First off, I’m just going to be honest and say why we came to Singapore. If you’re travelling in or around SE Asia, you’ll probably have a layover in Singapore. This was the case for us, but instead of just laying over, I decided we’d stay for five days. The reason is quite simple – it’s the Vegan Food capital of the world. Knowing this, there was no way I was going to miss the opportunity to eat my face off. Plus, one of the national languages is English, which is obviously quite comforting after coming from Bali, and heading to Thailand afterwards. It’s little break from the culture shock of Asia, coming from the western side of the world.
There were a lot of options as Singapore is a big city – but as we knew we’d have plenty of time to eat Thai food and other international dishes, we ate a lot of Indian food…which gets a rap for using a lot of dairy, but if you order the right dishes, you’ll still be able to be on the vegan side of things. Remembering to ask for no yogurt is also important. I sometimes forgot to do so, but chose to just not eat that part of my plate.
We also ate a fair amount of “Chinese” food, which uses mock meat, and randomly uses egg in such things as spring rolls (the wrapping paper), noodles, and other random things, so watch yourself – though it is mostly vegan stuff, don’t be afraid to ask. And by ask, I mean ask, don’t point! Lesson learned, don’t point until you’re confident the person helping you speaks english well enough to understand your question, or they may just start packing up your ‘request’.
If you find yourself in a foreign country and the server/cook doesn’t understand what you mean by “vegan”, they do typically understand “no egg, no milk”, etc. Stay patient, and don’t be afraid to repeat yourself politely. Don’t forget, google translate is a real gem!
If you’re on a budget, stick to hawker centers/markets. Happycow.net is also a super helpful resource.
Some of the super duper places we ate (and best believe, they were all top notch.)
Fun Toast – A small coffee chain that had delicious puffy white bread with various toppings. I had peanut butter toast quite often, and I tried their kaya butter sans butter (typically a spread made of coconut and dates, but they often put a big pat of butter on the bread as well.) I wouldn’t call it a vegan’s paradise, as the toast is probably the only vegan option on the menu, but its hella good regardless. Plus, the coffee is pretty darn good, and is quite cheap.
Ananda Bhavan – this place was a bit more than the Tekka centre, but it was a full fledged restaurant. It was busy as hell, which is always a good sign. I suspect it is a chain restaurant, as the sign read “since 1924”, and I’m no history major, but I don’t believe Singapore was around then. We got a dosa (thosai) and a couple of samosas. We went to the tekka centre for quite a late lunch, so we weren’t super hungry.
Vegandeli, Fortune Centre – A bit pricey for a “set”/bento meal – your choice of faux meat option, veggie and carb (7.90$ for rice or 9.90$ for ramen), but is definitely worth trying. I got the black pepper beef, mixed veggies and ramen. The black pepper beef also came with zucchini and tomates. It totally was worth the price, and if I wasn’t on a budget and lived in Singapore, I would easily eat there once a week minimum.
Shree Ganga – A delightful little vegetarian stall inside Lau Pa Sat Festival Market, the cook/owner is very friendly, and has a wide range of options. Prices are reasonable (1.50$ for a large samosa, 5-7$ for a big rice plate). The dosas are made fresh to order, which is a treat to watch.
Komala Villas – As per a gentleman we met later on, the best vegetarian Indian food in Singapore. It was super delicious, and for 7-9$, we both got set plates/thali plates. Let me just say, this plate was HUGE. Ian couldn’t finish it. I finished it, but walked around the rest of the night looking pregnant. Lesson learned, don’t be a hero, and don’t order the thali plate – the signs indicate you cannot order one to share. You’re better off ordering something else, unless you want to gorge yourself. (You don’t!)
NomVnom – Wow! Great service, amazing vegan burgers and cool sides (fries, vietnam yam rolls, salads, mushroom fritters, etc) and super delicious drinks. Though they consider themselves “fast food”, it is a bit pricier than typical fast food offerings. That being said, the service does definitely keep up with any fast food chain out there. I got the QQ Cheesy, fries + some kind of tea (barley I believe). Ian got the nom nom burger + vietnam yam rolls.
Kwan Inn – Located in a mostly Buddhist area of Singapore, a friend we met at NomVNom recommended this gem. It is in a hawker centre (pay attention, there are two locations, one is a fancy restaurant, though owned by the same people, we went to the hawker centre location – between Geylang Loring 31+29, look for the yellow uniforms). What a treat! The employees english isn’t the best, so this is one exception where asking what something is won’t serve you well, especially if you also point at it. They will take that to mean you want it, and will serve it to you. It’s a buffet style, so you pick what you want and they tell you how much. Very reasonable prices.
Cl Yan Organic Vegetarian Health Food – A precious gem of a find in the heart of the Chinatown market. Close to bridge street, but on the “food street”, this super little place has 5 things on the menu daily, plus a couple of dessert options. Once they sell out of that dish, it gets erased from the chalk board. Prices are reasonable, and you pay when the food comes to your table. Ian and I both got the Laksa (a Perankan traditional dish) soup, and paid around 6$ each. Unfortunately, we hadn’t eaten much that day, so we weren’t quite satisfied after the soup. It would make a great light lunch.
Xing Hua – Right on the corner, within the Fortune centre lies Xing Hua. It is fantastically delicious, but a tip – ensure you visit during the day, unless you’re not on a budget. Ian and I went in around 7:30 pm looking for a set meal (a reasonable price, ranging from 5.90-7.90$S if I recall), but as it was later on in the evening, set meals were done. We were starving, in a bit of a hurry and not much else in the Fortune Centre seemed to be open, so we ended up ordering anyways. We got two faux meat dishes (Spicy Chick’n + Dried Chili Chick’n), two veggies dishes (sambal petals and soy beans + sautéed broccoli, complete with little bat shaped carrots, faux crab meat and tiny mushrooms) and a noodle dish (lor mee with faux seafood on top), which was a bit more food than we expected, but had no problem finishing. The whole meal cost 40$, which was a blow to the old budget, but our stomachs were quite pleased anyhow.
“Lotus” Vegetarian Food (stall at Tekka Centre) – I have no idea what the name of this place is as the title was not in english, but look for the lotus flowers on the sign and “vegetarian”. The ladies were very friendly, patient and their english was not bad. We both loaded up our plates for a reasonable 3.80$ for my plate, and 4.80$ for Ians (he got noodles, which I suspect is where the extra dollar came from.)
“Vegetarian” Indian food stall at the Tekka Centre) – This place is pretty darn delicious, but word to the wise – go earlier in the morning, we’re talking like 9-10 am. We went twice, and the first time we went, around 1 pm, and since everything had been cooked that morning, they used the microwave to reheat the food, which killed the texture. If you intend on getting some goodies (samosas, dosas, etc.) I highly suggest going in the morning and getting them fresh!
Other general places to get your eat on
I highly recommend visiting the Fortune Centre, located on Middle Road, for all kinds of vegan snacks and eats. There is a store right beside vegandeli that sells all kinds of spices, mock meats, ramen, etc.
Tekka centre, Little India – our hostel was in Little India, and just 5 minutes away lies the Tekka Centre. Food stalls cramped in like size 10 feet in size 6 shoes, all looking delicious. As we were in Little India, most were Indian food, though some were Sri Lankan, others Chinese, etc. Food is cheap here, and mega delicious! We got the best garlic naan ever, Dahl and some saag paneer (not vegan as it is cheese, but there were plenty of other vegan options.)
Unique and Honorable mention that does not isolate itself to one restaurant
Kacang prounced “kah-Chang” a dessert that is really appealing to the eye, but is strange, and at times, delicious. It’s basically a shaved ice dessert (perfect for the lack of air con at the hawker centre we were at at the time, Lau Pa Sat Festival Market), with red beans and corn, plus some random jello at the bottom. I avoided the jello obviously, but from what I understand the rest was vegan. There were three different syrup flavours at play – rose (yes, like the flower), honeydew melon and chocolate or something like it. Surprisingly, the beans and corn worked. Definitely one of the weirder things I’ve eaten on this trip.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my take on the vegan Singapore food scene – if you have any other places that you’ve been and would recommend, please comment below!