Onn Vegetarian @ Upper Boon Keng Road

I love the name of this place. Short and simple and industrious and pronounceable – you couldn’t ask for more. According to Hungry Ang Mo, it’s derived from the Cantonese pronunciation of the chef’s hometown – Anson (Onn Soon) in Perak, Malaysia. An interesting fact that adds an extra layer of meaning to those three (actually, two) humble letters. A seriously good name; one of the best.

And it would appear that the food isn’t too shoddy either! Very positive reviews from the HAM, and Life of Lopsided 8 (amongst others) suggest that this is not a place to be trifled with. The chef (Chef Wai) has all-star culinary credentials that have been honed in some of Singapore’s best eateries (notably Les Amis, but also the Swissotel). For the past five years (or so) he has found his way back down to earth, and has graciously applied his cooking skills to the badlands of Geylang. Very cool.

Onn’s isn’t, strictly speaking, in Geylang, but on the outskirts. It’s within spitting distance of Kallang MRT, nestled within the breezy confines of the ‘Food House’. The service is relaxed and friendly, the location accessible, the food vegetarian… What’s not to like?

Onn Vegetarian
G5 Food House, Block 5 Upper Boon Keng Road
9152 6917
Facebook
Open 07:00-14:30 Monday-Saturday; CLOSED Sunday

GREEN CURRY WITH ORGANIC BROWN RICE (SGD 7.00)

The once-(or twice)-a-month special, Onn’s green curry was served with a healthy dose of high expectations. Unfortunately, it didn’t meet them. Despite having plenty of ingredients, the curry itself was thin and watery and lacked the creaminess of coconut milk, which, for me at least, is one of the keys to a good green curry. The range of ingredients was decent – baby and pea eggplant, brinjal, cherry tomatoes, lime, kaffir lime leaves, silken tofu (a strange addition), mock calamari (incredibly big, rubbery and ugly), mock fish and red chilli – but the flavours were flat and one-dimensional. That dimension was (an almost asam-like) sourness which was derived from the lime (lime, not kaffir lime – another key to a good green curry). Given the price and expectation, this was quite disappointing.

Verdict: 4.9/10

CHICKEN RICE (SGD 4.00)

Just as I was about to write Onn’s off as a great name with little substance, along came the chicken rice. It was incredible – the best chicken rice I have ever eaten, whether ‘real’ or ‘vegetarian’. Whilst i’m not much of a fan of mock meat, I have to make an exception for Onn’s chicken. Not only was it soft and tender and well-seasoned, but it also had a crispy outer skin that retained a delicious charred taste. Amazing – I still can’t believe the meat wasn’t real. The rice was also subtly fragrant, and the whole dish was well-seasoned with soy sauce and spring onion. What a comeback!

Verdict: 9.6/10

I have no doubt in my mind that Onn’s is a top notch vegetarian eatery. Whilst the green curry was disappointing, it isn’t part of the regular repertoire of Chinese dishes. Instead, you can look forward to the better-than-the-real-thing chicken rice (Tuesdays only), wanton noodles (Monday, Wednesday, Friday), dried noodles (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday), and a whole host of other local favourites. 

Atmosphere: 6.8/10
Service: 8.4/10
Taste: 7.3/10
Value: 7.6/10

See also:
Hungry Ang Mo’s review
Life of Lopsided 8’s review

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