Original Sin Restaurant
In fairness to all the denizens of our community, I felt duty-bound to bring my "Grazing" series closer to its bovine meaning and tried out this popular vegetarian eatery in Singapore.
There are few vegetarian Mediterranean restaurants in Singapore (errr...actually one) and this one has garnered good ratings. Located in Holland Village, an expatriate ghetto just West of the main drag (Orchard Road), the place was packed even on a Tuesday night. The clientele was actually a mixture of expats, locals and tourists. Sitting areas are air-conditioned inside or al fresco. Finding parking space is a near miracle in itself, so I advise going by taxi; 7 minutes drive from the main drag.
Original Sin; in Jewish, Christian and Muslim theology, the condition of sin that marks all humans as a result of Adam's first act of disobedience.
“Enthralled By sin to foul, exorbitant desires.” - Milton.
The establishment has a disproportionately LARGE selection of wine to satisfy its clientele. Staying with the Mediterranean theme and in appreciation of Spain’s support in Iraq 2003, I chose this young Rioja Alta (1997).
Muga is a small family firm recommended by our waiter for its reds. It was light enough for vegetarian cuisine yet aromatic with a long finish, which changed with each dish. The grape combination is 70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha and 10% made up with Mazuelo and/or Graciano. The wine is aged for at least 24 months with racking every 4 months and final fining with fresh egg white.
Appetizer: Mixed Meze platter (mezedes).
From 12 o’clock: Pita bread wedges, olives, dolmades, feta cheese, Koresh (pumpkin mash with onion, raisins and pine nuts), Baba Ganoush (mashed charred eggplant, tahini, lemon juice and garlic), Tzatziki (cucumber yoghurt), Falafel (chickpea fritters with coriander and cumin) and Hummus (mashed chickpeas, tahini, oil, lemon juice, and garlic).
This was a very competent rendition of classic Mediterranean appetizers. The Baba Ganoush was as well done it should be without reaching burnt bitterness. The evocative smokiness of the charred eggplant tingled four of my five senses (hearing excepted). Like Mom's apple pie, everyone “knows” a better version from somewhere else, but I was more than satisfied with this incarnation.
It was like being back in Kriti again, with balmy southerly breeze from North Africa gently rocking the fishing boats in the harbour as blazing Sol settled into the Aegean Sea. Men and dogs daring to stir as the heat of the afternoon cooled with the setting of the Sun. Charcoal fires freshly lit sending aromas of souvlaki and bifteki into the evening sky. In the hills, distant bells peal from the whitewashed stone monastery. Kali oreksi !
Diner #1 entrée: Gran Moussaka with charred eggplant, tomatoes, lentils and béchamel sauce. This is one of the house specials and popular with the masses. I felt it needed a little more béchamel sauce for perfection.
Diner #2 entrée: Bosco Misto (mixed forest) spinach, feta and tofu patties with mushroom ragout and plum sauce. Do not snigger at the "tofu patty" concept; this was really yummy whatever the colour of your Jesus sandals. The balsamic vinegar, asparagus and rocket (arugula) added astringent flavours as well as visual impact to the creamy-inside, crispy-outside patties.
The Final Sin: Dark Cherry Truffle; chocolate mousse studded with poached cherries. I do not usually make it to a dessert course but having been so healthy thus far, I succumbed to the seductive voice of Temptation...
Original Sin provides flexibility to accommodate vegetarian guests dining in Singapore, apart from the usual Chinese and Indian vegetarian fare.
We hear that the ‘Magic Mushroom’ starter, ‘Vegetable Risotto’ entrée and ‘Lemon Tart’ dessert are the People’s Favourites. There is also a selection of pizza and pasta to satisfy the carbohydrate junkies.
Original Sin deserves good reviews for both food and the huge selection of wines. It certainly surprised the carnivores in my party who agreed to return to try other house specials. I will search out the Truth and report on the People’s Favourites some day...
Photo and Text copyright Melvyn Teillol-Foo, 2003.