This new-ish modern grill restaurant has taken Indian food to a whole new level with a Mod-Indian fusion menu that showcases creative interpretations of Indian flavours from the Malay Peninsula. Spearheaded by Chef Mano Thevar (who worked at Waku Ghin and Pure C in The Netherlands), the menu is reflective of his heritage growing up in the port town of Penang and is designed specifically to be shared with your family or friends.
Expect delights that are inspired by his grandmother, including oysters topped with punchy spicy-salty rasam granita, pork cheek cooked in sambar spices and wrapped in a betel leaf, and homemade dosai stuffed with spiced mackerel fillet. Basically, everything is jam packed with traditional spices. It’s all delicious and well worth the cost of each dish.
Thevar is at 9 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089117, tel: 6904 0838.
2. Banana Leaf Apolo
One of the most popular restaurants in Little India, the bustling spot is always brimming with hungry foodies. We love that meals are served in a traditional manner — on a banana leaf instead of a plate. Take your pick from their extensive menu, which range from curries to masala dishes, sambal options, tikka, tandoori, paneer and dhall. Both North and South cuisine are available. The Apolo Fish Head Curry, which is made from scratch with authentic indian spices and herbs and served with assorted vegetables such Okra, Tomato and Eggplants, is an absolute popular favourite at this place. Mouthwateringly good, it comes highly recommended. Banana Leaf Apolo also has a swankier, quieter and more upmarket outlet over at Parkway Parade if you want to dine in comfort.
Banana Leaf Apolo is at 54 Race Course Road, Singapore 218564, tel: 6293 8682.
3. Samy’s Curry Restaurant
A family-run favourite since the 1960’s, Samy’s Curry restaurant is a multi-award winning curry house set in the lush greenery of tranquil Dempsey. If Trip Advisor awards this place a certificate of excellence three years in a row, you know you will not be disappointed with their offerings. Their legendary masala chicken, signature fish head curry and mysore mutton made from their secret blend of Indian spices are firm favourites, not to mention their flavourful biryani rice. Food is also served on a banana leaf so you can be sure the experience is authentic.
Samy’s Curry is at 25 Dempsey Road, Singapore 249670, tel: 6472 2080.
4. A1 Restaurant
Established in 1970, this restaurant proudly specialises in Chettinad foods, all served on traditional banana leaf. They pride themselves on having mastered the art of using spice to deliver a delicious and gastronomic experience. Enjoy the likes of sambal fish, chilli crab, mutton ribs, quail’s eggs and masala chicken, to name but a few. The ambience is nothing fancy, but the food is stellar.
A1 Restaurant is at 17 Birch Road, Singapore 219886, tel: 6294 8590.
5. Karu’s Indian Banana Leaf Restaurant
The Fish Head King logo should give you a clue to what this establishment is known for. Its fish head curry is cooked with traditional methods using spices sourced from India, and with tender flesh that melts off the bone and a lemak curry, it’s a spectacular dish that needs no introduction. We’re told it gets two thumbs up from anyone who has tried it. There are also other South and North Indian dishes available as well as tandoori, so you’ll want for nothing and leave feeling satisfied. Remember to wash your meal down with some masala tea. Previously at Upper Bukit Timah road for 23 years, the restaurant, which opened in 1993, is now at Dunearn Road. But fans will be delighted to know that it is moving back to its old premises (808 Upper Bukit Timah Road) in June.
Karu’s Indian Banana Leaf Restaurant is at #05-01 Sime Darby Centre, 896 Dunearn Road, Singapore 589472, tel: 6762 7284.
6. Omar Shariff Authentic Indian Cuisine
This 23-year-old eatery was named a Heritage Restaurant by the Singapore Restaurant Festival in 2017, so you can be assured that it knows what it’s doing. Enjoy tandoori chicken and prawns from its tandoori oven, or sink your teeth in its flavoursome and slightly-sweet butter chicken chunks. The Rojan Josh was a delightfully tender mutton dish that had just the right measure of spices, or you could go for the fish tikka, vindaloo and more. Vegetarian options are available too.
Omar Shariff Authentic Indian Cuisine is at 805 Bukit Timah Road, #01-02 Sixth Avenue Center, Singapore 279883, tel: 6466 7318 or 9151 0015.
7. Muthu’s Curry
Opened in 1969 by the late Mr Ayyakkannu, Muthu’s Curry is known for its Fish Head Curry in South Indian Style, created by Mr Ayyakkannu himself. Served with juicy okra and pineapple chunks in a rich gravy, the fish served is seasonal, but all share the same traits — soft, juicy flesh in a to-die-for broth. The restaurant has tried to maintain its focus on the traditional cuisine from Chettinadu, and prides itself on whipping up delicious and memorable dishes with the freshest seafood, succulent meats and aromatic spices. Other must-tries include the Hyderabadi Dum Biryani (available only on weekends and public holidays) which serves fresh tender lamb with aromatic long grained Basmati rice, and Masala Chicken cooked in a thick and hearty spicy sauce.
Muthu’s Curry is at #01-01, 138 Race Course Road, Singapore 218591, tel: 6392 1722 and two other outlets.
8. Flying Monkey
If you like quirky, funky and soulful kind of venues, you’ll love Flying Monkey. A restaurant and bar that specialises in cocktails to match their spicy food, treat yourselves here to their authentic Pan-Indian cuisine. We love the fact they offer small plates, tapas-style, so you can try a variety of dishes and share nibbles with friends. Don’t fret if you’re a big eater, there are large plates which come with rice or roti that you can have all to yourself. Expect fresh and deliciously charred food, such as the Lamb Barra (lamb chops), Chilli Chicken cubes and Tandoori Pomfret. You can find Indian spices even in their drinks. The signature “The Flying Monkey” cocktail, for example, consists of monkey shoulder whiskey, cognac, bitters, tamarind, orgeat and lemon. No monkey business here!
Flying Monkey is at 67 Bussorah Street, Singapore 199480, tel: 6291 0695.
9. Table By Rang Mahal
It might be well-hidden in Naumi Hotel by the sister restaurant of the posher Rang Mahal is popular among the curry connoisseurs — and that says a lot. Here, North Indian nosh is presented with a contemporary touch. We love the paneer makhni, a velvety tomato cashew curry with Indian cottage cheese. The executive set lunch, at $20++, is bento set of favourites that won’t break the bank.
Table By Rang Mahal is at 41 Seah Street, Naumi Hotel Singapore, Singapore 188396, tel: 6403 6005.
10. Mr And Mrs Moghan's Super Crispy Roti Prata
Roti prata is every Singaporean’s favourite food — we have it for breakfast, as a late night snack, basically, whenever. And we’re not the only ones who think that Moghans does one of the best pratas in Singapore.
The eatery’s name sells itself — that’s one way of doing it — their pratas are super crispy even the plain ones are good enough to savour on their own without any curry dips.
Mr And Mrs Moghan’s Super Crispy Roti Prata is at 300 Joo Chiat Road, Tin Yeang Restaurant, Singapore 427551, tel: 9794 3124.
If there’s one way to describe Maziga, it would be happening (plus they’re located in party central Clarke Quay). Their limitless experimentation is certainly paying off, with so much going on in each dish.
Naans are made into pizzas and traditional kebabs are reinvented as burgers. Indian flavours are incorporated iinto various dishes like crispy soft shell crab or amritsar fish and chips. This one restaurant you’ll have to try for yourself.
Maziga is at 3 River Valley Road, Singapore 179024, tel: 6337 3292.
12. Zaffron Kitchen
One of the Bib Gourmand awardees in the 2016 Michelin Guide Singapore, Zaffron Kitchen dishes out every dialect of varied Indian cuisine and none disappoint.
The food here packs a punch (just look at how intensely marinated the meats are!) but thankfully, they’re not tongue-numbingly spicy. One of our favourites, the fish tikka, made with salmon for a more unique texture that works perfectly with the innovative Indian flavours.
Zaffron Kitchen is at 137 East Coast Road, Singapore 428820, tel: 6440 6786.
At Yantra, every dish is a history book on a plate. But that’s not to say it hasn’t been keeping up with the modern palate — the old and new are so seamlessly fused together in their inventive fare, from chicken tikka fondue to tandoori avocado.
Clearly, much thought went into their desserts as well, from gulab jamun tiramisu, a coffee flavoured milk dumpling in a cheesecake, to their unique take on a chocolate bombe, indian ice cream encased in a chocolate dome.
Yantra is at #01-28/33 Tanglin Mall, 163 Tanglin Road, Singapore 247933, tel: 6836 3088.
14. Shahi Maharani North Indian Restaurant
Soothing live music and a decor reminiscent of the royal palaces surround you during your meal, and they’ve got equally impressive food to match, too. The menu is extensive — dishes are laid out in categories like royal seafood specialities and garden fresh vegetables from the royal fields. Food fit for royalty? We think so! And of course not forgetting the wines.
Shahi Maharani North Indian Restaurant is at #03-21B Raffles City Centre, 252 North Bridge Road, Singapore 179103, tel: 6235 8840.
Text: Nicola Watson, Joy Fang and Pinky Chng/The Finder
This post was updated on May 2, 2019.