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  • Writer's pictureAround the World in Vegan Eats


Updated: Mar 31, 2023

We fell in love with Singapore very quickly when we visited in September 2022. It is such a clean, efficient, and friendly city, so futuristic and a real melting pot of different cultures. It was an incredible place to explore, with really easy transport links and no shortage of people willing to help if you need it!

A big part of Singaporean culture are their Hawker Centres (more on this in our Top Places to Eat Vegan in Singapore blog - coming soon!) where hundreds of different stalls pack into a warehouse style building with tonnes of chairs and tables. It's noisy and boisterous, but packed with so many sights and smells, and food options to choose from!

Most of the Hawker Centres we came across had at least one vegetarian stall, with fresh, homemade dishes, many of which were vegan (all the stall holders we met were very pleased to advise us on the precise ingredients of their recipes, and help us choose suitable options). Hawker Centres are also the place where you'll see Singapore's national dish in abundance - which, in its traditional form, (surprise surprise) is not suitable for vegans.

What is Chicken Rice, Singapore's national dish?

Chicken Rice is sometimes also known as Hainanese Chicken rice, as it was brought to Singapore by immigrants from the Hainan area of China. In its traditional form it consists of poached chicken, served with rice, cucumber, and a range of sauces. Sometimes you can find it served with roast chicken instead, or a combination of the two. As well as a chilli sauce, and another, more thin and savoury soy or sesame based sauce, the dish is served with a chicken broth, too. Generally you would buy it from street stalls and at market centres, and it is really commonly consumed by locals and tourists alike in Singapore.

Unfortunately for many of us, this does mean the frequent sight of chicken carcasses strung up from stalls very commonly around the city - if you're walking in an area that is populated with food stalls, or in a Hawker Centre, you will find this sight near impossible to avoid. All the more reason, in our opinion, to increase footfall to the few places in Singapore that offer plant-based chicken rice, to keep showing that there is a demand by locals and tourists alike.

Where did we find vegan chicken rice in Singapore?

We originally travelled to a vegetarian stall at a Hawker Centre, where we had heard that excellent plant-based chicken rice could be found. Unfortunately, upon arriving there, the stall was closed and there was no indication of if and when it would re-open. You can see our disappointment in our video, below.

So, tired and hungry, we had to go back to the drawing board on this one, since the place we'd planned to visit before we even left the UK was not going to work. A few days later, we found the answer. In a different location (but one that was much more easily accessible on public transport) we found Lotus Vegetarian. Lotus is housed in a peaceful, upmarket shopping and business centre, Royal Square Novena - a setting that felt like a very dramatic contrast to the Hawker Centres we had been eating at previously! So, it may not have been the traditional location to get chicken rice, but we were just pleased to be getting our hands on the dish we had been so excited about. Read on to see more of our journey, and check out the video below.

A restaurant with wooden tables, trees, and large glass windows
Lotus Vegetarian's beautiful decor and view made it a really special place to eat!

Was it everything we'd hoped for?

After the debacle of finding a vegan chicken rice, Lotus's Signature Veg Chicken Rice had a whole lot of expectations riding on it. Saying that though, we didn't really know what to expect; the idea of chicken and rice sounded pretty bland, maybe something of a dull combo if we were to make it in Britain. As we imagined the dish, it was hard to understand how this could become a national dish.

Stepping into Lotus Vegetarian, though, we knew we were in for something special. The restaurant felt very chic: from their location, to their decor, to the menu itself, the attention to detail was obvious. Each dish on the menu notes not only its ingredients (not all dishes are vegan, but everything is vegetarian) but it explains the nutritional benefits of each, helping you to understand beyond merely flavour exactly why the components have been selected.

A dome of rice surrounded by two types of vegan chicken, some greens, tomatoes, cucumber, chilli sauce and a savoury broth.
The Signature Veg Chicken Rice - just looking at this is making my mouth water!

Imagine our excitement when the dish was finally served to us. We were so pleased that we had not been defeated by the closed stalls - and delighted, in fact, that in missing out on the first plant-based chicken rice we'd sought out meant that we had found this one! The dish was presented exquisitely and smelled oh so good. We were really keen to dig in but had no idea where to start!

The vegan chicken rice was served, as is traditional, with cucumber, a chilli sauce and a savoury sauce, with a dome of light, seasoned rice in the centre. The bowl of savoury broth even had some beans in. Additional fresh and tasty sides included plum tomatoes and some pan-fried bok choi, but the piece de resistance was the plant-based chicken pieces. Lotus's dish came with two types of vegan chicken (this is sometimes customary with the traditional recipe dish too): a crispy 'chicken' and a more barbecue flavoured one. We really loved them both, and could have eaten the dish again and again; the imitation chicken was tender on the inside, with the crispy and barbecue coatings adding extra depth to the flavour.

A dome of rice and a spoon of chilli sauce in the foreground, surrounded by cucumber, tomatoes, bok choi and plant-based chicken pieces.
Honestly, this dish was so well presented!

What was clear on eating this dish was not only the care and attention that had been spent on making the dish tasty and visually appealing, but the very reasons that chicken rice became Singapore's national dish in the first place. The flavours complemented each other really well, providing a wholesome and vibrant meal experience. I wasn't so sure about the broth with beans, but the rest of the dish was just the stuff of my foodie dreams. The rice was hearty, while the vegetables and sauces provided extra punches of texture and flavour. Lotus's mock meat was honestly so good (and great to know it was good for my body too) - with their plant-based take on Chicken Rice, Lotus Vegetarian do the national dish so proud.

How much did it cost - and was it worth it?

Now, eating at a restaurant in Singapore always costs a lot more than eating at a Hawker Centre or street food stall. But wow, it was so worth it. If we had spent longer in the city we would definitely have come back to Lotus Vegetarian; if their chicken rice is anything to go by, then we'd be really excited to try their other vegan dishes.

Each Signature Veg Chicken Rice cost S$11.65 once taxes were included.

(approximately £7.20, €8.15, $8.75).

You can find Lotus Vegetarian at 103 Irrawaddy Rd, #02-07 Royal Square@Novena, Singapore 329566. They are open every day of the week from 11:30am until 9:30pm (but are closed for a short time before the 5:30pm evening service).

Have you had any great (or not so great!) vegan chicken rice in Singapore? Or elsewhere in the world! Where did you go and what would you recommend? Let us know in the comments below.


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The centre of Vienna with tall, historic buildings all around
Singapore has such a stunning skyline!

Where should I stay?

For a really conveniently located, modern hostel with single and double pods, self-check in, linens, and orthopaedic mattresses, Dream Lodge gets excellent reviews!

Tours & Experiences

We love long walks around cities but we know this doesn't work for everyone - sometimes you might just not have the time! If you want to see all the highlights of Singapore in a really convenient way, why not try this hop-on hop-off bus tour, where your ticket is valid for 24 hours? Or if that's not quite for you, why not try one of the top-rated Viator tours below?


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