Singapore Vegetarian Food – My Experience As A Backpacker

In this post I will talk about how I enjoyed backpacking Singapore as a Vegetarian. It will focus on what food I ate and where I found it. Its a country well known for its culinary delights and I have had some great meals there. There is a real foodie culture in Singapore and there are fantastic options for eating out all over the city. I was pleased that I was able to find loads of tasty vegetarian food and enjoy the diversity of it.

If your a vegetarian or vegan I hope this post helps you out if your planning to visit the city. Its not a guide as such, rather it’s about my own experiences and highlighting what food I ate. I’ve visited the city twice and had a good variety of dishes. Its somewhere I loved exploring and hopefully I’ll be able to visit again.

Singapore is a very multicultural country and this has helped to foster its great reputation for food. The largest ethnic group here are the Chinese. Food in that community is often influenced by the region of China their ancestors migrated from. 2 of the other prominent ethnic groups are the Malay and Indians, who also have their own food styles. The Indian community is particular is comprised of many descendants of immigrants from South India. As a result there is often a very Tamil flavour to their food. There are also other groups such as Eurasians, meaning you can find places doing fusions of Asian and European dishes too. And is plenty of other Asian and International foods around in the country as well.


Little India

This was my favourite part of the city for eating, and I came back several times. Its where you can find a whole host of Indian restaurants including several that are 100% vegetarian. These are sometimes known as ‘pure veg’ restaurants. Whilst not all, many of Singapore’s Hindu population follow a vegetarian diet. Even those that eat meat may have ‘fasting days’ where they eat vegetarian. As such the vegetarian diet is well catered for here in Little India. Therefore its a fantastic as place to try some Singapore vegetarian food.

My 2 favourite restaurants I visited here are Komala Vilas and Ananda Bhavan. Head along Serangoon Road to locate them. You can find them both near to the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple. Both have a well established reputation here. Ananda Bhavan has been operating in Singapore since 1924 and Komala Vilas since 1947.

A photo the outside of Komala Vilas on Serangoon Road in Singapore. A yellow sign stretcher along above the restaurants identifying it in English and Tamil.
Komala Vilas on Serangoon Road

I enjoyed trying their set meal options, particularly the rice meals and a Dosai meal. If you open their websites though the links you can view their menu’s to see what the offer. Another place I tried which was good was Komala’s Resturants. It also has a branch on Serangoon Road, though it’s further down towards the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple.

An example of Singapore Vegetarian Food - a rice meal at Komala Vilas on Serangoon Road. Including several curry and dips in pots as well as poppadoms
A rice meal at Komala Vilas on Serangoon Road
A Dosai meal at Komala Vilas on Serangoon Road. Including a Dosa, poppadom, several curry and dips pots and a bhaji.
A Dosai meal at Komala Vilas on Serangoon Road
A Singapore Vegetarian Thali style meal. Including roce, bread and several curry and dip pots
A Thali meal at Ananda Bhavan

China Town

Looking around China Town there are a lot of restaurants aimed at tourists. These generally seemed have vegetarian options but I was more interested in finding 100% vegetarian places. Across Southeast Asia the Chinese Buddhist community often has dedicated vegetarian restaurants that serve great ‘mock meat’ dishes. These are where they take traditional Chinese meals and replace the meat/fish with tofu or soy or other vegetarian protein. A great place in Singapore’s Chinatown that does this is Yi Xin Vegetarian. They have a fantastic range of meals available and it’s all good food. It seemed liked the best option to me when I was in China Town.


Hawker Centres

I actually found it quite hard to find vegetarian food in Hawker Centres. These are Singapore’s famous food centre’s which house many stalls. I’d looked online and found that the Hawker Centres with the best dedicated vegetarian stands were actually pretty far from where I was staying. A lot of what I saw wasn’t vegetarian at all with no options. For instance when I checked the Lavender Hawker Centre I found nothing vegetarian whatsoever. So I ended up not trying much at all in the Hawker Centres. I did have some kind of vegetarian bean curd dish though which was good.

The Whampoa Soya Bean Stall. Table with people eating in the foreground.
The Whampoa Soya Bean Stall

Shopping Malls (inc Food Courts)

As well as a range of restaurants, the shopping malls in Singapore tend to have a food court. I’ve made the distinction between these and Hawker Centres because they are food courts within a mall, rather than just being a food centre. One place I visited several times is the ‘Food Junction‘ inside the Bujis Junction Shopping Mall. Amongst its many food stands is a vegetarian one serving Singaporean dishes made in a vegetarian style. Its stall 15 and named ‘Truly Vegetarian 非素不可’. I think its a great place to try out different Singapore Vegetarian Food and I sampled a few dishes.

In terms of the restaurants in the malls across Singapore, you can find vegetarian food but it is limited. I found I had to explore for awhile before I found restaurants offering good options. For instance even in the huge mall at Marina Sands felt like vegetarian food was scarce. With the exception of pizza and pasta. Which to be fair I do love, I just wanted to sample more vegetarian Asian food. Its why I generally found myself going back to Little India and the Truly Vegetarian 非素不可 stall, as they offered better value and better taste.

Saying that, I did try out a pasta curry fusion dish at Pastamania in the Bujis Junction. And i’m glad I did as it was very tasty. I also tried a salad meal in the Paragaon shopping mall on Orchard Road. Which was ok, but not as good as the food I found elsewhere. It had a lot of beans and fresh vegetables in it, so was pretty healthy.

The Truly Vegetarian 非素不可  stall. It has several pictures of food that can be ordered.
Truly Vegetarian 非素不可

Out and about

I found options limited when looking around the city. Whilst I loved all the Singapore vegetarian food I found in the places above, it felt like I really needed to plan my meal times. It wasn’t easy just to grab something whilst walking around, I often had to actually use google to hunt places out.

I definitely advise that if you visit the fantastic Asian Civilisations Museum whilst in Singapore to eat in their restaurant. It has some good vegetarian options. I had a great vegetarian Thai curry whilst I was there. It was definitely worth grabbing lunch after spending the morning exploring the museum.

Vegetarian Green Thai Green Curry is one bowl, rice in the other.
Vegetarian Green Thai Green Curry

Summary

So to summarise, I loved the vegetarian food I had in Singapore. But it also took some effort to locate the good places to go. In hindsight it would have nice to visit some proper vegetarian Hawker Stands. But practically when your exploring all day it’s hard to add another hours travel (or more) just to get to a Hawker Centre. Consequently I returned to Little India several times, as it’s close to the centre. It was definitely the best place to go to find places by looking around. Everywhere else took either took some proper exploration or internet research to find. What I did sample was generally of a high quality and definitely recommended.

Therefore I definitely advise any vegetarians or vegans visiting Singapore to do some research before you go. There are plenty of shops you can snacks to eat at wherever your staying. But for main meals you should know where to head and how to get there. Or just hop on the MRT and travel to Little India! I think if you know where to go, Singapore can be one of the best places to try vegetarian food in Southeast Asia.

This brings the report of my Singapore vegetarian experience to an end. Thanks for reading! I hope you get a chance to visit the country, it’s a fantastic place to explore.

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2 Comments

  • Wee CL

    Hi. Great to know 2 – 3 places I haven’t tried, for next time then. Well, actually there are a lot vegetarian and vegan stalls in Spore. I used to often visited the country just for short leisure & hunt vegetarian food there. I’ve tried to brush around every corner just to find new vege stalls. The easiest is to visit hawker stalls & local market inside & outside MRT station : Aljuneid, Tiong Bahru, Geylang Sereh, Bukit Batok, China Town , (inside a mall building opposite Buddha Tooth temple) , Bugis (beside SEA hotel / Kwan Yin temple), Little India (of course), etc. You can also find at Food Court in Vivo City Mall, Suntec Mall (try vegetarian Subway)

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