Friday, March 13, 2009


Branded into all the furniture...
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.

Simple decor that tries to be clean and chic
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?

This is what happens when you don't provide baby chairs
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.

Mortar and pestle for the Japanese-inspired "bloss" ceremony
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.

Nadine trying her hand at the "bloss" ceremony
Here's Nadine trying her hand at the "bloss" ceremony. She enjoyed it. I think the sesame seeds died a thousand deaths.

Wolfberry soup S$3.80
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.

Penang rendang S$9.80
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.

Enchanted Forest - monkey head mushrooms braised with wolfberry, tang gui and broccoli S$12.80
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). 

Curry S$8.80
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
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.

Bowl of brown rice
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
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)
Singapore 428795
Tel: 6348-0668
Open daily 11.30am to 10pm


  1. Adoi! So mahal and so little to makan? I can't help but agree with your hubby, but then I have a bottomless pit for a stomach. :P

  2. hahaha i tried the food there last week, agree with you on the pricing and rather small portions. But it is an interesting concept to promote healthy dining, hopefully they can fine-tune the portions

  3. Yeah, it really does seem very pricey for the teeny portions you got!
    I guess it wasn't very filling?

  4. LFB: Yeah Kenny, convert the prices to RM and it's doubly worse!

    LIC: It is an interesting concept but looks like healthy dining means diet-sized portions too.

    Wei: You're right - it's not very filling, unless you order a lot. We immediately went across the road to buy meat and sausages.

  5. Haha! Funny that I went there last week, had the same dishes, and came to the same conclusion. At the end of the day, unless you are a vegetarian and you are deprived from choice in your diet, why bother paying 8 times as much for something that only tries to get close to the real thing? The portions were tiny. After spending $50 for 2 people, we were so hungry and unsatisfied, we couldn't bother ordering any more of it and went for half a "soy sauce chicken" at Hiang Ji - next door. That was value for money, and proper satisfaction :)

  6. "even the slightest mention of monkey head mushrooms will send him into a raging fit" - ROTFLOL!!!!

    My hubby's vegetarian, and I can tell you the best place to get a 1) healthy, 2) non-meat, 3) inexpensive and 4) FILLING meal, is from your own kitchen!

  7. oh no! fresh monkeyheads braised with prok softbone and daikon is to die for....

    Look out for the fresh ones at the supermarkets. Sometimes you can get the Mycofarms ones. Fresh is best when it comes to monkeyheads... hahaha sounds damn wrong!

  8. Ju: LOL! I say, you are so right - my hubby will agree with your hubby too! Own kitchen still best!

    Southernoise: fresh monkeyheads? I have two monkeys at home, but is the wrong kind! lol

  9. Hey there, can u do a food review on the 'shami banana leaf delight' located at northpoint basement 2 foodcourt.
    I heard pretty good comments about it.
    They seem to serve pretty generous portion just for 6bucks.(referring to chicken briyani)


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