Saturday, May 27, 2006

Flavors of India by Nirvana

Tangy Potato Chat

I once got a flier to this place (61 Stamford Road #01-07, 6333-9479) not long ago that cited all sorts of lavish praise from the likes of the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times. The Australia Post apparently even called it the "World's Best Curry House." And the menu included North Indian kebabs, vindaloo, and even one chaat dish. With all that at stake, I knew I had to come check it out. It's an interesting place. On the ground floor they have an "Indian Bistro & Chai Bar," whatever that means. They took us up to the second floor though, which is billed as "fine dining" appropriate description given the posh decor.

Murg TandooriWhile they didn't have a full chaat menu, they did have a Tangy Potato Chat, which was decently good, even if it seemed a bit like an Indian version of potato salad. Then we got the Murg Tandoori, which wasn't quite a kebab like the waiter had told me, but nonetheless it was marinated in yogurt (ever since Bukhara left Singapore, I've been trying to find a yogurt-marinated kebab simlar to their murgh malai kebab). It was decently tender and tasty, even if it still wasn't Bukhara.

Lamb Vindaloo and Shahi Persian PilafFinally, we got a vindaloo and the Shahi Persian Pilaf, or saffron rice cooked with butter, fried onions, and orange peel. The vindaloo was disappointingly mild, but was admittedly still pretty exquisite. And while I didn't care to much for the sweet orange peel in the rice, it was fairly buttery and definitely rather sophisticated. On the drinks side, the lassi was probably one of the thickest that I've had (almost like a milkshake), while the Punjabi tea was probably the richest.

What's interesting is that this is the sister restaurant of Nirvana and Moti Mahal, and I suspect that all that press coverage is actually for one of those restaurants rather than this place (this one only opened in September). The waiter did say that there are some common menu items across these restaurants (it looks like they have some locations in Poland, Canada, and Brazil too?).

Anyway, this was all worth coming for. Even if not everything was exactly what I had hoped for, I can definitely see why this place got so much praise (and the decor here would make it worthy of a business fairly reasonable prices, I might add). I do plan to come by and try some of those dishes that the Wall Street Journal allegedly claimed to be "enough to bring a visitor back to Singapore": the Shan E-delhi and Noor Jahani, both in some kind of a cream sauce. I'm also hoping that their Dhal Makhni is like Bukhara's dhal with the ghee in the middle...mmm...


strawberryshortcake said...

heyz, i happened to stumble upon your blog and being a food lover-blogger myself, i really enjoyed reading your blog. Your varied and extensive reviews of food places make my food blogging seems so insignificant!

Anonymous said...

hey there, can I ask if you know Bukhara has reopened? It serves North Indian, buffet style right, meaning we get freshly baked naans and warm, precooked dishes in aluminium trays...right?

bma said...

No, ever since Clarke Quay started renovations, Bukhara has been nowhere to be seen in Singapore (someone please please correct me if I'm wrong as I'm desperately hoping that they will come back).

Bukhara was seriously one of the best restaurants I'd ever been to...period. It was considered "frontier" Indian, so there is what I understand to be a heavy Muglai/Arabic influence...hence, they are more into serving kebabs than curries. And no, no, no, they definitely did not do "warm precooked dishes in aluminum trays." (Oh God, no!) They did have a buffet, but that just meant a fixed price for all the things that you wanted to order, which would be served to you piping hot straight from the kitchen. My favorites from there were the murgh malai kebab and the dhal. (I wish I had some photos I could post - they closed before I started this blog.)

Unfortunately, the absence of Bukhara in Singapore means that you'd have to go to New Delhi (I think there are some in South Africa too?). I don't have any plans to go to either spot anytime soon, so if someone goes there, can you please bring some back for me? (I'm not joking - I'm told that their dhal is so unique and popular that they actually started canning the stuff!)

Dan said...

I heard Bukhara is going to open again in Clarke Quay. I heard this some time ago, so that may no longer be valid. As of now, there is still quite a bit of space not occupied in the central area (including their old space). Let's cross our fingers that it comes back, because, as you said, their lunch "a la carte" buffet was absolutely outstanding, and I think it was only $14???

sunki said...

Hmm . . . this all sounds a bit fishy. The original Bukhara and Moti Mahal in Delhi are, as far as I know, not associated with one another. So it is not clear the Singapore outfit acquired both names. Was the "World's best Curry House" award really given the Singapore restaurants, or to the original Bukhara?

bma said...

I think you've misunderstood. There is no tie between Bukhara and Moti Mahal, and the reference to the World's Best Curry was in reference to the latter (or at least, Flavors of India, which *does* have a relation to Moti Mahal).

The only reason why Bukhara came up was because I was making a comparison to its food. No association is implied here at all.