Why did I choose Zen Japanese Vegetarian Restaurant for my second review? I have done my homework and according to my research, it is the first Japanese-style vegetarian restaurant concept in Singapore; therefore, it’s not to be missed!

Also, they claim to offer vegan food without garlic, onion, MSG, egg and other dairy products. Then I became much intrigued: if this is so, what would be the difference in taste between non-vegetarian Japanese food and this one? I have to find out.

Address: 122 Middle Road Midlink Plaza #02-02, Singapore, 188973 (This will be relocated in May. According to the waitress, new address is not yet confirmed.)

Contact Number: 68831586

Opening Hours: 11:30am-3pm & 5:30pm-10pm daily

Nearest MRT: Bugis

How to Go: The nearest landmark is the National Library. Walk opposite that and further down.

Food I Ordered: Unagi Don Set

Pictures:

The Experience:

Ambiance: ★★★★

Zen Japanese Vegetarian Restaurant has an amazingly serene atmosphere, designed with a zen feel where seating arrangements (boxed) are positioned quite widely apart illustrating form and function. The place was free of clutter, answering the quest for tranquility and balance.

Think minimalism combined with modernistic beauty. It suddenly bought me back a flood of fond Restaurant City (Playfish game) memories because its interior is similar to mine (in the game). Haha.

The place was quiet, with only three of us tables active probably because it was a week day today and I had my brunch at 1:30pm. I heard it’s usually so jam-packed with diners in office hours and weekends that you should call to make a reservation or else you won’t get a chance to have seats right away.

Service: ★★★  

I bowed like a Japanese as I pushed the door from the entrance. The attendant must have thought that I was Japanese and smiled. She gave me the liberty to choose my spot. I sat in the middle cubicle of the restaurant and she handed me the menu together with some tissue paper and chopsticks.

When I was ready to order, I raised my hand as usual to call out the waiters. However, although all of them were idle, there was not even one wait staff in sight who was looking out for customers’ calls. I took the initiative to walk forward to the cashier and ordered food there.

I did the same thing when I billed out because they were all facing either the kitchen, the counter, the door outside or talking with each other. Food was served in less than 10 minutes.

Food: ★★★★★

The unagi don set is one of the most favorite dishes in the menu, as suggested by the online community. Definitely, it’s a must-try. It came with the following: four pieces of unagi (eel) that is actually made of tofu (note: not mock meat) grilled with seaweed and nice sweet Teriyaki sauce, traditional sticky Japanese rice, a small bowl of organic miso soup, garden lettuce salad with cherry tomatoes topped with sesame/peanut dressing, pickles and seaweeds, mixed steam vegetables (medley of radish, pumpkin and ladyfinger) and peach pudding.

I thought as a whole, the presentation of the set looked very upmarket, creative and luxurious! The taste matched the elegant execution of the dishes. It was beyond divine. (Even non-vegetarians would love it.) I savored everything in one hour. Burp.

Price for Value: ★★★

The original price of the set was S$16 and there was a 10-percent service fee. It was like a hundred times more than my usual budget for a meal. However, I thought it’s worth the price for the food comprised not of boring vegetarian products made from gluten but of real vegetables. It’s one of the very best vegetarian meals I’ve ever had. Certainly, it deserves a two-thumbs up!

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Digital marketing strategist. Health and technology freak. Food and lifestyle blogger with a large appetite for food and travel.

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15 Responses

  1. Sumi Go

    This is really interesting! I’ve never been to a Japanese vegetarian restaurant before, and this looks promising. When I visit Singapore (which is prolly by the end of the year), I’ll make sure to try Zen 🙂

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Being a vegetarian is not really difficult nowadays because there are many restaurants which offer vegetarian-friendly food. But finding restaurants like Zen would require some effort to get to know as there’s not much promotion and marketing involved to hype their food and unique offerings.

      You won’t regret having a meal there as their dishes are all high quality, beautifully presented and healthy.

      Reply
  2. Aldous

    Wow, I will try this restaurant when I come back to Singapore (hopefully soon). The concept of a Jap vegan restaurant really interests me.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Japanese food for vegetarians surely is interesting especially for us who don’t frequently see them here. Apart from that, Zen Buddhists have the shojin ryori to boast about which is made popular in the U.S. in Chinese Buddhist restaurants. But one reason why it’s not popularized is that Americans don’t know Japanese cuisine well and Japanese restaurants in the U.S. don’t know vegetarianism well.

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yes, if you want to try vegetarian food, this one can be your first and I assure you that you will get to enjoy delicious, healthy, creative, Japanese meals – all vegan.

      Reply
  3. Garf

    This looks really delicious. I have never been to a Japanese restaurant yet neither can visit anytime soon because I don’t know of a Japanese restaurant nearby.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      This is maybe because Japanese vegetarian restaurants in the Philippines are scarce. In addition, although Japanese cuisine is healthful, delicious, and beautiful, it seems to be not so popular for vegetarians/vegans.

      Reply
  4. Ness

    Am not really into veggies, but hmm, i think this place is worth a try. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    Reply
  5. Tess

    They don’t care about the costumer once they served the food. The food maybe good but their attitude of not paying attention is not good or maybe that is just how they work in Japan.

    Reply

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