Archive | January, 2012

Veganburg, Singapore

29 Jan

Singapore, Jan 2012

i am back in Singapore – my hometown of 16 years – for a 2-week visit. its a wonderful feeling to be back, especially since Singapore is foodie haven. there are tons – and i mean tons – of choices, from hawker-centre fare to fine dining. if you love food, Singapore will spoil you 🙂 and vegetarians never need fear lack of choice – even within the pool of vegetarian restaurants, you have some that offer mock-meat based dishes, some that are totally plant-based and vegan, some that use onion and garlic, and others that don’t. and did i mention that each of them offers a unique selection of choices, from Southeast Asian to Western food? tempting eh? 🙂

Veganburg is one such vegan restaurant that serves – as its name so obviously suggests – vegan burgers. the place was started to offer earth-friendly, healthy food alternatives to the regular (meat) burgers. everything served here – down to the sauces – are dairy and egg-free. there are some burgers that are onion-free as well for strict vegetarians. i’d heard of this place maybe about a year or so back when someone posted about it on Facebook, but never got a chance to visit it. the other day, i was free for lunch and wondering where to go – when i chanced upon Veganburg again through an online search. my choice was made.

a 7-minute walk away from Eunos MRT, Veganburg is a cheery little restaurant that is chic yet comfortable. with white  accents dominating the decor – from the tiles to the rustic-looking furniture, and plants adding a spot of colour, the ambiance is perfect for a relaxed lunch or afternoon snack. their staff are friendly and attentive, and make it a point to tell you of the time it will take for your burger to be prepared. i ordered the ‘cracked pepper mayo’ burger, and made it a combo-meal with seaweed shaker fries and orange-passionfruit juice. while i waited, i flipped through one of the magazines (kept in compartments under the tables) and watched the world go by. after a while, i got my burger and fries served in a cute, square tin container with a handle – something i have never seen before, but which adds quirky charm to the place.

on to the food. the burger was sandwiched in a ciabatta bun baked with sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and walnuts pieces. the patty had a chewy, meaty texture, but didn’t have the overpowering soy taste that some mock-meats tend to have. the mayo was light, fresh and slightly tangy, with the pepper adding flavour. topped with fresh lettuce, the burger was extremely tasty, but light on the stomach. the orange-passionfruit juice was full of flavour and made me perk up from first sip! i did wish that they had added more seaweed flavour/flakes to the fries, which didn’t seem very different from regular fries. i also tried the smoky vegan franks, asking for mayo on the side to go with it. the franks had the obvious texture and taste of soy-based mock-meat, but the added smoky flavour makes it tasty.

i relished my meal until the last bite, and when i got up to leave, i was feeling replete 🙂 i do hope to go back and try some of their other burgers – especially the ‘hawaiian pineapple’ or ‘char-grilled’ satay! 🙂 and every time i am back in Singapore, Veganburg will be one of must-visit places for lunch. and if you tried their burgers, you would probably agree 🙂

*Photos courtesy of Veganburg (http://www.veganburg.com and http://www.facebook.com/veganburg)

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Benjarong, Chennai, India

15 Jan

Chennai, Jan 2012

it seems to me that the universe is being particularly kind when it comes to satisfying my foodie cravings. if not, how else do you explain the fact that just a few days after raving about how much i love thai food to one friend, another friend suggests that we visit this awesome place called Benjarong for ‘thai dinner night’? i love thee, my personal foodie guardian angel! 🙂

if you have not visited Benjarong before, you might do the same thing i did and miss seeing it. located along TTK road next to French Loaf Bakery, the restaurant is tucked away from the main road. when you reach, there is valet parking, so you don’t have to fuss about having to park the vehicle in the limited space.

unlike some fine-dining restaurants i have been to, Benjarong doesn’t awe you with size. ‘quaint’ is the word that comes to my mind when i see the not-so-tall wooden doors adorned with a welcoming thai statue, that open up into a beautifully decorated space. soft yellow lights accentuate the rich brown of the furniture, the wall paintings and a small reclining buddha that catches my fancy. the tables do seem to be placed a little close to each other, but once we were seated, there was no sense of overcrowding.

right after we were given the menus, a waiter brought us a plate set with some basil leaves and little cups filled with assorted ingredients – shredded sweet coconut, peanuts, cut red chillies, small cubes of yellow lime, bits of onion, and a nut-like substance i don’t know the name of. in the center was a bowl with thick, ebony-coloured sweet sauce. i followed my friend’s example, and made a one-bite salad, using a basil leaf piled with a bit of each ingredient (minus the red chilly) and a drop of sauce, and popped the whole thing in my mouth – and boy, was it amazing! 🙂 sweet, tangy, pungent – all together in miniscule proportions underlined by the fresh, earthy taste of basil! it was a wonderful start, and whetted our appetites for the meal to follow.

by this time, i had high hopes for the food. we began with tofu satay – sticks of rectangular tofu coated with spices and then grilled, and served with thick, spicy peanut sauce. it was sheer pleasure in every bite, evidenced the fact that we practically wiped the sauce bowl clean with bits of tofu! 🙂 then came the main courses – green curry (served with rice) and phad thai phak (flat noodles tossed with veges and spices). the green curry was wonderfully replete with coconut milk and signature thai spices that left a tingle on my taste buds. the phad thai phak was moderately spicy with the tossed veges adding a nice crunch to the dish. the portions are generous, so sharing is welcome! we were also served lemongrass tea, which is a mild drink with a very subtle hint of the spice – this was the first time i was trying it, and found it to be a nice addition to the meal.

Benjarong is perfect for a special dinner with friends or family. the food is excellent, the ambience is beautiful, and the waiters are extremely courteous and attentive without being intrusive. my only grouse about the evening was that we were too full to try out the desserts – but hey, there will always be a next time! 🙂

*Photos courtesy of Benjarong (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Benjarong)

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