Tucked in the Dempsey enclave, La Salsa is a restaurant that offers Latin vibes all round, from its food to carefully crafted cocktails spanning South American cuisines. What makes things even better is that La Salsa has a special focus on being vegetarian-friendly. Running in its 10th year now, La Salsa has always been a venue for casual yet chic dining for anyone wanting to experience a cosy evening with family or friends; and on the weekends you’ll find various local artistes serenading patrons with eclectic Latin renditions and popular hits.
When we heard about their huge veg-friendly factor, we could not resist a trip down for lunch. What’s more is the fact that their head chef has been on a veggie-spree, creating delectable vegetarian meals with an authentic Latin twist, aimed towards pleasing both the veg and non-veg alike. Although we couldn’t try too many dishes, the restaurant does serve a huge array of vegetarian selections, with several vegan dishes on offer too.
We started off with Sopas (soups) and Antojitos (appetisers). The Sopa de Frijoles is a traditional Honduran black bean soup in a thick tomato base (done with fresh tomatoes not canned) and is topped with avocado and cotija cheese. Morano chillis give the soup a slight smoky flavour and a not-so-slight spicy factor. The cheese can be omitted upon request to make the soup vegan.
Queso Fundido ($19++) is a dish of Mozzarella cheese balls in tomatillo sauce with corn chips. The presentation is gorgeous and the Fundido is brought to your table sizzling. The cheese is a bit chewy and while my dining partner found the tomatillo sauce to be a tad too tangy, I absolutely loved it. We were told that this is one of their most popular dishes.
Alongside the appetisers, we sipped on a Spiced Tamarind Margarita, which didn’t fare too well with us (I thought it would do better without the chilli flakes) and La Copa de La Salsa which was a hit accross the table.
Moving on to Platos Principales aka Mains and Arepas Vegetales Asados (S$28++) was the winning dish of the meal. Arepas is a cornmeal flat-bread popular in Colombia and Venezuela. The star of this dish though are not the arepas but the Vegetales Asados aka Roasted Vegetables. The veggies for this dish are marinated every morning with spices and just a tiny bit of La Salsa’s secret verde sauce. The vegetables are drenched in more sauce just before they’re fire roasted, giving them a robust flavour and so they can maintain their crunch. The dish is served with home-made chimichurri sauce which is absolutely delicious. The arepas are filled with cheese, making the dish unsuitable for vegans. I highly recommend this dish, if you’re vegan, ask for the arepas to be replaced by corn tortillas or such.
Flautas de Frijoles (S$24++) are deep-fried tortillas stuffed with grilled veggies, refried beans and cilantro; and covered with tomatillo sauce, cotija cheese and pico de gallo. The dish is served with Mexican rice and fresh tomato salsa on the side. The Flautas can be done vegan upon request by removing the cotija cheese topping.
VERDICT & VEGAN DISHES
Overall a great veg meal. I was quite impressed by the fact that they’re also happy to customise dishes to be vegan where possible. Some of the dishes that can be made vegan upon request by simply omitting the cotija cheese topping/ingredient are Sopa de Frijoles, Ensalada de Mazana, Flautas de Frijoles and Hongos Portobello Asados. Vegetale Mixtos and Fajitas can be done vegan by substituting the shell with corn tortillas. Other dishes that are either vegan or can be customized as such include La Salsa & Chips, Jalapeños Rellenos (Poppers), Ceviche de Vegetale, Mofongo and Salteado con Arroz Rojo.