“Mmm…,” said my lunch buddy, Sham as she slurped up the beef pho from Orange Lantern. The beef pho had arrived piping hot with thinly slice beef, loaded with fresh mint, cilantro, basil, bean sprouts, limes, and cili padi.
This is just what you need on cold rainy days. You can feel the soup clear up all the gunk in your sinuses and all the greens make you feel healthier immediately. In fact, just entering The Orange Lantern makes you feel like you stepped into a slower pace of life, away from the hectic fast-paced world in normal-day Singapore. There are lanterns, and paintings of Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, and Ho Chin Minh City which the founder and Managing Director, Alvin Lee had commissioned.
“I wanted to introduce to people what Vietnam is like through the taste of this land. I myself first tasted Vietnamese food while I was studying in Australia and really loved the food. It was really common there but when I came back to Singapore, hardly anyone heard of Vietnamese food. Thai food was more popular. So my initial customers were mainly expats, until Vietnam became a more popular tourist area. Only then did I got more and more customers.”
Healthy Wraps and Crunchy Rolls
Vietnamese food is known for one thing. Being healthy. Especially with dishes like Fresh gỏi cuốn. These are the paper-thin translucent rice paper wraps with prawn and salad and lots of vegetables which you have for appetisers. Being typically Singaporean, one of our favourite food was the Nem Cung Đình Imperial Rolls dunked in fish sauce. That crunch on the roll was so delicate!There’s many types of rolls to choose from- first of all, the familiar and tangy BBQ Chicken marinated with Lemongrass or Mango; next, the Avocado and Apple for the crunchy fruity flavour; Prawn for seafood lovers; Mushroom and Tofu for vegetarians; and lastly for something different, Smoked Duck or Sardine Fish. Any 2 rolls is priced at $6.90 while 3 pieces is priced at $8.90. Their salads are at $4.90 with toppings like pomelo, mango, beef, chicken, or smoked duck. Very affordable!
Making halal Vietnamese food
“It was not that difficult to make Vietnamese food halal. In line with wanting to introduce the cuisine to more tastebuds in Singapore, the only thing I had some trouble with was to make the pho taste as good as Vietnamese’s pho. This took some rounds of tasting,” said Alvin who still develops the recipes himself from a central kitchen.
Recently, he has hired a chef from Hanoi- Chef Vu Ngoc Anh to introduce traditional tastes of Hanoi to Singapore, like the Hanoi Tumeric Fish with Dill and Scallion, Saigon Laksa Noodle Soup, and Vietnamese Chargrilled Chicken Satay and Sugarcane Prawn with Vermicelli and Salad. “I’ve introduced these traditional tastes from Hanoi, but Singaporeans would still stick to the familiar food, so the Saigon Laksa is still the most popular among locals!” said Alvin.
Sweet and simple
Next, we finished the meal with a humble dessert- four pieces of Cassava Coconut Cakes which is served warm and just melts on your tongue. This is so far away from cupcakes and fancy decorated cakes that are popular right now but once it lands in your tummy, you smile from satisfaction of how simple food can make you happy and feel so blessed you are able to enjoy this in Singapore. You are reminded again of everything which is Vietnamese- simple, but packs a punch.
Nice and Slow is the Way to Go
One more thing that’s tiny but powerfully packed is this Vietnamese coffee which Sham says is delicious, and she’s one coffee connoisseur. Vietnamese coffee is almost always drip coffee. Go out to any Vietnamese street coffee stall and you’ll find these aluminium drip filters and cups of exquisitely aromatic black coffee underneath. The Vietnamese like coffee nice and slow, just like their conversation and their lifestyle. Setting up the filter and choosing right time to drink is an art in itself. Drip coffee is very thick, and the coffee bean is usually intentionally over-roasted, making it quite bitter. Now you don’t have to travel all the way to Vietnam to experience this state of mind. Just walk into The Orange Lantern and order coffee and cassava coconut cake for tea.When you’re looking for comforting food, especially soups, The Orange Lantern still makes one of the best halal beef pho (S$12.90) in Singapore and you can have it in many locations around Singapore. Click the links below for full address and more information about the restaurant highlights.
South: Maritime Square
Central: Killiney and Alexandra
This post is sponsored by The Orange Lantern.
The Orange Lantern is a halal-certified merchant proudly listed on halalfoodhunt.com.