If being a vegan ever felt unfair at a restaurant, head to Bakalaki Greek Taverna, Singapore. Bakalaki’s offering of plant-based dishes will have vegetarians and even vegans jumping up and down in glee! The simple yet delicious authentic Greek food at Bakalaki gives you a harmonious taste of homemade style food paired with restaurant style cooking. Every morsel is comfort food that transports you to your moms’ and grand-moms’ hearth, which is the intent.
Located in the heart of Tiong Bahru, Bakalaki Greek Taverna has a lively yet relaxing vibe. The restaurant has alfresco seating on the patio and an indoor dining area that is huge. The interior space is large and bright, the decor is stunning with earthy tones and teal accents thrown in. There are quite a few cool elements – the barrels, the orange lights and a wine wall shaped like the Greek flag.
We went for lunch on a Friday afternoon and the restaurant was abuzz, there was quite a crowd. We were welcomed by the General Manager Mr. George Kokinnis, who suggested some of Bakalaki’s best plant-based dishes for us to try, and gave us a quick brief on every vegetarian, vegan and can-be-done-vegan dish as they arrived.
Appetisers at Bakalaki
VEGAN: Bread Basket, Pita, Hummus, Melitzanosalata Agioritiki
Can be done VEGAN: Tomatokeftedes
VEGETARIAN: Tyrokafteri, Tzatziki, Halloumi
The appetisers at Bakalaki were the highlight of our meal. Upon being seated, we were served a complementary Bread Basket. I relished the homemade bread dipped in Bakalaki EVOO, which is exemplary.
Start with the perfectly grilled Pita & Dips. While the Hummus and Tyrokafteri (spiced feta spread with Greek yogurt and roasted red peppers) are good, the Melitzanosalata Agioritiki (a spread of smoked eggplants with red peppers, garlic and Bakalaki EVOO) and Tzatziki are flawless. I mostly find Tzatziki to be too creamy and short on flavour, Bakalaki’s Tzatziki, however, was flawless – it tasted creamy yet light and was flavoured just right.
Next up, the grilled Halloumi served with a side of fresh pesto sauce is nice and chewy, and pairs well wih the pesto. Also quite good are Tomatokeftedes (S$15.90) – herbed Tomato patties served with a yogurt based dip, that can be easily omitted. I loved the slight tanginess and the hint of semi dried tomato in the patties. I also quite liked the slightly “burnt” taste which didn’t appeal as much to Sudha.
Salads at Bakalaki
Bakalaki’s classic Greek Salad, Horiatiki (S$20.90) is simply outstanding, you can tell that the produce and ingredients used are all top class. The cherry tomatoes on vine deserve a special mention, these are sourced from Italy or Holland and are the juiciest, tastiest tomatoes ever. This is a Salad you would come back for! Horiatiki can be done vegan upon request, the Feta can be served on the side, or omitted entirely.
Mains at Bakalaki
VEGAN: Briam, Gemista (ask for Feta on the side to be omitted), Gigandes Plaki
VEGETARIAN: Vegetarian Moussaka
Briam was definitely the star dish from the mains. The simple, colourful dish of Grilled Vegetables is unbelievably yummy. It is a potpourri of flavours with no single dominating flavour. Everything about the dish is just perfect – never before have I enjoyed grilled vegetables so much. We were so bowled over by the dish that we asked to speak to the Chef to appreciate it. Chef Spiros Palaiologos mentioned that he marinates the vegetables in EVOO with garlic, dill and oregano and the dish is further flavoured with just a touch of salt and pepper. Most highly recommended!
The Gigandes Plaki (S$17.90), a dish of oven baked giant beans in tomato sauce didn’t fare as well. While it was good, it isn’t something that bowled us over. This dish might probably appeal more to kids.
Yes, there is more… Gemista – Green Pepper and Tomatoes stuffed with rice and mint, with roasted potatoes and feta cheese on the sides – is quite good too. The Feta on the side can be omitted upon request to make Gemista vegan, there is no cheese used in the dish itself.
Ending off the mains was Vegetarian Moussaka. If you’re a fan of eggplant, go for this. I’m not, so this didn’t excite me much but I could appreciate the layers of eggplant and thinly sliced potato, baked with a béchamel sauce. Surprisingly, I quite liked the potato and found it to be different and unexpected.
Desserts at Bakalaki
You’d think that after all that food, we wouldn’t have space for dessert and you would be right. However, food as delicious as that at Bakalaki deserves a bit of over-eating. Enter Baklava! Since Sudha is way more appreciative of desserts than I am, I decided to let her do the talking here – “I loved the Baklava. The filo pastry was crispy and syrupy on top, and the next few layers walked the fine line between crisp and soft, with the cinnamon and clove flavoured walnut hidden inside… Oh, so divine! It is a bit on the sweeter side but tastes just perfect once you hit the walnuts and spices.”
While Sudha was in love with the Baklava, the Yiaourti appealed more to me. Yiaourti is Greek yogurt topped with chopped walnuts and honey. The simple sounding dish actually tasted quite good at Bakalaki. It is not overly sweet and I found it to be the perfect way to conclude a flabulous meal!
Note: Bakalaki does not offer any vegan dessert on the menu as such, but we were told that the Loukoumades, which are Greek Doughnuts, can be done vegan. The dish normally contains honey which is optional and can be removed upon request.
Verdict and Top Dishes at Bakalaki
In all, Bakalaki Greek Restaurant in Singapore is a treat for every vegan and vegetarian with a desire to try out delectable Greek food. Head to Bakalaki once and we assure you great food will draw you back umpteen times.
While we enjoyed most of the dishes, there were a few winners that were a notch above the others. If I had to pick favourites, they would be Horiatiki, Pita with Melitzanosalata and Tzatziki, Briam, Yiaourti.
Bakalaki Greek Taverna: 3 Seng Poh Road, Singapore 168891. P: +65 6836 3688