I hadn’t been to the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve for like two decades. The last time I did a trek there was during my secondary school days when I was part of the National Police Cadet Corps (NPCC). And since the husband hadn’t been there too since moving to Singapore, I thought it’d be a good opportunity for us to go exploring so we geared ourselves up for the trek, in our sportswear and trainers and headed to this part of the island that we weren’t too familiar with.
First stop was The Rail Mall where we grabbed some lunch.
Perfectly sunny day. I took this shot while standing on the overhead bridge. In the distance, the old railway truss bridge could be seen. That’s probably how The Rail Mall got its name as it is located next to the railway tracks that lead to the now defunct Bukit Timah Railway Station.
And in the background just behind The Rail Mall, that is the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.
We initially thought The Rail Mall was a shopping centre but it turned out to be a row of shops, restaurants and cafes on one (ground) level. Cold Storage Supermarket is also located here. For residents in this neighbourhood, The Rail Mall does provide the much needed convenience as there is no MRT network in the area.
It’s also a pretty nice place to hang out with family and friends over meals, desserts or coffee as it’s not overly crowded like down town Orchard, etc.
This organic vegetarian cafe caught our attention which was an ideal choice for lunch as we didn’t want anything greasy or heavy before our walk. Tummy aches during a trek are awful!
The cafe sits within the store that carries a huge selection of organic products like fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, beverages, snacks, nuts, grains, health supplements and even beauty products.
As we were quite early, it was easy to get a table. When we were seated, we noticed no one came forward to take our orders. I couldn’t see any service staff whom I could gesture to as well. When we noticed other customers were fiddling with tablets at their tables, we then realised…
we had a tablet too just underneath our table!
The tablet is a digital menu on which we could place our orders so there isn’t a need for a service staff to take orders manually. I’m impressed that such a small, humble establishment can be so tech-savvy.
We ordered a home-brewed Iced Lemon Grass Tea ($3.50) to share. As we requested for it to be less sweet (just make a comment when placing order on the tablet), we could taste the intense aroma of lemon grass in it which also had a hint of spicy ginger. You’d have to love lemon grass to love this as it’s really quite a strong brew.
I was thrilled to see abacus on the menu as I hadn’t had it for years. An aunty of mine (the daughter-in-law of my grandfather and his first wife – I have a complicated family tree lol) is really good at cooking home-style Hakka dishes and she makes an awesome abacus which still makes me salivate at the thought of it. This abacus tasted equally good if not better. Each abacus seed is smooth and springy, firm and chewy with a lovely yam flavour. The other ingredients of mushrooms, firm beancurd, carrots, coriander, black and white sesame seeds simply gave the dish more textures and fragrance too. Utterly delicious!
When this salad noodle was served, it totally wowed me by its appearance. There were so many elements in this one dish that was big enough to be a main course. The dressing was a refreshing balance of sweet and sour with what seemingly tasted like apple cider vinegar that wasn’t too overpowering. The e-fu noodles were also springy. I loved the colours and the wide variety of toppings from the rice crisps, crushed cashew nuts, pumpkin seeds to the seaweed etc. Everything just worked harmoniously. All the nutrients, vitamins and minerals you can think of are probably all on this plate!
While there are so many other interesting items to try on the menu, I chose to order the Thunder Tea Brown Rice as it’s something both my husband and I always enjoy. We didn’t regret the decision. The key was the tea broth that was thick and very aromatic. At first I thought it was a little too strong for my liking when I tried a spoonful but after pouring it over the rice and mixing up with all the vegetables, the final concoction was an uber addictive one. The generous amount of different vegetables provided the crunch and what I really liked were the little crispy sticks (to replace ikan bilis) and crushed cashew nuts (instead of peanuts) that really revolutionise the traditional thunder tea rice. I couldn’t make out what the crispy sticks were made off – black fungus or yam – but they were light, crunchy and absolutely not oily at all.
When we were done with the meal, we checked back on the tablet again to see the total bill amount, headed to the counter and made payment. And how could I not do a little shopping around the store?
Bought this interesting pack of chips so we could bring it along as a snack during our trek. Cassava is another name for tapioca but this didn’t taste like the harder tapioca chips that we are familiar with.
The texture was more like prawn crackers, light and airy and they didn’t feel greasy to the touch. Though these chips were flavoured with fresh organic pumpkin, I couldn’t really taste the pumpkin much. While these chips weren’t spectacular, they still made a good snack during those peckish moments.
Needless to say, we would definitely return again to Sunny Choice to try its other vegetarian dishes. And I want to buy their Purple Sweet Potato Chips too! An excellent meal to start the day with and we couldn’t resist this sugar free ice cream parlour that we spotted at The Rail Mall too which I shall blog about in my next post. Stay tuned!
Sunny Choice Organic Vegetarian Cafe
434 Upper Bukit Timah Road
The Rail Mall
Tel: 6892 2383
Opening hours: 10.00am to 9.00pm (Wed-Mon), Closed on Tues