Restaurant Review: Tiny Cordyceps Fungus Packs A Nourishing Punch At Ganglamedo
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The Tibet-inspired vegetarian eatery banks on the finest ingredients and attention to detail to elevate the simplest dishes
What’s comfort food to you? Chicken soup? Bak kut teh? What about a meatless alternative: Cordyceps soup?
Once we had a bowl of the exotic soup at Ganglamedo, we knew it was something we’d love to have on a rainy day. It’s just what the doctor ordered, especially for the busy office workers in Tanjong Pagar, where the Tibetan-inspired vegetarian restaurant recently put down its earthy roots.
Made with premium whole Cordyceps sinensis, chewy bamboo fungus, Matsutake mushrooms, and black truffle oil, the Nagqu Cordyceps Double-Boiled Soup ($68/person) is a whole fungi fiesta in your belly. The woody aroma will pull you in, before enveloping you in a comforting warmth without the greasy aftertaste of a meat broth.
Nagqu Cordyceps Double-Boiled Soup ($68/person)
We were expecting some warmth for sure – after all, it was a boiled soup served hot – but what caught us by surprise was the soothing hints of natural sweetness. When our hosts told us that was the doing of the single Cordyceps fungus in each of our bowls, we picked it up to examine the small wonder closely.
Despite its worm-like shape, and the misleading Mandarin name that literally translates as “winter worm, summer grass,” the Cordyceps is not actually a worm, but a parasitic fungus that grows from caterpillars. Its medicinal properties are world famous, treating various conditions from asthma to fatigue.
At Ganglamedo, the Cordyceps are sourced wild from the mountainous regions of Nagqu Tibet. They are first thoroughly cleansed for an hour to remove the bitterness and ensure that it is safe for consumption, before being added with the bamboo fungus and mushrooms to a stock that had already been boiling for five to six hours. In individual pots to serve each bowl, everything is boiled again for about two hours. A few drops of black truffle oil are added as the final fittings to this luxurious bowl of comfort.
You’ll need to order a day in advance for a bowl – a requirement that makes perfect sense to us seeing how the cooking process is so meticulous and laborious.
But don’t let missing out the cordyceps potion deter you from dropping by Restaurant Ganglamedo as other nourishing delights are offered at its natural lighting drenched-abode. Bedecked with rustic wood-paneled furniture and adorned with cultural curiosities of traditional bronze artifacts and ornate0painted crockery, the interior follows the design ethos of mindfulness, found in Tibetan philosophy, that urges visiting diners to take a break from the high-pressure city life and slow down and sip on some buckwheat tea ($5/person; free-flow).
Do note: You won’t find mystery mock meat here at the vegetarian restaurant. Instead, the chefs play up the natural flavours of organic and unprocessed plant-based ingredients. Our resident vegetarian enthusiastically approves!
Sesame Mochi Bread ($8 for four pieces)
Our culinary respite began with quite an adventure that helped open up our palate. We went from the sweet and chewy Sesame Mochi Bread ($8 for four pieces) to the savoury and crispy Homemade Fried Spinach Pancake ($12).
Before the soup, we first got acquainted with the Cordyceps family through the “flower” cousin, Cordyceps militaris. Its orange brilliance makes the Dry-Tossed Cordyceps Flower ($12) a vibrant stunner, wrapped around carrots, radishes, enoki mushrooms and fresh coriander, with just a tinge of spiciness. If you’re looking to soak up more of this fungal wholesomeness, you can go for the Special Cordyceps Menu ($88 per person), or even ask to purchase some of the exquisite Cordyceps from the friendly staff!
Dry-Tossed Cordyceps Flower ($12)
While all the dishes so far were starting to persuade even the most carnivorous among us to join the green side, we couldn’t help but want something to fill us up a bit more. Our wish was granted when the staff brought out our Pure Vegetarian Hot Pot ($35) soup bases and assorted vegetable platter, which included imported seasonal delicacies like Japanese sea asparagus, organic black beancurd, and purple cauliflower from Australia.
With Ganglamedo’s recent updating of their menu, the Hot Pot has been modified into a Soup of The Day. The varying soups available are Mushroom, White Pea, Hot & Sour, and Tomato. While the mushroom has a herbal tang that might not appeal to all, the broth’s lightness more than compensates, making it popular among diners. The sweet Tomato also delights, but our personal favourite was the White Pea, slightly thick and pulpy with actual white peas. Providing some carbs is the Cold Truffle Capellini Pasta with Maitake Mushroom ($35) – the truffle sauce is so yummy and clean, you’ll want to use the springy noodles to soak up every drop of it.
Winter Pumpkin Cake, Coated With Cereal Confetti ($11)
We were having ourselves such a surprisingly hearty yet light meal with the fresh veggies and noodles, we almost forgot about dessert! One look at the Winter Pumpkin Cake ($11), coated with brown rice cereal confetti, and we knew we’d make room for it in our tummies if we needed to. It turns out we didn’t, because the cake was light as air with just the right amount of sweetness, thanks to the steamed pumpkin puree filling.
Our hosts told us we had to eat it immediately – because the cake (like all the dishes at Ganglamedo) is free of all that preservative, artificial colouring and MSG junk – and we didn’t have to be told twice!
Address: 40 Craig Road, Singapore 089678
Contact No.: 6423 9788
Operating hours: 11:30am – 2:30pm, 6pm – 9:30pm daily.