The Rochor outlet of Kwan Inn Vegetarian Food is the younger brother of the larger and better known branch in Geylang. It is located within the spiritual enclave of Waterloo Street, an area replete with vegetarian eateries. Although the address is Queen Street, it is actually located along a busy row of food stalls (called “QS 269 Food House”) that connect Waterloo Street and Queen Street. When approaching from the Waterloo Street side, the entrance is bang in the middle (but on the opposite side) of the Kwan Im and Sri Krishnan Temples – you can’t miss it.
Despite the Food House being located in one of Singapore’s vegetarian strongholds, the sights and smells of meat stalls abound. Its layout is long and narrow, which makes it difficult to escape the endless varieties of chicken and duck rice, fish porridge and gizzards on display. Nonetheless, Kwan Inn is a breath of fresh(ish) vegetarian air in an otherwise busy and claustrophobic hawker centre. It specialises in vegetarian versions of local favourites (laksa, chicken rice, porridge, char siew noodles, and so on) as well as the ubiquitous vegetarian fare of (brown) rice and dishes. It is notoriously cheap, with most dishes going for SGD 3.00 each.
Kwan Inn Vegetarian Food
269B Queen Street, Stall 12
Open 06:00-18:00 daily
Appetising to the eyes, but unfortunately a little bland to the taste. The mock char siew looked incredible – so real that I had trouble believing that it didn’t start life as a pig. Unfortunately the sweet tanginess of char siew was too subtle for my liking, and was a poor imitation of the real thing. The egg noodles had a clean eggy flavour, but, again, the sauce at the bottom of the plate was watery and lacked flavour. The cai xin was good – crisp and fresh – but the mock dumplings were only average – the taste was nice and fragrant, but the outer shells were half crisp, half soggy. The dish is well priced, but lacks oomph.
If it wasn’t for the name, I would struggle to identify this dish as being chicken rice. The rice was nice, if a little unconventional. It had a very slight green tinge to it (derived from pandan leaves), and some very subtle ginger notes. The mock chicken was bizarre and a little bit scary. It literally comprised of rolls and rolls of rubbery beancurd sheets that were nearly impossible to cut or tear apart, and which slid all over the plate when I tried to do so. It was rather tasteless, but probably more natural than its gluten counterparts. The chicken had little flavour, and I ended up being thankful for the soy sauce.
Overall, Kwan Inn’s specialism is providing vegetarian versions of local favourites in large portions and at a good price. They do this well, but at the expense of taste.