I’ve been a vegetarian all my life and I have never sought out an all-vegetarian restaurant to dine at. Not once! But then, I grew up in India where being vegetarian is as much of a norm as being a meat-eater. This means that every restaurant has 50% vegetarian dishes on their menu, give or take.
While this might be the dream for the fast-growing vegetarian community in Singapore, in reality, vegetarianism isn’t really mainstream here and plant-eaters are often faced with the problem of restricted choice. The veg options available at most restaurants are few and far between and while dining out with family, friends or colleagues, the plant-eaters mostly end up playing second fiddle to the meat-eaters. Of course, we love that more and more vegetarian and vegan restaurants are cropping up around town, but we still seek inclusivity.
So here’s a list of 8 of my favourite restaurants for vegetarian fine dining in Singapore, or in some cases just a notch down from fine dining, but fantastic dining still. Yes, all of these restaurants offer everything from chicken to beef to seafood, but they’ve made sure that the herbivores are well catered to as well. The plethora of vegetarian choices available at all these restaurants will ensure that any vegetarian is spoilt for choice.
And of course, we wish that more restaurants would take a cue from these great 8 and add more vegetarian and vegan choices to their menus. So read on for 8 of our favourite mainstream restaurants for fine and fantastic vegetarian dining in Singapore.
1. NOX – Dine in the Dark (Cuisine: Asian Fusion)
For a unique fine dining experience that goes beyond the taste, much beyond, have a meal at NOX – Dine in the Dark. A complete sensory immersion of flavours, aromas, textures and mouth feel, each dish is an exercise in heightened senses.
At Nox, you dine in complete darkness. On your arrival in the lounge, you are briefed about the concept and how to make the most of it. At the entrance to the dining area, your server is introduced to you. You then climb a flight of stairs by tagging to your server’s shoulder in a hand-on-shoulder chain. The server then seats you down in pitch dark and guides you about how to reach for the cutlery, water and food.
While I won’t reveal the dishes we had, I’ll tell you this – the food is Asian Fusion and I had some amazing vegetarian dishes here. The Prix Fixe Dinner (S$88++ per person) serves 3 courses with 4 dishes each. Although, the food will be a surprise, they happily cater to dietary preferences, so request for your vegetarian meal while making your reservation.
At the end of the meal, you are quizzed about the meal, and then shown images of the food you ate. Trust me, you will be surprised. A truly novel and highly recommended experience!
NOX – Dine in the Dark: 269, Beach Road, Singapore 199546. P: +65 6298 0708
2. Jaan (Cuisine: Modern European)
For those extra special occasions, let the brilliant Kirk Westaway blow you away with his four, five and seven course Jardin Gourmand (Vegetarian) Menus, as he takes vegetables to new heights, presenting them in impossibly beautiful artistic ways while staying true to the ingredients. And who wouldn’t love the simple but whimsical names of his creations – think Summer Violin Courgette, Wild Spring Strawberry and Hen’s Egg. For lunch, the 4-Course set costs S$88++, and 5-courses go for S$128++. For dinner, the 7-course vegetarian spread costs a chunky $178++.
To be honest, Jaan is the one restaurant on this list, that I personally haven’t been to yet but a vegetarian friend sang such high praises of her recent dining experience here that I just had to include this in. According to her, “The entire dining experience was exceptional. Everything from the exquisitely presented dishes, to the delicate flavours, to the attentive service, was just perfect. I was especially blown away by the Golden Beetroot – 6 pieces of beetroot with each piece having a distinct flavour to it. While it is almost impossible to pick favourites from the meal, The Saffron & Ricotta Cannelloni did bode especially well with me, as did the absolutely amazing Peach Melba dessert.”
Overlooking the panoramic vistas of Singapore, the interiors are designed to showcase a free-form silver chandelier that sprawls across the all of the ceiling. The multi-award winning restaurant also has a Michelin Star.
Jaan: Level 70, Equinox Complex, Swissôtel The Stamford, 2 Stamford Road, Singapore 178882. P: +65 68373322
3. The Song Of India (Cuisine: Indian)
As Singapore’s only Indian restaurant with a Michelin Star, The Song of India is one of the obvious choices for anyone seeking an Indian meal. Located on Orchard Road, in a heritage bungalow, the restaurant is set amidst lush green surroundings. Opulent interiors, lavish décor, luxurious table settings and a lovely ambience, welcome you for a memorable meal.
If you’re eating a-la-carte, some of their most popular vegetarian starters include Kothimbir Wadi (a crispy appetizer made from fresh coriander and toasted sesame) and Vilayati Seekh (tandoor grilled broccoli, pineapple, zucchini, bell peppers & onions). My personal favourite is the Paneer Gulnar Tikka (Cottage cheese stuffed with figs & walnuts in a saffron yogurt marinade). Popular mains are Subz Mile Jule Kofta (dumplings made of a medley of veggies and cottage cheese, in a spiced curry from Lucknow); Palak Paneer and Tandoori Smoked Aubergine.
I particularly recommend The Song of India for Sunday Family Brunch Buffet. At S$48++, it is an absolute steal, as kids get to dine free. On offer are a plethora of all-you-can-eat appetizers, salads, curries, mains and desserts, with as many vegetarian options as the meats. There is also a live counter every Sunday, that serves only vegetarian fare from across India. For a review of Sunday Family Brunch, click here.
The Song of India: 33 Scotts Road, Singapore 228226. P: +65 6836 0055
4. Jim Thompson (Cuisine: Thai)
Jim Thompson Thai Restaurant & Wine Bar, Singapore, redefines Thai dining with its mix of traditional and contemporary food and ample vegetarian choices. Situated in Dempsey Hill in a heritage bungalow, with stunning architecture and dazzling interiors, it is a wonderful dining experience.
Their wine list is extensive and so is their vegetarian menu. The Siam Sunray cocktail (aptly called “Thailand in a Glass”) is must-try. As far as the soups go, you can’t go wrong with either Tom Yam or Tom Kha Pak. The salads are all excellent too, the Pomelo Salad (S$20) is simply perfect.
My top picks for mains would be Phad Thai Noodles (S$22), Gaeng Khew (Green Curry) and Gaeng Phed (Red Curry). I’m usually not a dessert person, but Jim Thompson’s Mango Sticky Rice repeatedly finds its way onto our table post-dinner.
Jim Thompson: 45 Minden Road, Dempsey Rd, Singapore 248817 P: +65 6475 6088
5. Blu Kouzina (Cuisine: Greek)
If you love Mediterranean food (and who doesn’t), Blu Kouzina will have you hooked with its choice of vegetarian fare. The restaurant serves authentic Greek cuisine, and is now situated in Dempsey Hill. The food and ambience are both fantastic, the blue and white décor always reminds me of Santorini.
Blu Kouzina’s Greek Salad is exemplary – colourful, appealing and made with the freshest, best quality ingredients. May I also recommend the skillet-grilled Saganaki with Figs – a delicious hard cheese served with a home-made Fig Sauce that is to die for. Other favourites for me here are the Zucchini Patties (S$18.80) and Vegetarian Mousaka.
They’ve recently added on to their already decent selection of veg dishes and any vegetarian could easily enjoy a 5-course meal here. They can also often cater to special vegetarian requests if they are informed beforehand. So if you want to go there with a group of friends, call them a few days in advance and they’ll let you know what special dishes they can serve.
Blu Kouzina: Dempsey Hill, 10 Dempsey Road (Blk 10), #01-21, 247700 Singapore. P: + 65-6875 0872
6. Open Farm Community (Cuisine: Modern European)
The brainchild of infamous Ryan Clift (of Tippling Club) and the Spa Esprit Group, this unique farm-to-table experience spearheads local farming across 35,000 square feet of farmland. The locally-sourced, seasonal menu is curated every month to showcase the best of the local produce available from their own farm and from local Farmers.
The vegetarian menu choices here might be fewer than the other restaurants in this list but the veg eats are so fresh and fantastic that I find myself drawn to OFC again and again. With dishes like Warm salad of broccoli (S$ 20++) and Garden holy basil gnocchi, pickled okra, lemon grass dressing, you’ll be in veggie heaven in no time. Their Avocado Mango smoothie is awesome too.
Open Farm Community: 30E Minden Road, Singapore 248819
7. Jamie’s Italian (Cuisine: Italian)
Jamie Oliver is a legend who is an advocate of cooking meals from scratch, sourcing sustainable and free-range products. Of the two Jamie’s Italian restaurants in Singapore, I prefer Forum as I find the service there to be much better than at Vivo. The décor is chic with terracotta tiled flooring, and an eclectic mix of reclaimed church chairs and upholstered armchairs. The bar features an antique brass counter top and hand-painted decorative tiles.
My absolute favourite dish here is the Classic Super Food Salad (S$26.50), which is a mix of lentils, quinoa, black rice, fennel, parsley, mint and roasted beets dressed in sherry vinegar and olive oil. Topped with char-grilled avocado, a dollop of cottage cheese, tender stem broccoli and a drizzle of harissa, the salad is finished with a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds and Jamie’s seed mix. And then there are the Crunchy Italian Nachos (S$12), fried to a crisp, this three-cheese ravioli is served with a spicy and yum Sicillian tomato sauce.
Kids love the Pimped Margherita (S$24.50) pizza, the Secret Seven Pasta from the Kids’ Menu and the Warm Chocolate Brownie (S$3.50). The Pasta sauce by the way, has 7 hidden veggies inside.
Jamie’s Italian, Forum: 583 Orchard Road, #01 01-04 Forum, Singapore 238884 P: +65 6655 7676
8. Margarita’s (Cuisine: Mexican)
The Mexican legend that is Margarita’s has many a vegetarian enamoured by its range of colourful and flavourful vegetarian dishes coupled with the feeling of home cooked comfort food.
The rustic charm of a plantation estate type setting, the colourful furniture, and the vibrant wrought iron decor reflect a cool vibe while at the same time giving it a warm welcoming feel. When here, you must have the Margaritas, my personal favourite is the Chile Margarita. Also a given are the Tortilla Chips with the dip of your choice. Kids love the jack-cheese stuffed Quesadillas (S$18) and the flavourful Mexican Rice, while my favourite main is Enchiladas Suicas Chatas de Nuevo (S$24) – stacks of tortillas filled with spinach, beans and rice and laced with an enchiladas sauce and cheese. The dish is topped with a sunny side up egg, which can be omitted upon request. Also worth a mention are the Chile Jalapeno Rellenos (aka Jalapeno poppers, S$24). Oh did I mention that the Kahlua Tiramisu here is to die for, and I’ve yet to find a better tiramisu in town.
Check out the full dining review here and find out how to Get Your Mexican Vegetarian Food Fix at Margarita’s.
Margarita’s® Dempsey Hill: Blk 11, Dempsey Road, #01-19, Singapore 249673. P: +65 6471 3228
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