COCONUTS HOT SPOT – A cozy oasis in the busy Tanjong Pagar neighborhood, Ganglamedo is worlds apart from the typical CBD eatery that caters to an office crowd. Sitting comfortably in a three-story shop house, the 44-seater exudes zen vibes the moment you step in, welcomed by its wood-paneled accents and gold hues.
The feel is rustic and homely, akin to that of a relaxing spa, prettified with traditional Tibetan artifacts, elaborate wall motifs, and grand ornaments sourced from across Tibet and China.
Each booth or table is separated by multi-colored blinds for some peace and quiet, but there’s also the private dining room on the third floor for special occasions. Oh, and some décor items are for sale, so those shopping for new home furnishings can make enquiries if you see a piece that catches your eye.
Just like its embellishments, Ganglamedo – which means “snow lotus” in Tibetan – goes back to nature’s roots with its vegetarian cuisine. Think simple dishes elevated with modern techniques, made with plant-based, organic Tibetan ingredients that stay as close to their natural flavors as possible. So yeah, none of that mock meat or processed, preserved crap here.
One interesting thing to note is the restaurant’s use of Cordyceps sinensis, a type of fungus used in traditional Chinese and Tibetan medicine, sourced from the mountainous region of Naqu, Tibet.
Known for its medicinal benefits – such as improving respiratory and heart health, strengthening the immune system, and boosting skin health – the pricey ingredient appears here in a double-boiled soup ($68/person; with black truffle, matsutake, and bamboo fungus) that’s as comforting as it is nourishing. Only 10 to 15 portions are made fresh over six to eight hours each day, so you might want to call in advance to reserve your order.
But if you’re not about to drop dollars on a bowl of soup, no matter how nutritious it is, try the Dry Toss Cordyceps Flower appetizer ($12) with slivers of carrot, radish, enoki mushrooms, and a dash of house-made mala sauce for that mouth-numbing tingle. There’s also the five-course Cordyceps menu ($88/person) with the aforementioned two creations and other dishes such as the Tibetan hand roll with mixed veggies, and noodles with Chinese truffle and Cordyceps sauce.
Meanwhile, those in the mood for meatless steamboat can order the Pure Vegetarian Hot Pot in Tibetan Style ($35), a plate of assorted seasonal, organic veggies that you cook in a soup base of your choice – mushroom, tomato, or white pea.
The mix of leafy greens, mushrooms, purple cauliflowers, and bean curd skins was surprisingly filling, yet it left us feeling lightweight, without the lethargic slump that comes with a carb and meat overload. However, speaking as meat lovers, we couldn’t help feeling like something was missing — a few slices of pork belly, perhaps. (Going vegetarian, even for one meal, was harder than we thought.)
Elsewhere on the menu, sharing snacks include fried spinach pancake ($12) and sesame mochi bread ($8/four pieces), which are little fragrant nubs of chewy goodness that you can dip in house-made mayo. Desserts are also created along the same simple-yet-tasty emphasis, with cereal-coated, mochi-like cubes made of winter pumpkins and glutinous rice flour ($5). They’ve got no added sugar, but they’re pleasant all the same, thanks to the natural sweetness from the pumpkin.
Despite our slight meat withdrawal symptoms, a meal at Ganglamedo is still quite the enjoyable one, unburdened by any food coma. The ambience is soothing, the food is wholesome, and you leave with the sense that you’ve just treated your body to healthy nourishment – something that doesn’t happen as often as we’d like, given our penchant for fast food and booze.
Ganglamedo is at 40 Craig Rd.
6423-9788, Daily 11:30am-3pm, 6pm-9:30pm.
MRT: Outram Park