will start out by saying that the west have got it all wrong when it comes to vegetarian food. The reason why Impossible or Beyond meats are doing well is because the west, and increasingly the rest of the world, have this notion that for vegetarian food to be good, it has to look and taste like meat. However, vegetarian food is essentially food that non-vegetarians eat. When you visit an economical rice stall and you order a serving of rice with two servings of vegetables and one serving of tofu, you have just ordered a dish that vegetarians would typically order. You do not think about it but vegetarian and vegan food is still food. Just without the meat options placed within the dish. Therefore it is not always about using vegetables to create meat substitutes, it is about having more of one type of food on your plate and eliminating that serving or servings of meat.
So then imagine my consternation when someone told me that I had to try Habitat at Fortune Centre because it serves up the best Japanese Vegetarian Cuisine. It uses vegetables to recreate mock salmon, unagi, chicken and dory fish. I was sceptical. I was previously a meat eater for about 38 years of my life and only in the last 3 to 4 years did I become a vegetarian. Hence, I know what a good bowl of unary don, teriyaki chicken or fired fish tastes like.
Herbivore is located on the ground level of Fortune Centre. It is located right in front of the escalator leading up to the second level. You cannot miss it. Although its signboard is not the most obvious thing in the world.
You get a seat and order through an ordering system that is on an iPad that is attached to the table.
It is a nice touch that they indicated which are vegan options and which are not. For those who are not familiar with the difference, vegans do not consume any animal products. Hence dishes with dairy and eggs are not vegan. However, vegetarians do, in general, consume some animal products like milk and eggs. I belong to the latter group which gave me a wider variety of options at Herbivore.
The food takes about 10 to 15 minutes to arrive on a moderately busy lunch or dinner timing. Whatever the wait, trust me, it is worth it. I am not saying this purely to vegetarians but to everyone. Vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. The food is very good. If it is possible that a unagi roll can taste better than the real McCoy, then this is it!
It looks, smells and tastes like unagi. There can be no higher praise and I am sure if you bring someone who has unagi, there is a high chance he may not be aware that he is eating seaweed and soy. This is something you must order.
You can also opt for the bento set which comes with tofu, vegetables, mashed potatoes, salad, miso soup and a dessert.
The chicken bento set comes with gyoza. Chicken did not taste exactly like chicken and this is one dish where you could tell that it was an imitation. The teriyaki sauce was mildly sweet and not overpowering. This was good but not great like the unagi dishes.
The fried fish did taste like real dory fish though. The tartar sauce was light and sweet. The flavour profile for Herbivore’s dishes are not too heavy which in my opinion is ideal.
As for the spicy ramen, you can tell that the pork is not real pork but made of tofu. However, the broth is rich and the noodles were cooked just right where there they were still slightly springy with a light crunch. This is something that I would order on my return visits (which I did).
Side note: Handrolls are “meh”… passable. Don’t need to order.
Overall, one of the best places to have Japanese food. Notice that I omitted the word “vegetarian”.
190 Middle Rd, #01-13/14 Fortune Centre, Singapore 188979
11:30 am to 2:30 pm, 5 to 9 pm (Daily)