while placing the order. Highly recommended.
Om Shanti

Om Shanti at €9


To be honest, they have such an extensive menu and all the description of all items seemed so interesting that a one-time visit would not do justice to explore this place fully. If you have time, try some of their vegan desserts. Above all, their service is top-notch with friendly staff who have the patience to understand your dietary preferences and suggest the best options. If you visit Athens, do not miss Avocado which is indeed one of the best vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Athens.

In a Nutshell Deelightful Rating
Cuisine Type: Vegetarian and Vegan ★★★★1/2
Nearest MRT: Syntagma
Address: Nikis, 30 Syntagma, 105 57 Athens, Greece
Timings: Mon-Fri: 12pm – 11pm ; Sat: 11am – 11pm ; Sun: 12pm – 7pm
Website: http://www.avocadoathens.com/