Friday, March 13, 2009
What do you think of naiveté? A "lack of experience, understanding or sophistication". That can be embarrassing to some. Yet others defend the sweet innocence and purity that so often comes with it. So, is it good? Is it bad? This same dichotomy ripped through me as I tried to decide if I liked this new joint. Hubby had a much simpler time - he was of only one single mind. Sorry I cannot print any of his words, unless I want to sound like this funny blogger.
Naïve is a vegetarian restaurant that's sprung up along East Coast Road, not too far from Aston's. Nice, pleasant vibe. Casually chic decor. Their aim is food that's simple, natural and good. It's so vegetarian, it's vegan - everything is plant-based. No meat, no seafood, no eggs. Gosh, that's not all. They don't even use garlic (*gasp*), onions or MSG! How do you make something flavourful with such criteria? Will they pass the taste test?
Well, we nearly didn't find out. We were a little taken aback that they have no baby chairs. Are kids not welcome? Hmm. Should we leave then? We decided to take a chance and stay. And be human harnesses for the little wriggly ones.
They do have this sweet little "blessing ceremony" called Bloss. It's Japanese-inspired - as you can tell from the suribachi and surikogi (mortar and pestle). You are given these along with black and white sesame seeds to grind. Each little seed is symbolic of the blessings we receive each day. You can scatter these over your food in positive appreciation of what you have been given in life.
Here's Nadine trying her hand at the "bloss" ceremony. She enjoyed it. I think the sesame seeds died a thousand deaths.
OK, let's get on with the food, which took a little while to arrive. First up, a wolfberry soup (S$3.80+) which to me was clear-tasting and well-balanced. Nothing too herbal or bitter. Take it in silent reverence and it might just cleanse your soul too. The kids liked it too. Hubby thought this was just OK.
I'd read raves about their Penang rendang (S$9.80+). What we got served, however, was a near disaster. Mushroom stalks stir-fried in some spicy mixture that's gotten too unwieldy in complexity (kinda like when you overmix paints to get the right colour, and it goes so wrong). It did not work at all. My tongue got angry with me for putting this on it. But at least the Chinese buns (what an odd pairing) were served warm. We used them for the soup instead.
This is their "Enchanted Forest" or monkey head mushrooms braised with wolfberry, "tang gui" and broccoli (S$12.80+). And you can see bits of "fa cai" (black hair-like moss). I was probably the only one at the table who enjoyed this (I don't mind the strong "tang gui"). Just as well. Because the portion is only fit for one! For the price, I'd have liked a bit more food and less fancy crockery (pretty as it was).
I didn't take to the tofu-based, plainly named "Curry" (S$8.80+) immediately, but was OK with it eventually. For hubby, this dish was the only saving grace. It was all right with white rice (not so with brown).
Tamarind crispy tofu cake (S$12.80+). Made from seaweed and tofu, these tasted like fishcakes. I am guessing from that and the price, that they are trying to imitate slices of fried fish. Maybe the mango version tastes better.
I think by now you will have noticed the teeny-tiny portions and fairly high prices. That's probably my biggest gripe about this place. When I eat meatless stuff, I want to be adequately filled. And I know good produce costs more, but I still can't bring myself to pay a lot for meatless stuff.
We opted for a bowl of brown rice (S$1.50) and white rice (S$1) each, since their olive rice (S$3.80) was not ready. They forgot to serve the rice until we requested it again. But at least the brown rice was nicely done. Just the right chewy texture.
Weekday lunch specials from S$9.80+. Still pricey, given that it's only one main (vegetable!) dish accompanied by soup and rice. There's an additional 10% service charge, but GST seems already worked into the prices.
So Naïve aims to serve simple, good and healthy food. I wish the prices were also simple. So that people can enjoy this "naturally good food" more often. After all, what is the point of eating healthy only once in a long while or only for special occasions?
I did like a couple of dishes but hubby says he'd rather have hawker vegetarian food any time instead. He could not wait to leave the place for more grub elsewhere. For now, even the slightest mention of monkey head mushrooms will send him into a raging fit. So much for my secret plans to buy some of it to cook at home.
99 East Coast Road (opposite Katong Mall)
Open daily 11.30am to 10pm
© CAMEMBERU | All rights reserved.