HRVST by Kilter Avenue

The hype: Just a few months after its brick-and-mortar debut, fitness space Kilter Avenue launches its very own in-house vegan restaurant and bar HRVST (pronounced Harvest). Targeted not just at members of the gym, HRVST aims to be a place that vegans and vegetarians can be proud of; to introduce to their meat-eating friends as an inclusive but tasty dining destination for everyone.

The vibe: Located on the fifth floor of OUE Downtown Gallery, HRVST fits right in with the retail mall’s portfolio of health and wellness offerings. The cozy 36-seater shares its space with Kilter Avenue—but step outside and the restaurant extends to an alfresco bar that accommodates 40. The interior is designed with a clean but modern cafe aesthetic of rose gold and industrial accents; comfortable and inviting.

The food: Seeking to change mindsets about vegan food, head chefs Addis Tan and Dylan Choong (a vegan himself) bring to the table innovative treatment of otherwise “bland” dishes. Between them they share close to 20 years of experience in the kitchens of Tippling Club, Esquina and Cheek by Jowl—and it shows, in the exquisite plating and robust flavors of the dishes put out.

Appetizers (actually bar snacks) to try include the Twice-cooked Potato Spuds ($8) with soy-based mayonnaise and garlic aioli, and the Seaweed Tofu Croquettes ($8)—crispy seaweed tofu deep-fried in batter, served with the same mayo and a touch of yuzu. It’s hearty, but without the guilt of excessive oil, and the yuzu gives quite the acidic kick.

The King “oyster” Scallops ($12), made impressively of mushroom, are worth a try simply for how they retain that same taut chewiness of real scallops; a “garlic snow” garnish of garlic oil and tapioca starch makes the dish both extra flavorful and pretty. The garlic oil is actually one of the many herbs grown and sourced from the outdoor garden on the restaurant terrace—a literal harvest at HRVST.

For something truly unique, order the Sourdough and Nut Spread sandwich ($14), which comes with an unexpected main ingredient—orange-glazed grilled tofu. Surprisingly it works; the nut butter made in-house is the star of the dish, with a creamy, unique tang that balances the tofu taste nicely. There’s also a “Bak kut teh” Risotto ($16) that recreates the aromatic fragrance of BKT, with barley risotto that makes for a welcome change from your usual rice grain. The must-try main, however, is the Pumpkin Gnocchi ($16), which deftly substitutes pumpkin for pasta and soaks it in a sour and spicy tom yum broth. Before you know it, you’ll be lapping up the bowl and asking for seconds.

The drinks: Alcohol at a healthy restaurant? It’s true; gym rats drink too. The rooftop bar menu includes a sizeable selection of bottled beers, wines and cocktails; some of the latter too incorporating herbs from the garden. Happy Hour is generous and changes through the week—from $5 house pours on Mon to 1-for-1 deals on Fri. If you’re adamant on having a thoroughly clean meal, HRVST stocks a small range of cold-pressed juices too.

Why you’ll be back: As newly reformed ex-meat snobs, we admit—don’t ever belittle vegan food. Perhaps one of the only vegan places with a distinct Asian focus, HRVST takes the misunderstood technique of substituting vegetables for meat, and turns it into an art form. And for its presentation and quality of ingredients, the food is extremely affordable. HRVST’s only downfall is that it receives very little foot traffic—but that’s no problem, because once you’ve made it a point to seek it out once, you’ll certainly be returning in the future.