Friday, April 27, 2012

CBD trail: Salads meant for carnivores

Having worked both in Tanjong Pagar and Raffles Place, it used to baffle me why there are more salad shops further down the line. In TP, salad shops are growing though not substantially ubiquitous as RP. Yet in RP, it is even more common than Mcdonalds. Every 100 meters renders you one. The irony or not is, their names are almost similar too. Confusion begets success? The grazing starteths!

I never knew how much we Singaporeans loved our greens until I had to queue (damn long) for my salads. 

thesaladshop

TheSaladShop - Salad for everybody
UOB Plaza

A friend highly recommended TSS to me and another lamented that it was usually  crowded. I guess the christmas break reduced the crowds quite substantially yet business was still brisk. I must have entered the shop looking like a lost sheep, the comical counter staff pointed at the pen and menu at a corner for me to fill up.

Queues are insanely long for this but thankfully they cleared rather quickly. One of those salad bars whose popularity is alarming. Until the last minute of lunch hour way past 1pm, queues were still snaking.

tick away!

Rabbit, Zebra or Elephant, choose your size of salads which could be an indication of the proportion of feeds per animal. Zebra sized got me 6 main feeds and 2 supplementary feeds at a princely $10 buckeroos. Shenton Way standard I consider that average. Choices to be made are far too many - Choose your salad base, main feeds, supplementary feeds, prime feeds and dressing.

tag

Get a number for eating in or taking away.

greens

Broccoli, Mushroom, Roasted Pumpkin, Three Bean Mix, Tortilla Chips, Feta Cheese, Grilled Zucchini, Bacon Bits with Avocado dressing

Hearty portion of salad and the combination was really delicious. Did I feel like a zebra? Not quite until towards the end when it got a tad too much. Methinks the next size up to elephant may be easier on carnivores since there is a plethora of meat choices to choose from - crayfish sounds great already!

cute

Cute takeaway packaging!

The second visit had me choosing Zebra once again with a base of baby spinach.

salad stop3

Broccoli, Mushroom, Red Radish, Sweet Corn, Three-Bean Mix, Tortilla Chips, Avocado, Bacon Bits with Honey Mustard dressing

This time round, the salad turned out sweeter possibly without cheese. Baby spinach as a base turned out better than the regular mixed lettuce. The combination of beans and bacon made this taste of bak kwa, oddly! I'm sticking with cheese dressing or feta cheese to balance the sweet next time!

salad stop2

Beetroot, Mushroom, Three-Bean Mix, Tortilla Chips, Feta Cheese, Pickled Seaweed, Cashew Nut, Poached Chicken with Avocado dressing

Oddly, alot blander than expected. It could be the poached chicken in avocado dressing combination, the natural flavours shone through and I would prefer my protein flavoured somehow. Poached chicken was a tad too strong smelling. Still trying to nail the perfect salad combination here but one thing's for sure, I am loving my spinach leaves base!

umpteenth


Carrot, Roasted Pumpkin, Sweet Corn, Three-Bean Mix, Tortilla Chips, Bacon Bits, Swiss Cheese with Blue Cheese dressing

This combination with blue cheese dressing was outstanding because of the smell. I am a cheese fan, right down to eating blue cheese but the first waft was quite a stench! Nonetheless, a delicious mix. I have more or less firmed up the consistencies - Baby spinach base, three bean mix and tortilla chips are a must!


salad stop xth

Carrot, Roasted Eggplant, Three-Bean Mix, Tortilla Chips, Bacon Bits, Feta Cheese, Crabmeat with Pesto Vinaigrette dressing

I finally attempted an elephant's portion and at $12, it has to be one of the heftiest priced salads to-go around! Crabmeat was thankfully sweet and fresh, chunks of it too! Pesto Vinaigrette was appetizing too. I wonder how many calories I ended up clocking for this hearty garden of greens though.

salad stop

Seconds of these followed soon after with not many changes to the combinations, I figure I pretty much nailed it with concoction of my favourite mix from Salad Shop! Better be so especially after forking out 12 buckeroos!

prawns

Alfafa Sprouts, Carrot, Mushroom, Three-Bean Mix, Tortilla Chips, Tomato, Roasted Pepper, Bacon Bits, Prawns with Pesto Vinaigrette

This combination was alot "greener" in taste, possibly due to the alfafa sprouts and lack of cheese. Not too much a fan of their crystal prawns, bland though not fishy. I would have preferred if they were soaked in brine. The pesto vinaigrette failed to lift this salad much.

crayfish

Cucumber, Mushroom, Three-Bean Mix, Tortilla Chips, Tomato, Feta Cheese, Grilled Eggplant, Quinoa, Crayfish with Pesto Vinaigrette

With "Quinoa" being one of the latest supplementary feeds, I caved into curiosity. Usually not a grains in my salad person, I was takenaback when showed a sample. Like barley grains, only much tinier...probably like sago beads. These were like rice, almost. These supposedly have a nutty taste to it. Nonetheless, thought this combination was hearty though a tad too oily. One of the few times the mixer was too liberal with the dressing. Once again, disappointed with the prime feed of crayfish. Bland as can be, a slight blanch in brine would have been ideal! Mental note: Head for the marinated feeds next time.

parma ham

Carrot, Mushroom, Three-Bean Mix, Tortilla Chips, Tomato, Feta Cheese, Grilled Eggplant, Bacon Bits, Parma Ham with White Wine Vinaigrette

I have completely lost count of the number of $12 salads I have consumed at TheSaladShop and the visits do not look like they are stopping any moment. I tweaked the combination quite abit this time round and opted for a saltier feed of parma ham. Their parma ham is sliced too thick which results in nonstop chewing until the jaws tire. White Wine Vinaigrette is easy to love as well – loved the tangy flavours and best part, how hearty this salad felt.

bread

Complimentary sliced bread is available to go with salads and soups. I thought it lacked bite and was a little dry.

salad shop

Baby Spinach, Carrot, Mushroom, Roasted Pumpkin, Sweet Corn, Three=Bean Mix, Tortilla Chips, Grilled Egg Plant, Bacon Bits, Smoked Salmon with Red Wine Vinaigrette

Red Wine Vinaigrette does have a more robust taste than white wine, more depth infact. I’ve found my perfect dressing – vinaigrette with salad. Gives the salad a tangier kick and seems not as guilty as honey mustard or ranch dressing at least! Yet another wonderful one by Salad Shop. By now, I truly get what makes a good salad shop – by discerning the lousier ones. Indeed, there is a reason why Salad Shop could be priced premium yet be filled with throngs of likeminded folks everyday.

Juiced  Rawbar
Republic Plaza

salad 

Yet another recommended by a friend, this usually has an insane queue to match. Being fickle in a salad queue does not work at all - stress mounts so the menu is catered for the fickle pickles. Either head straight to the regular caesar salads or ultimate detox fixes. I chose to design my own - 6 types of vegetables and topped up with a side of feta cheese. All for a neat $10.50. Oh yes, dressings come in a mindboggling range - headed for the seemingly friendly "honey soya". It ended up on the sweet side, thank goodness for feta cheese to balance the taste!

minestrone

Their soups are deemed more "natural" by the Juiced Rawbar fan. I thought their vegetable soup was much like minestrone.

juiced rawbar

Mushrooms, al fafa, pumpkin, beans, carrot, corn and teriyaki chicken with red wine vinaigrette

The combination was dry somehow and a tad sour from the vinaigrette. The acidic punch needed getting used to. Not the bestest salad - at least the chicken did not reek like Salad Shop's poached chicken. Should have gone for the creamy sauces for a smoother and more palatable finish.


market st complex

The Salad Corner
Market Street Food Center #03-33

By word of mouth, I made my way to Market Street Food Center, otherwise known as Golden Shoe for the famed salad. Famous for its price I should say, starting from $4.90, this is quite a steal. Queues for this are long, so long that I can probably post 30 tweets and still have to wait. Yet when I got my order and peered behind to the equally long queue that it started with - yes I smirked.

diy salad

For $4.90 there is a base salad with 5 toppings of choice, meats come at an additional $1. Reasonably priced and well proportioned, it does give the other bars a run for their money. Main setback - no seats and housed in a hawker center, ventilation is not at its bestest. I topped up with poached chicken on a colourful base of corn, kidney beans, mushrooms, peppers and tofu. Dressing choices are one too many - headed for a friendly honey mustard. Tantalizing stuff! I tucked into my salad and polished it off soon enough. Like all salads, very hearty and this dressing worked for me.

Very willing to brave the queues for this.

seconds

The second visit took a lot longer than expected but I was lucky to avoid the massive crowds after 1pm. That also meant that the popular ingredients were also sold out. I stuck with honey mustard together with chicken ham, beans, mushrooms, corn, carrot and celery. Still as delish though poached chicken fared tons better.

smoked chicken salad

Carrot, Kidney Bean, Red Cabbage, Mushroom, Tofu, BBQ Chicken, Italian Vinaigrette

The Italian Vinaigrette made this sour in an unpleasant way towards the end and the BBQ chicken was over laden with MSG – not a fan of this. Otherwise, a cheap salad in CBD! Personal favourite for meat goes to poached chicken.


The Green Bar
Chevron House

Possibly the only salad place that has an advertising pillar of its own, The Green Bar is by no means green in decor. Quaint and cosy is what this is - though not very conducive for leisurely lunches unless lunch hour is way past 130pm. Takeaway and eating queues are as long.

special chairs

The two interesting chairs in the bar!

lights

Lights so pretty.

green bar

Number tag.

green bar smoked duck

My order of Smoked Duck Surprise ($11.90) was their signature and it was misheard as take away, hence the less than beautiful plating. Their salad bowls are apparently customised and there is a corner in the shop that has two really cute chairs!

Rosemary potatoes, pumpkin and onions are the only other greens apart from leafy greens and topped with slices of smoked duck. Surprised? Barely. The vinagrette was decent though nothing too wow-inducing. Lacking greatly in the variety of greens, by salad standards this was passable but not in Raffles Place where every other salad shop seems to be trying to outdo in terms of vegetable content and variety. The smoked duck tasted much like ham.

Sumo Salad
Asia Tower

I spotted this outlet once at Raffles City Basement and wondered if anyone would really takeaway their salads - trays of greens and what nots. Chanced upon this at Asia Tower, brimming with people. Hailing from Australia, they claim to be the healthiest fast food.

Salads come in three portions - small ($5.90), medium ($8.90), large ($10.90). You can match 2 salads within one portion.

sumo salad

Meditrerranean Chick Pea , Garlic pesto dressing

Loads of chick peas here without a distinctive taste though.

Pesto Chicken and Avocado, Pasta dressing

Completely stole the bowl away with a strong punch and tons of ingredients. Wholesome walnuts, feta cheese, creamed avocado and shredded chicken with a garden of leaves.

Repeated pesto chicken with leafy salad of sundried tomatoes, olives and feta cheese. There was a feta cheese overload for this combination and I do not fancy whole sundried tomatoes that much anymore. Shall stick to something less strong in taste when pairing with pesto chicken next time!

Real hearty salads at a reasonable price to boot, will be returning soon even with the distance!

The Salad Stop!

Queues for this are surprising neverending every time I attempt to make a purchase and possibly the only salad shop with only 10 types of ready made local flavour salad recipes to pick from. Their menu was limited to either salad or wraps, the latter were priced slightly cheaper.


fresh+


Oh Crab Lah! ($10)
Mixed greens, crabsticks, tomato, vermicilli, egg, red onion, croutons, singapore chilli crab dressing

A subpar rendition of our local delicacy in a salad I have to admit. Crabsticks for a start set the game for doomsday and the chilli crab dressing barely packed a whimper. Croutons were a lousy replacement for fried mantou. Not the best salad attempted but I thought the parmesan cheese stick was delish. An overload of onions it ended up being.

another salad joint

Fresh+

tuna salad

They offer half sized portions – hooray! A choice of 6 toppings and dressing to the tune of $6.90 and premium toppings like smoked salmon, smoked chicken or feta cheese come at a surcharge of $2.80. Their selection of dressings come in 6 flavours and I went for friendly honey mustard. It could be the combinations of corn, red beans, tuna and honey mustard that made it sweeter than it should be. I enjoyed the salad but it could do with a bit more on the savoury side. I do foresee repeats but Salad Shop is still tops for me.


munch


Munch
Marina Bay Link Mall

The first brush with their crayfish wrap yonks ago left a deep impression, until a certain Christmas gathering yonks ago as well that I somehow did not fancy Munch that much either. Until this salad trail that I re-attempted their salads to give be on fair ground. Their salad portions start from 3 sides onwards and greedy me took 4 to have more variety. I ended up picking portions of what looked and tasted like curry chicken, achar, a pile of bland fungi and a comparatively delicious feta cheese pear salad. It could be the over adventurous streak in them of introducing asian flavours to expand the salad selection that did not go down to well when all were consumed together. Still not a fan, unfortunately.



fruit basket



The Fruit Basket
51 Telok Ayer Street #01-06A
China Square Food Center

lemon mustard

DIY Salad ($6.90 for 5 toppings, $2 for additional meat topping)
Broccoli, Corn, Chick Peas, Mushroom, Carrot, Baked Chicken, Lemon Mustard Dressing

The portion was somewhat huge after all that tossing, at least it looked filling. Lemon mustard dressing, please remember it – one that packs such a mighty punch. I have never quite had a salad dressing with such strong flavour, every bite had mustard. I love mustard and definitely welcome the fiery aftertaste. I found the baked chicken cubes too small but otherwise, a really refreshing salad with lots of flavour. While this does not topple Salad Shop as top favourite, it does come close. 
I came to realise how much of a difference off the rack salads and make your own salads are - at least on the experience it does differ! It is akin to not knowing how the final taste would be until the fork reaches the mouth, otherwise the taste is a figment of my imagination. I can possibly play around with the dozens of permutations and combinations to find that particular taste I love.

Addicted to salads, this love has only just begun.

I described this foray into premixed salads to a friend describing it as – when you have tasted freedom, the pre-set rules seem restrictive. This is my take on salads, D-I-Y is alot more liberating and satisfying than the gone with the wind pre-made ones.

10 comments:

  1. Salads are what a-hem mypaper... I mean CBD executives eat for lunch. ;P :D

    I'm not a salad person but now you make me want to munch from a huge bowl now! Nice post! (:

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  2. Very random but I like Toast's roasted pumpkin & tofu salad! But they've closed their One Raffles Place outlet. Urgh... now you've got me craving salads, of all things!

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  3. @ice: haha, well they still have another outlet at taka? i looooooove salads!

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  4. that's an insane amount of leaves you ate there.

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  5. @ice: it flew into spam strangely! haha so here's it approved! :P

    @tyw: hahahahahah hey!!! i love my greens. betcha gonna miss em when you leave cbd for real!

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  6. Hi, Saladstop! also offers create your own salad and wraps with over 40 toppings! Great place and cool staff! It's the best salad place in Singapore, for me.

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  7. Wow, extensive research. I like Sumo Salad the best. Cheap and good. I think so far they are the only one have calories chart.

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  8. @Jane: :) their's are the most filling methinks and most generous with feta cheese that the rest stinge on!

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  9. ya, extensive menu to choose from also. You can have something different everyday with a decent price. Try their South West Chicken, really good.

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  10. @jane: im completely with you on southwest chicken!!! it's my fave now instead of pesto chicken. *drools*

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