Ever since the airing of the Korean drama series, Dae Jang Geum (大长今), we started to see the slow thinning out of Japanese cultural influences in Singapore, as we witness the rise of the K-wave. Everything from the once dominating J-pop, J-fashion, J-food made a switch to everything K-ish. The Japanese have their sushi as their all-time favourite, while the Koreans have their kimchi. This spicy, sour, crunchy, fermented vegetable dish was a direct hit with Singaporeans’ spice-loving tastebuds.
I am a kimchi-lover too, but as a vegan, I have to scrutinise the ingredients before devouring it eagerly. Sad to say, kimchi, though seemingly vegan, usually has animal ingredients within. Poor fish and shrimp. Upon discovering this, there was this kimchi void for years. Though unbearable, we finally see (and taste) hope! Nowadays, vegan kimchi is not impossible to find if one is meticulous enough. They can be found in some supermarkets. But finding kimchi without the five pungent roots (garlic, onion, leeks, chives and shallots) is a whole new level of challenge for Mahayana Buddhist vegans. (E.g. kimchi is almost always with one (garlic) to three (plus onion and chives) of these roots!
Okay, enough of the brief history of how tempting but elusive vegan kimchi invaded our otherwise under-spiced Singaporean lives. Things did improve a little during the last few years. There is definitely demand for Buddhist vegan kimchi. After all, many Buddhist vegetarians here do not eat the five roots. We can see that some veggie eateries making effort to introduce their own version of kimchi and Korean food. Then, we saw veggie food suppliers importing jars of root-free vegan kimchi. But having tried most of them, none really lived up the full potential of kimchi-ness.
Then, enters ‘The Boneless Kitchen’, which I got to know via Facebook. It was previously known as Han Yi at Tai Seng, and is now relocated at Jalan Bukit Merah. The Boneless Kitchen is not a full-fledged vegan eatery as they have dairy stuff in some dishes, but vegan items are clearly marked on their menu with icons. A thumb up for this. Another good thing is that all their dishes are free of the roots. Another thumb up!
I must say, it’s offers the best Buddhist vegan kimchi that I had tasted in Singapore so far. There might be a better version in kimchi-land though.) It could be better with less salt, while the spiciness and sourness are spot on. It won’t take a mentalist to see how we miss kimchi as we ordered almost everything kimchi-related. (There are some western and local dishes on the menu as well.) However, I’m slightly disappointed that the kimchi noodles contain cheese in it. When I asked if they can do without cheese, it was kind of discouraged due to discount of flavour, and kimchi stew with rice was recommended instead. Next time, I might insist on trying the cheeseless noodle! This might encourage creating an equally delectable cheeseless version!
We definitely had a hearty meal at there. We walked out the eatery with red hot lips. Be warned though, that the air-conditioning did not seem to be at full blast. So, you might have to prepare to perspire if you are going for a kimchi marathon. But again, maybe that’s just me. If you’re going, ‘잘먹겠습니다!’ (jal-meok-kket-sseum-ni-da; aka Bon Appétit!)
11 Jalan Bukit Merah #03-4458
Operating Hours: Mon = 1130am to 3pm
Tue – Sun = 1130am to 9pm
Tel: 9023 2725
3. Kimchi Fried Rice
4. Kimchi Pancake
5. Kimchi Stew
6. Table Menu