Monday, June 6, 2011

Xin Yi Vegetarian

Not long after I thanked VSS e-newsletter for introducing Hozen Vegetarian Cafe a couple of posts ago, the following issue alerted me to yet another newly opened vegetarian eatery. This notification landed me in International Plaza near Tanjong Pagar MRT station (Yay no more Bugis or Aljunied! ). With Loving Hut Cafe in the same building and Whole Earth nearby, this area is not exactly deprived of vegetarian eateries. To a vegetarian however, an additional choice of a place to dine at is never too much.

Based on what is printed on the shop front, I infer that Xin Yi Vegetarian is a subsidiary of Earth Kitchen, also in International Plaza. Unlike Xin Yi, Earth Kitchen is a non-vegetarian eatery. Since I went there with an empty stomach, figuring out the exact relationship between these two eateries was less important than selecting something to tame my hunger. After scanning through the extensive menu, I decided that the set meals were the more value for money choices. Call me stingy if you like but I do not pay anything above S$6.00 for a meal just to eat gluten or common hawker fare. Hence I ordered mini hotpot set. At a price of S$8.80, the set comes with a pot of nourishing (According to the Chinese name) mixed vegetable soup, a bowl of white rice and a small plate of tempura items. Upon request, one can substitute white rice with brown rice at an additional cost of 50 cents.

The Food

(Pic 1)

Never underestimate the importance of reading fine prints. That's the lesson I learned at Xin Yi. When my food arrived, the tempura side dish captured my attention first because it looked nothing like what I saw on the menu (Click here to see the menu which opens up in a new window or tab. Pay attention to the footnote which reads “All pictures are for visual reference only”). Instead of tempura vegetables, all I had resembled shreds of tempura batter. Sampling a couple of them confirmed my observation. Crispy and a little heavily seasoned, I believed this side dish would be enjoyed by anyone who loved to snack on packets of salty titbits found commonly in Mama Shops. Unfortunately (But fortunate for my health), I preferred whole food to these “goodies” these days.

The mini hotpot soup itself contained a reasonable amount of mushrooms, especially the premium shimeji variety, to prevent me from labelling this set meal a rip off. Generously filling up the soup, the Chinese cabbage had a natural sweetness, meaning that the inner portion of the vegetable, also my favourite part, was used. Other born to be sweet ingredients include the chunks of pumpkin, sweet corn and taro. Herbal soup base was used to further justify the price. I’m sure Chinese in general would appreciate the health value of these herbs but to the non-Chinese, the flavour might be an acquired taste. What could have been the saving grace of this set meal was undermined by excess seasoning, particularly pepper. If I was not famished that day, I might have skipped the soup itself.

After finishing the soup, I felt rather warm despite the strong air-conditioning. Either the herbs used in the soup were of warming nature or there’s simply too much pepper. Therefore I do not recommend this set meal to individuals with a yang body constitution, aka “heatiness”. If you aren’t familiar with Traditional Chinese Medicine, simply avoid this soup on a hot day. Nourishment, in the Chinese context, is very different from what we are taught in modern science.


Although it is partially my fault for missing out on the disclaimer, I still feel a little cheated because of the tempura side dish. Previously, when I dined at slightly more expensive places such as Honzen or Trust, what I saw on the menu was pretty much what I got. While I do not expect an exact replica of what is shown in the photograph, at the very least, the ingredients should match.

Normally I do not have much reason to travel to Tanjong Pagar. Price is also a deterrent. Hence I do not see myself returning to Xin Yi Vegetarian. However if I happen to be around that area on a weekday, I may try their slightly cheaper vegetarian curry rice. Or should I play safe and go to Loving Hut instead?

Address:10 Anson Road Internation Plaza #01-50A, Tanjong Pagar, S(579903)
Opening Hours:Mon - Sat, 11:00 am - 3.00 pm, 5:00 pm - 11.30 pm
Bus Service:-
MRT Station:Tanjong Pagar