You know that one ultra-sustainable friend who’s always prepared with brightly patterned reusable bags, carries a hefty glass lunch box, never drinks her kopi o kosong bing from a disposable cup and sticks religiously to Meatless Mondays? That’s me.
It’s been a year since I pledged to live as sustainably as possible, and so far, one of my biggest challenges has been cutting out meat from my diet without dreading my next plant-based meal. I’ve been on the hunt (no pun intended) for meatless meals that taste good enough to tempt me into conversion, and a good contender is Sudouku.
Sudouku is currently a cloud kitchen that pledges to deliver vegan and allium-free dishes straight to your doorstep, which means you can stick to your Meatless Monday commitment without having to compromise deliciousness or healthiness.
What I tried
Pasta has always been the cornerstone of a good meal, in my oh-so-humble opinion. Sudouku offers patrons a break from typical pasta sauces and dishes with cold Japanese-inspired renditions. It all began with the Cold Wasabi Pasta (S$11). I’ll admit that the wasabi flavour and texture of cold angel hair pasta gave me a bit of cognitive dissonance simply because both its flavour and texture reminded me of two completely different cuisines. I wasn’t disappointed though, because the pasta was paired with golden-brown shiitake mushrooms, edamame, vegan caviar, nori seaweed, and delivered chilled with Sudouku’s wasabi sauce. It’s a common combination in Japanese fare, but at least that’s always reliably tasty especially if vegan-food sceptics need some time to acclimatise to a meatless diet.
My only gripe was that the journey from the kitchen to my home meant that the pasta had absorbed all the sauce, resulting in a dryness not unlike a plate of fried noodles, sans oil. It wasn’t entirely unwelcome but eating when dining in a restaurant provides an immediate experience with the food that cannot be replicated with cloud kitchens. It’s a common, yet inevitable problem for food deliveries and cloud kitchens through no fault of their own. But because of this, it’s where Sudouku, unfortunately, fell short for me.
When I call myself a truffle fiend, I mean that I’m so loyal to truffle fries that I don’t give a second thought to any other side dishes on a menu. Sudouku’s Cold Truffle Pasta (S$11) is topped with the same ingredients as the perennial fries dish but comes with fragrant truffle oil and black truffle shavings. It is a slightly more familiar pasta pairing, and for good reason. I’ve theorised that a generous dose of truffle oil and a handful of black truffle shavings are the one-size-fits-all equivalent of elevating most dishes, and once again my hypothesis has hit the nail squarely on the head. Despite being vegan, it’s definitely a far cry from the ‘plain rabbit food’ stereotype I used to associate with plant-based meals.
I found that Sudouku’s Cold Mentsuyu Pasta (S$11) struggled to hold its own against the other two, which were decidedly more robust. The mentsuyu sauce didn’t survive the journey over either, resulting in a dry mee hoon type texture that made me wonder how much more I would’ve enjoyed this meal had it been prepared and eaten immediately. The mentsuyu was unfortunately forced to take a back seat, and the identical toppings on all three pasta dishes became repetitive and uninspiring. If variety is the spice of life, then life right now looks sorely under-seasoned.
The pasta is sold a la carte or in Pasta Sets (S$16), which comes with three side dishes of bean sprouts seasoned with sesame sauce, Japanese silken tofu with ponzu sauce, and pickled cherry tomatoes and shredded cabbage drizzled olive oil. Just a little tip, the ponzu sauce is good for dipping if you want to give your pasta an extra cold and refreshing kick. Like the toppings, the side dishes were palatable in a familiar way. You’ve eaten them more times than you can count, always when you’re looking forward to hearty Japanese fare. But it’s exactly because of that, that you know they won’t let you down at all.
The main obstacle that people struggle to overcome when committing to a plant-based, or even just a plant-heavy, diet is the preconception that it might taste lacklustre compared to a usual omnivore diet. I believe that it’s a delicate balance between making vegan dishes taste good and providing a healthy alternative that doesn’t break the bank. A complicated dance, but one that Sudouku spins, dips, and nails right to the ending pose. And who knows? If plant-based food tasted this good all the time, I might just convert to veganism.
Expected damage: S$11 – S$20 per pax
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