Vegetarian dim sum! Singapore has a great abundance and diversity when it comes to vegetarian food. But one aspect of Chinese cooking that is noticeably lacking is dim sum. Yes, I am aware that places like Ling Zhi are offering dim sum, but frankly I found the quality to be nothing short of awful. So it is easy to see that Singapore is desperately crying out for a good vegetarian dim sum place – Xin Man Yuan may be the answer to those cries. This traditional style vegetarian eatery opened its doors recently in Chinatown. Don’t be confused, this place is located at People’s Park Centre, not People’s Park Complex.
Miao Yi Vegetarian Restaurant
Location: #03-32, 101 Upper Cross St, People’s Park Centre
Opening Hours: Daily 11.00am-10.00pm
Update – Take note that Xin Man Yuan and Miao Yi are/were under the same owner. Subsequently, Miao Yi shifted from their old location and merged together with Xin Man Yuan at the above location. This eatery now goes by the name Miao Yi.
There are two options at Xin Man Yuan, you can either opt for the buffet spread, which costs $18.80++. Or you can order from the a la carte menu. Here is a look at the buffet spread.
If you’re ordering the buffet spread, you can order dim sum, but only a limited amount. Pictured left are the types you can order.
Here is a look at the full dim sum menu. There is an incredibly impressive array of selections, most priced at $4.50.
The a la carte menu is quite extensive, but has the typical array of Chinese dishes. Many of the dishes are quite mock meat heavy.
I won’t deny that the main reason for my excitement to visit Xin Man Yuan was to try the dim sum. My first selection was the Delicious Chestnuts Siew Mai. Immediately upon sampling this dim sum, it was clear to me that it was miles ahead of any other dim sum I have tried in Singapore. I have also had the pleasure of trying the supposed best vegetarian dim sum in Hong Kong (Three Virtues), and I would say this is even better. The skin was soft and delicate, and the mixed mushroom filling was splendid. Yes, I am sure for non-vegetarians this dish will be missing the taste of smell of pork, but for vegetarian siew mai, this is as good as you will find.
Price: $4.50. 8/10
The next dim sum I picked out was Steamed Veg. Shrimp Dumplings. This can also otherwise be known as ‘har gow’ or more accurately put in Chinese ‘xia jiao’ 虾饺. This is another synonymous dim sum in Hong Kong, which is a prerequisite ‘must order’ item. This dish is basically a steamed Chinese dumpling with a prawn filling. I loved the fresh taste and distinguishable prawn flavour of this dim sum, and I really had to restrain myself from ordering another 10 portions.
Price: $4.50. 9/10
In my aim to give a professional review of this place, I thought it would only be right if I ordered some items from the a la carte menu. Overall the dishes I ordered from the menu were really underwhelming when compared with the dim sum. Starting with the Special Indonesian Curry – ‘Special’ is certainly one word I wouldn’t use to describe this dish. To the contrary, the flavour of this curry was incredibly bland and flat. It was almost as if the chef added oil, chilli, turmeric and coconut milk, and then forget to add anything else. I also found the mock meat used in this curry to be particularly unpleasant.
Price: $10.00. 5/10
Another dish from the menu which fell a little flat with me was the Jin Du Special Ribs. I’ve order many mock rib dishes in the past – When I saw this item of the menu it reminded me of the good old days when I would visit Loke Woh Yuen for their amazing mock ribs. This dish was a far cry from those glory days. The sweet and sour sauce was really forgettable. The chef really needs to take lessons in making Cantonese style sauces to really improve this dish. The mock meat used for the ‘ribs’ was quite interesting. It comprised of tube-shaped beancurd. Interesting choice, but didn’t resemble ribs in the slightest.
Price: $10.00. 5/10
Food – 7/10
Service – 7/10
Value – 6/10