This is the second part in a recap of my vegan and vegetarian dining adventures in Singapore. View part one here.
For my next two main meals in Singapore, I was accompanied by my fellow business travelers. We didn’t have dinner plans for our first night in town but were pretty tired after the long flight, so I thought we’d give the Orchard Road hawkers another shot. We ventured down to Lucky Plaza to try to find “Fancy Vegetarian,” which was listed on the Vegetarian Society Singapore website so I assumed it was legit. After wandering around for awhile in the basement lost, we finally found it – closed. As a result, we came close to bailing on local food all together and going to California Pizza Kitchen like good Americans, but thought better of it when the wait was too long.
Out of pure exhaustion at this point, we opted to go to the nearby Pan Pacific Hotel restaurant, called 10 at Claymore. The restaurant offered a dinner buffet that seemed to include many vegetarian and vegan options. I didn’t have a big appetite so I reviewed the menu for something less ambitious. I assumed I’d end up with pasta with red sauce, which is my standard vegan hotel food default order. However, since they weren’t busy, I took a chance and asked if the chef could make anything vegetarian that wasn’t on the menu. I was offered fried rice, and asked how I’d like it prepared. I asked for no egg/dairy/animal-based stock, and with tofu.
Much to my delight, I was presented with a gorgeous dish of lightly fried (not greasy) rice with mixed vegetables, plenty of perfectly prepared fried tofu, mini samosas and mock prawns that I believe were vegan.
It was quite good and exactly what I wanted – to the point where I asked the waiter to please thank the chef for me. I did add extra soy sauce because, well, I’m American, but the as-is flavor was delightful – slightly sweet, but with the samosas providing a hint of spice on the side. Mock/vegetarian fish products make me queasy as a rule, but since I was tickled with the overall presentation I was a big girl and tried one. There was no fishy flavor (especially since I drenched it in soy sauce) but the texture was a bit like artichoke. I didn’t care for it, but at least I tried it!
Dinner the next night was an extension of our meeting that day. Our hosts took us to Thanying Restaurant at the Amara Hotel, 165 Tanjong Pagar Road, which was a nice Thai restaurant. The idea of eating Thai food filled me with both excitement and fear because I love Thai food, but I didn’t know if I was healthy enough to be able to tolerate Thai spices yet.
While my dinner companions experienced a wide variety of interesting dishes that looked beautiful (the red curry with chicken was declared the winner by the table), I tried two items that I thought would be vegan and not too spicy – the tofu satay with peanut sauce and tofu Panang curry, which the waiter told me could be made mild and with no fish sauce. The tofu satay was prepared in two different ways – the typical blocks of fried tofu, plus what I would call “fried bundles of tofu skins” – tight rolls of thin, crispy tofu that soaked up the peanut sauce well. The peanut sauce was more sweet than spicy, and good enough that I ate far more fried tofu than I should have!
The Panang with tofu was hands-down the best Thai curry I’ve ever had.
While the chef’s definition of “mild” and mine differ quite a bit, the chili heat was perfectly balanced with the lemongrass, galangal and coconut milk. The flavors leapt from the dish. I can still taste the curry in my mind. I hope that someday I’m able to find a Panang curry that tastes as spectacular in Phoenix so I can stop obsessing over it! I also felt very comfortable that both dishes were vegan, and have added Thanying Restaurant to my personal list of “best bets” for international vegan travelers.
Both of these meals left me feeling like I was in great shape for the rest of the trip, and I got a lot more adventurous for dinner the next day. Stay tuned for my next post in this series, on a fantastic Indian restaurant in Singapore!