The restaurant is named after an extract from Chlorella Sorokiniana, an alga that has 5 to 10 times more Vitamin E and beta-carotene than any other algae. The extract is used as an ingredient in the café's drinks. Snazzy menus, reasonable prices and comfortable seating add to the dining experience. Besides enjoying its delectable dishes, one can also chill at the couches, sipping healthy mixers without worrying about the calories.
Creative light bites like papadum surprise combine the crispiness of the Indian snack with smooth tofu.
Main courses such as baked rice are served with either tomato or cream-based sauce while the most popular dish, Portobello mushroom burger, consists of a big Portobello mushroom with romaine lettuce, tomatoes and Mexican sauce in between two pieces of crusty foccacia bread.
A must-try is the dessert, "Chendol with a Twist", where chendol is served with coconut ice-cream and shavings on top.
Being vegetarian inclined but not an avowed one (yet!), I was wondering why the two Indinine establishments haven’t been reviewed here. So we trotted off to the Suntec outlet at the Sky Garden level for lunch. It was a surprise in more ways than one.
First surprise. We chose the wrong day. Blasting away in the atrium at a volume that would do a St. James Power Station DJ proud, was a compère trying to entice kids to participate in some kind of competition promoting something commercial. And then challenging this maddening mayhem was the café’s very own muzak, volume turned up! I mean my eyes could hardly focus on the menu! I told the waiter to turn his muzak down as I’ll appreciate it another day and tried to retreat as far as back as possible from the excitable unknown compère downstairs, but then Indinine’s back wall was decorated by a huge bank of glaring theatre dressing room type lights! Well, their apple green Formica table tops tried their futile level best to provide a calming effect.
Surprise number two came when my eyes were steady enough to study the fine print on the menu. It read: indinine – a nucleotide-peptide complex, extracted from the nucleus of a single-cell alga that helps in the synthesis of proteins, enzymes and energy at the cellular level. It is claimed to contain 5-10 times more Vitamin E and betacarotene than other algae! Whoa! Huh? Algae? My mind raced through its recesses: what other alga do I normally take? Blank. This is no ordinary vegetarian joint trying to carve out a living in carnivorous Singapura, this is a serious health food establishment! It’s pronounced Indi-neen, we were told, and it’s sold separately and directly via multi-level marketing as a health food!
The fairly extensive non-alcoholic list of drinks (no alcohol served here, in keeping with its healthy image) included mixers which are really combination fruit/veggie blends plus indinine ($5.20). Got to try one of these unique signature drinks don’t we? I thought I should maximize my “health” visit here and chose the detox specialty called “toxbox” containing beetroot (the staple in many detox drinks) among others plus indinine of course. Serving size was rather small, no larger than an ordinary cup of take away coffee, with ice included – well, the indinine is expensive! There’s something distinctly different in the taste which I could only attribute to “that” ingredient. It’s a health drink, I sort of consoled myself. Did I make the right choice? We’ll see later ….
Water and drinks were served in plastic cups. Hmmm… was this a concession to strict hygiene or an indication that this was really a fast food joint albeit healthy? Perhaps the tagline: “HEALTHY fast food!” would have been a highly effective promotion?
And surprisingly fast it was! Our salad came in less than 5 minutes and our mains came a minute or two later! That compère downstairs could have stolen a healthy break in this joint! Surprise number two.
The Waldorf salad had the classic ingredients of diced apples, julienne celery and chopped walnuts in a mayonnaise dressing. Upon enquiry, they have also added honey and a dash of mustard to the dressing. A most delicious result!
The main baked rice with cheese and cream (garlic was optional) was richly flavoured as one would expect and the aromatic rice cooked to perfection. Given the quick serving, the rice must have been pre-cooked, but nevertheless, the result was superb.
The main udon stir-fry was a bit ordinary, a bit mild. It could have done with a bit more glitzy “glamour” in taste.
I took advantage of the cheesecake promotion, ($5 including coffee/tea) by-passing the dessert menu which included an item titled “choc potty”. We smiled at the name but little did I suspect this fleeting moment could assume such poignancy later. Surprisingly (no, this is not surprise number three) we found pineapple strips, and the cheesecake, in order to attain its vegetarian credentials did not have the usual thick creamy texture but instead was more like firm jelly without sacrificing much of the classic cheesecake signature taste. Made by the boss’ wife, we were proudly told by the knowledgeable waiter, and no egg. Ah, that explains it.
Value is undeniably great. Salads and appetizers $6 or less. None of the mains including pasta exceeded $10. The mixer drinks were the most expensive at $5.20. This is a family friendly place as kids enjoy special $5 meals which cover selected mains and sides. And there’s eggless and handmade ice cream of sufficient variety of flavours to entice them!
One wonders though whether this eatery is really a promotional vehicle for the Indinine MLM products where the real business is done!?
Now comes surprise number three. Literally within minutes of leaving I felt an unmistakable urgent and unrelenting nature’s call, you know the type that immediately causes one to recall what one has just eaten? The rice, udon, waldorf, cheesecake, “toxbox” drink with the indinine? My lunch partner tried everything I did except the drink, and her digestive system was humming along smoothly and contentedly. Hmmmm…. the drink must be suspect number one.
On returning home, googling “indinine” gave me http://www.indinine.biz/
“IndinineTM enhances tissue repair, detoxifies at cellular level, improves bowel function, and stimulates the immune system without any undesirable side effects.”
Aha, that explained my bowel movement (rather explosion) straight after the meal! And my energy level throughout the rest of the day seemed a notch above normal, wasn't it? Indinine works! All is forgiven.
Conclusion. Despite the ambience shortcomings which was really luck of the draw or avoid it on rowdy days, this place has to be on the vegetarian's list. For non-vegetarians, an occasional visit will do one a world of good and should not disappoint.