Vegetarian Tan Jia Hui, 25, used to find it difficult to choose a restaurant when dining out with meat-loving friends.
The finance analyst says: “My friends are not keen on vegetarian restaurants and, when we dine at a non-vegetarian restaurant, I usually end up eating salads or fries.”
But now, diners such as Ms Tan can enjoy a wider variety of food choices as more restaurants are finding it worth their while to cater to diners who want vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free and keto-friendly options.
Ms Tan now frequents eateries such as casual all-day-dining outlet Prive Chjimes, which offers vegetarian items including Truffled Field Mushroom Madness made with button and portobello abalone mushrooms.
She says: “My meat-loving friends find it delicious too and even ask to share it with me.
“Previously, they always declined to try my salads.”
Mr Yuan Oeij, 49, chairman of The Prive Group, says Prive began serving vegetarian and veganfriendly dishes last year.
He thinks that vegetarian and vegan diners are under-served by the market.
“Too many vegetarians I know have mentioned how hard it is to find restaurants that serve vegetarian options.”
Prive has six outlets and a quarter of the menu at each outlet is vegetarian or vegan.
The Prive Group has also introduced a vegetarian dim sum brunch menu at its smart-casual Chinese restaurant Empress at Asian Civilisations Museum.
The a la carte buffet’s vegetarian dishes include teapot soup and steamed mushroom and corn dumplings.
Australian chef Shannon Binnie, who moved to Singapore in 2011, says he started noticing more diners asking for vegetarian and gluten-free options three years ago.
So when the time came to reboot Salt Tapas & Bar in Raffles City Shopping Centre, he decided to offer more plant-based dishes with vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free plates, alongside free-range, organic meat and seafood.
Out of the 28 items on the menu at The Botanic, eight are vegan and eight are vegetarian.
Since its opening last month, about 60 per cent of the restaurant’s customers have chosen the vegan and vegetarian options.
Group executive chef Binnie, 40, says more planning, research and testing are needed to come up with vegan and vegetarian dishes that are appealing in terms of flavour and taste.
He and his team took five months to come up with a gluten-free flatbread just in time for the restaurant’s opening.
The flatbread, made from chickpea and tapioca flour, is prepared in-house and is part of a gluten-free dish of Burrata, which comes with butternut pumpkin, rockets, olive oil and grilled bread. The glutenfree flatbread is also available as a side order for $4 and has become a customer favourite.
Those who want keto-friendly dishes can find them at Kitchen by Food Rebel in Telok Ayer.
The cafe uses organic coconut oil and olive oil and the food is also dairy-free and refined-sugar-free.
Its popular Avocado Lime Cake uses rice syrup sourced from Bali as a sweetener.
A keto diet is a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet.
Mrs Janti Joso Brasali, 53, who is on such a diet, decided to open a bakery after she found that people such as her face limited options for desserts and breads.
Seriously Keto bakery, which will open in Orchard Road in February, will use gluten-free almond flour and erythritol as natural sweeteners.
Bread Street Kitchen at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, Gordon Ramsay’s internationally renowned restaurant concept from London, has taken a further step by providing five different menus for different groups of diners.
There is a regular a la carte menu with 49 items, a dairy-free menu with 33 items, a gluten-free menu with 36 items, a vegan menu with eight items and a vegetarian menu with eight items.
The restaurant’s executive chef, Chef Sabrina Stillhart, 33, who is from Switzerland, says: “Diners with special dietary requirements feel more comfortable when ordering an item that is already available instead of having to order something off-menu and explain their needs.
“It also makes the order-taking process more efficient for our front-of-house staff.”
She says that two out of 10 diners at Bread Street Kitchen request the special menus and many customers become regulars because the restaurant can cater to their diets.
The restaurant has found that even diners who are not observing dietary restrictions are opting for healthier options.
Chef Stillhart says: “After feasting over Christmas and during New Year, some diners feel the need to eat healthier or get back in shape. So those who do not usually have dietary preferences also want more options such as vegetarian or dairyfree dishes.”
Even zi char restaurants have caught on the health-conscious dining trend.
Last year, the popular New Ubin Seafood introduced vegetarian dishes such as Garang Grill Vegetable Platter, which is an assortment of charcoal-grilled vegetables like butternut squash, portobello mushroom and broccolini; and Togarashi Pearl Corn, which is grilled corn seasoned with a Japanese spice mix.
The restaurant plans to relaunch its menu to highlight its vegetarian dishes and to indicate which dishes can be modified to be gluten-free.
Mr Alexander Pang, 33, chief executive and chef of New Ubin Seafood, which has three outlets, says: “A dish such as Garang Grill Vegetable Platter, which serves two to four people, encourages vegetarian and non-vegetarian diners to share the same dish.”
Chef Binnie of Botanic says: “In the past, chefs may not be keen to cater to special diets. But this is a different era.
“In the competitive food scene, more chefs and restaurant owners are willing to cater to special diets as this is a growing segment of the market.”
KITCHEN BY FOOD REBEL
What: The organic cafe has a selection of food prepared without dairy products and refined sugar. It serves keto-friendly Bullet Proof Coffee ($6.50 nett) made with grass-fed butter. The Zoodle Bolognese ($18 nett, above), made of zucchini noodles with grass-fed beef, is also keto-friendly.
The gluten-, dairy- and nut-free Chicken Buddha Bowl ($19 nett) is made with hormone-free chicken, hummus, avocado, pumpkin and housemade tahini dressing.
Where: 28 Stanley Street
Open: 8am to 6pm (Mondays to Fridays); 9am to 3pm (Saturdays). Closed on Sundays and public holidays
What: The New Zealand Red Snapper with Baba Ganoush and Basil Oil ($42++, above) is keto-friendly. It also has a hamachi crudo with green Sicilian olives, tomato water, basil and almonds ($26++) which is gluten-free.
Where: 40-01, CapitaGreen, 138 Market Street
Open: 11.30am to 2pm, 6 to 10pm (Mondays to Fridays); 6 to 10pm (Saturdays). Closed on Sundays
What: The restaurant has a gluten-free bread called the Stangee (above), made with millet, white rice and buckwheat flour. It is available in two sizes – small ($6.50) and large ($12). Orders must be placed 24 hours in advance.
Where: 237 East Coast Road
Open: 11.30am to 10pm (Tuesdays to Fridays); 10am to 10pm (Saturdays and Sundays). Closed on Mondays
What: This European restaurant at boutique hotel Six Senses Maxwell, which uses natural ingredients to promote wellness, serves a vegetarian Wild Mushroom Risotto ($22++), made using coconut cream and roasted forest mushrooms. There are also gluten-free options such as the Tuna Tartare ($28++), which features olives, pickled leek, shaved egg and a Jamon vinaigrette dressing.
Where: Murray Terrace Brasserie, 2 Cook Street
Open: 11.30am to 2.30pm; 5.30 to 10.30pm (Tuesdays to Saturdays). Closed on Sundays and Mondays
What: The seafood restaurant in Hillview Avenue has vegetarian options such as the Garang Grill Vegetable Platter ($38++, above), which includes charcoal-grilled butternut squash, portobello mushroom, broccolini and asparagus. There is also vegetarian fried rice ($15++) prepared with chye sim, carrot, white cabbage and straw mushroom.
What: The bakery, which will open in February, offers a ketogenic selection of low-carbohydrate baked goods made with natural ingredients. The menu will include Monster Cookie ($15 nett for 15 pieces), Double Chocolate Chip ($15 nett for 15 pieces ) and the Red Velvet Keto Cake ($38 nett for a 10cm cake, above).
Where: 10-01 Orchard Central, 181 Orchard Road
BREAD STREET KITCHEN
What: Standout dishes include the BSK Short Rib Burger with smoked bacon ketchup and chips ($29++) which is dairy-free, and the vegan menu includes Green Pea Risotto with asparagus and crunchy pea shoots ($32++).
Where: L1-81 Bay Level, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue
Open: 11.30 to 1am (Mondays to Thursdays); 11.30 to 2am (Fridays); 7.30 to 2am (Saturdays); 7.30 to 1am (Sundays)
What: The newly opened restaurant has a plant-based Prive Fresh set menu ($22++) which includes a choice of one soup and one main.
There are two choices of soups: garden pea soup and carrot & red pepper aoup.
There are three mains to choose from: The Signature “Get Fresh” platter which includes Middle Eastern avocado toast and Vietnamese rice paper rolls (above); lentil and thyme bolognese with zucchini “noodles”; and the chickpea masala and tandoori vegetable wrap.
The set menu is available from 11.30am to 5pm, Mondays to Fridays.
Where: 01-37 The Paragon, 290 Orchard Road
Open: 8.30 to 1am (Sundays to Thursdays); 8.30am to 2am (Fridays, Saturdays and eve of public holidays)
What: The 15 outlets of Cedele Bakery Cafe have a selection of vegan items, including six types of vegan sandwiches such as the quinoa tofu pumpkin burger ($8.50 nett) which contains vegan bap, white tahini sauce, purple slaw, tomato, sprouts and low-fat vegan mayo made in-house. It also has a gluten-free grilled red pepper and tomato soup ($8.80 nett) which is available at various outlets on rotation.
Where: Outlets including 01-07 Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 3, 12 Marina Boulevard
Open: 7.30am to 8pm (Mondays to Fridays). Closed on weekends and public holidays
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