Last Updated: November 3, 2020
Earlier this month, my best friend gave me the biggest case of FOMO when he had dinner at Gokul Vegetarian Restaurant without me. Obviously, I had to follow his tracks to their outlet at Upper Dickson Road by myself.
It was such a relief stepping into the shade from the afternoon’s harsh sun. I’d hoped to sit a little closer to the window by the entrance, but the staff brusquely sat me at a booth seat inside, so, booth seat inside it was. As always, I was ravenous from skipping breakfast, so the efficiency with which the food arrived was a pleasant surprise.
Since I’d just had a colossal briyani sesh recently, I decided to give rice a miss here. Their menu is extensive, and I wanted to order everything, so I definitely needed to choose by elimination.
Butter Chicken (S$11) was the order of the day. Generous chunks of vegan chicken sat in a tantalising gravy that wafted in waves of heavenly aroma. In a good butter chicken, you know if the butter gravy is the right thickness from the way it clings to the chicken, and here, butter and chicken were cuddling.
I was a little doubtful when I cut the ‘chicken’ chunks open to find a fibrous, dry interior that required a little extra imagination to call chicken. It tasted like classic vegetarian meat, which is great if you’re simply looking for mock meat without the taste and texture of actual chicken. I think I’ve been spoiled by the real meat I’ve been eating recently, so the mock taste in this vegan chicken wasn’t very impressive to me.
Its relatively dry interior turned out to be a helpful balance to the sauce, though. The creamy cashew tomato gravy had a delightful blend of tang and butteriness, which was appealing until it got a little overwhelming. As it turned out, the dry ‘chicken’ chunks provided some balance when everything became a little too thicc.
Don’t come to Gokul Vegetarian Restaurant and make the mistake of ordering two creamy dishes together, as I did. While delightfully reminiscent of chowder, the Vegetable Kurma (S$8) was a study in poor judgement while hungry-ordering.
With a spice sauce of yoghurt, cream and nut paste, the gravy was quite similar to the Butter Chicken in texture. My advice would be to let this shine on its own. I imagine the Vegetable Kurma would be much nicer without having to contend with another creamy dish for the limelight.
The Kurma is also available in Mushroom (S$8) and Chicken (S$10) options. As it was, I enjoyed how the long beans, peas and carrots cut through the buttery gravy with some crunchiness. For that, I’d still recommend the Vegetable option of the three.
My biggest bone to pick with Gokul Vegetarian Restaurant is the Roti Prata (S$2 per piece), which I found deeply overpriced. It’s the right degree of doughy and flaky, but it hurt to part with S$4 over two pieces of prata. If you must insist on ordering this, I’d suggest maximising your dollars by eating it as soon as you can because it can get a little hard after it has cooled down.
As it was, my disappointment turned out to be my fault, according to my best friend. To quote him, “you go to an Indian place to eat the thosai, the poori, the naan, but don’t go to an Indian place to eat prata”.
It’s all down to speciality, so save your prata fix for when you dine at Indian Muslim establishments. At this point, it feels like I should’ve brought him along. “Bring an Indian to an Indian place, henny”, he smugly tells me. Maybe he could’ve curbed my carb-blinded decision making.
Gokul Vegetarian Restaurant was a reminder of the sheer need for textural contrast in a meal, no matter how delicious each dish is on its own. If everything on the table has the same rich creaminess, the meal starts out as delectable and ends up overwhelming.
Nevertheless, from what was on the table this time, this no-frills establishment dishes out tasty vegetarian North Indian fare that you wouldn’t want to miss. If you’re looking for briyani, local noodle faves, dosa or naan, you can also find them on the full menu.
As an extra tip, a friend recommended the Nasi Lemak Set (S$7.50) to me, but since I was conservatively steering clear of rice that day, I had to give it a miss. From what I hear, though, it is a fragrant and very delightfully vegetarian rendition nasi lemak.
Gokul Vegetarian Restaurant also has a branch located at Fortune Centre, so if you find yourself nearer to the Rochor area, it’s worth dropping by for a visit.
Expected Damage: S$5 – S$12 per pax
Our Rating: 4 / 5
Gokul Vegetarian Restaurant
19 Upper Dickson Road , Singapore 207478
19 Upper Dickson Road , Singapore 207478