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Sunday, 31 January 2016

{Invited Tasting] Dinner at New Fut Kai Vegetarian Restaurant (新佛界素食馆) @ Jalan Besar

282 Jalan Besar, Singapore 208945
Tel: 6398 0836
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/newfutkai
Opening Hours: 10.00am to 3.00pm, 5.00pm to 10.00pm (daily)

New Fut Kai Vegetarian Restaurant (新佛界素食馆) is situated at Jalan Besar, and has been serving delicious vegetarian cuisine to the vegetarian and non-vegetarian communities for the past decade. Their menu is extensive, from mock meat to mock seafood, even comprising of local delights such as vegetarian satay and spanning across other cuisines such as serving briyani rice!

They also offer home catering services so if you are having an event, do look for them. The catering menu is here.

Ambience is home-styled, comfortable but not extravagant; design leans heavily on Chinese flavour, with big round tables and wall decor items. Service was average but polite enough. There is an alfresco area for dining as well, if one doesnt mind sitting at the small alley beside the restaurant.

They have recently launched their new Vegetarian Steamboat menu  with interesting soup bases such as Savoury Soy Milk, Taiwanese Sha Cha or Laksa. There is even the traditional Charcoal Fish Head Steamboat.  This is an invited tasting and I am honoured to be able to try these new items.

While waiting, we were served drinks - Barley and a special Tangerine Orange Plum Drink, the latter was homemade and very highly-recommended with its notes of sweet and tartiness mixed into one. Appetisers were peanuts and "Achar" (pickled vegetables).

We started with Braised Vegetarian Shark's Fin Soup with Bamboo Fungus (SGD$12.00 for small / SGD$18.00 for medium / SGD$24.00 for large). The soup was smooth and not too thick; slivers of bamboo fungus simulated shark's fin and gave the soup a tasty flavour that brought it very close to the real deal.

Next, Deep Fried Abalone Mushroom with Pumpkin Sauce (SGD$12.00 for small / SGD$18.00 for medium / SGD$24.00 for large) - the abalone mushroom was battered and crispy on the exterior, with a tender and moistened interior. The pumpkin sauce was thick and saccharine, and as a result the dish was very tasty.

The star of the night was the Charcoal Fish Head Steamboat, served with enoki mushroom on the side.  Personally, this was my favorite dish of the night. The broth was delicious, tasted like the soup cooked with real sliced fish. The vegetarian / mock fish was made of beancurd skin and springy in texture. There were quite a fair bit of vegetables in the soup, making it a balanced meal.

Braised Asparagus with Lily and Shimeiji Mushrooms (SGD$12.00 for small / SGD$18.00 for medium / SGD$24.00 for large) was another seemingly simple but utterly delicious dish, crisp and fresh with the sweetness of sweet peas, asparagus, carrot, shimeiji mushrooms and crunchy lily.

Following that, we had the Sambal Hotplate Fish, served with limes on the side. This dish resembles a fish dish in an uncanny fashion, especially the appearance. One of my dinner companions nearly forgot that he was at a vegetarian restaurant, and began to look out for bones in the mock fish dish. Anyway, it was made of soy, so there was a crunchy texture to it, as well as a sweet taste, heavily obliterated by the delicious spicy sambal atop. I enjoyed it immensely because I can take very high level of spiciness, but feedback from other companions was that the sambal was too thick.

Then we had the Braised Vegetarian Ribs with Coffee (SGD$10.00 for small / SGD$15.00 for medium / SGD$20.00 for large). The tender, soft, mock meat was held together by sugar cane stick, and redolent of coffee's aroma.  It was a little too soft as compared to the real ribs, but overall flavour was robust.

Desserts time! We had the Red Bean Soup which was homemade - the kitchen would only start preparing this dish upon order, and there has to be 2 bowls minimally before they would prepare. It was not too thick - just the right amount of creaminess and smoothness.  Sweetness was well-balanced so it wasn't cloying, and the lotus seeds added crunch to the hot dessert soup.

Finally, Longan Sea Coconut, served cold. This was a refreshing and nectarous bowl of cold delight after a full dinner; loved how the sea coconut slid past the tongue so sweetly and silkily.

Overall experience at New Fut Kai Vegetarian Restaurant was amazing - food was quality and well-portioned, tasty and simulating their real counterparts strongly. Service was not affable but definitely above my expectations; ambience was cosy and comfortable. Thank you Lester and New Fut Kai for the invite!

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