With more health-conscious diners looking to go green, a crop of new vegetarian options at various restaurants in Singapore has sprouted over the past few months. But these are not your usual salad bars or raw food eateries.
To cater to those looking for a plant-based diet, business owners are becoming more creative in the ingredients and flavours used – and shying away from mock meat where possible. They are also catering to the palates of “flexitarians” – casual vegetarians who are unable or unwilling to eliminate meat from their diet completely.
“In recent years, we have seen a steady increase in requests for vegetarian or vegetable-centric options as guests become more health and sustainability- conscious,” says Leong Chee Yeng, Jade’s Chinese Executive Chef, who launched a sustainable, plant-based vegan “Taste The Future” menu late last year.
“With plant-forward cuisine trending in the food scene, vegetable-focused dishes are definitely getting more attention from conscious diners,” says Andrew Walsh, chef-owner of Cure Restaurant & Butcher Boy Singapore. “Even those with conventional mindsets are also pleasantly surprised at how hearty and fulfilling plant-based dishes can be.”
“I have always believed that vegetables should not be viewed as just an accompaniment but as equals to any protein on a plate,” says Julien Royer, who serves his signature vegetarian menus to 20 per cent of his clientele at the two Michelin-starred Odette.
Over at the one-starred Meta, chef-owner Sun Kim believes in creating “a strong vegetarian menu that guests can enjoy, rather than doing it as an afterthought”. He’s learned to treat vegetables like good meat, simply seasoning and charring them over charcoal to maximise their sweetness.
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In turn, Chef Leong’s objective is to debunk the belief that vegetarian or vegetable-centric dishes are bland.
“As a chef, my job is to showcase ingredients to their best effect. We use garlic in stir-fries to enhance the original taste of the vegetables. Preserved vegetables work to round off a vegetarian dish, while mushrooms add natural umami. At Jade, we use house-made spring onion, shallot and peanut oils to enhance flavours too.”
At Cure, no part of a plant goes wasted, with even the humble potato skin dehydrated to add texture to dishes. “We believe that all parts of the vegetable can be savoured and showcased in inventive ways, turning potential food waste into unconventional elements,” says Chef Walsh.
Read on to find out about the best vegetarian restaurants in Singapore right now: