The impressive line-up of Chinese New Year dishes served at Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant will make you forget that everything here is meat-free.
Chinese New Year is the time when people will usher in the year with auspicious sayings like shen ti jian kang (wishing you good health) and chang ming bai sui (may you have a long life). In the case of Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant’s Chinese New Year menu, the dishes bring out the meaning of these words.
The Chinese New Year menu is the brainchild of Rebecca Lee, who has over 13 years of culinary experience in vegetarian cuisine. Her skills have won her numerous accolades including Singapore’s Top Signature Dish Award. (By the way, she is the mum of Justin Chou, co-founder of popular casual vegetarian eatery Greendot.)
Besides helming the kitchen at Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant, Rebecca is also behind Lotus Kitchen, another vegetarian concept with a more casual dining ambience, located at Chinatown Point.
We must say, the nine-course Chinese New Year meal we tried had even the meat lovers at the table going for seconds. Among the favourites in the menu are the nourishing Double Boiled ‘Tian Ma’ Soup and the comforting Longevity Noodles in Special Broth, using noodles imported from Taiwan. (Read more about these dishes below.)
The Chinese New Year menu is available at both outlets, but if you’re planning to have a gathering of 10 people or more, opt for Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant which has a traditional fine-dining concept with more seats.
Nine-course Chinese New Year Set Menu A ($568++, serves 10)
1. Prosperity Yu Sheng
A must-have for reunion dinner, yushengs these days come in many variations, including vegetarian. Other than the usual shredded white radish and carrots, this dish has slices of apple and lotus root that give it a sweet crunch.
The dressing of lemongrass-infused oil and homemade fruit-based sauce added a tangy touch to the yusheng. Thin slices of vegetarian bak kwa, made from soya, give the dish an added smokiness.
In a traditional yusheng, the star ingredient is of course the raw fish. The “salmon sashimi” from this vegetarian dish is made from konnyaku (a Japanese yam) managed to nail the texture of raw fish: soft and slightly chewy. Tossed with the sauce, the fish looks like the real deal. Overall, this dish is a refreshing take on yusheng, and definitely wouldn’t disappoint.
This yusheng ($28, serves two to four; $38, serves five to seven; $48, serves eight to 10) is available for takeaway.
2. Lotus Classic Combination
A classic Chinese course, this combo includes fried lion mane’s mushroom, seaweed rolls, lotus ball and braised oyster mushroom. The fried lion mane’s mushroom is our favourite. Crispy on the outside, the mushroom had a texture of shredded meat, making this starter a hearty snack.
3. Double Boiled ‘Tian Ma’ Soup
Brewed for over eight hours using 10 herbs and ingredients like tian ma, dang gui and fresh shiitake mushrooms, this pot of nourishing soup really reminds us of grandma’s cooking. Tian ma is a Chinese herb that is said to reduce wind and even treat headaches.
4. Golden Bowl of Fortune Pen Cai
The first thing that would strike you is how authentic this bowl of vegetarian pen cai looks. It’s overflowing with a medley of ingredients, everything replicated perfectly to look like your premium pen cai ingredients like abalone, scallops and fish maw. It does not taste like real seafood, but the 22 ingredients are so different in texture, making everything in this treasure pot a must-try. The pen cai must have been left to simmer for a long time because the broth beneath the ingredients is very flavourful and thick like collagen.
This dish ($148, serves eight) is available for takeaway.
5. Homemade Traditional Fish with Fruit Salad
Made with soya, this fish is drizzled with an appetising sweet and sour sauce. The best part about this dish: there are no bones to pick out.
6. Pumpkin Balls with Lily Flowers and Greens
Every dish served up is like a party in the mouth, and this is no exception. Stuffed with mixed mushrooms, these handmade pumpkin balls are like nothing we have tried before, in a good way. Think savoury version of tang yuan. The mushroom filling is fragrant and chewy, making you want to reach out for more. Palate-cleansing Shanghai greens and black fungus are served on the side.
7. King Oyster Mushrooms with Black Pepper Lettuce Wrap with Almond Flakes
How you eat this is how you would eat your peking duck wrapped in a Chinese pancake. Black pepper sauce is drizzled over fried mushroom slices, and complements the braised mushrooms and almond flakes in the lettuce wrap. Yes, it is messy to eat, but the nutty, savoury taste is totally worth it.
8. Longevity Noodles in Special Broth
Imported from Taiwan, these silky smooth longevity noodles (mee sua) are soft with a delightful bite. They are twirled into convenient serving sizes you can spoon together with the wholesome broth. Made with top-grade black sesame oil and a mixture of Chinese herbs, the broth is rich and robust.
9. Tea Jelly with Fungus and Coconut
Made from green tea and pu’er, this wobbly, floral-tasting dessert really hits the spot. It’s paired with coconut soya milk, and filled with barley and snow fungus, so you’ll leave the restaurant feeling rather healthy.
The Chinese New Year menu will be available at Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant (Level 2, Quality Hotel Marlow, tel: 6254-0090) from February 9 to March 2, and at Lotus Kitchen (#01-01/02 Chinatown Point, tel: 6538-1068) from February 14 to March 2.