When the fancy for something hot and spicy Indian style comes to us, we usually head for Race Course Road. The stretch of this road close to Tekka Market in Little India is full of Indian restaurants. Tourists make a beeline for Muthu's Fish Head Curry and Banana Leaf Apollo, which is good enough reason why I avoid these outlets. Seriously, they are very over-rated, because they use too much MSG and almost always overcook the fish. Instead, we like to poke around the neighbourhood and try the competition.
There's Andhra's Spice, opened a few months ago and located towards the end of the road. The restaurant was empty on our visit. The first floor (in Singapore we have no ground floor, we have Basement Level, First Floor, Second Floor.....) was too extravagantly perfumed for me, so we ate on the second level which was quieter and fresher-smelling . While eating our food, the power blacked out. Oops is it because they opened the second floor for us, switching on lights and air-conditioners? But the food we tried, our default orders of naan, tandoori and aloo gobi (potato and cauliflower), was tasty enough and reasonably priced.
We've also tried Spice Mela, and should have known better. It is operated by the people behind Apollo Leaf, and the food is mediocre and rather expensive. The aloo gobi seemed to be doused in ketchup (gross!), and the tandoori short on the taste of spices and yoghurt. The Punjabi dhal though, was a new discovery, the lentils were well cooked in a mildly spiced creamy sauce, this is rich comforting food indeed.
Our Makan Shop is a curious anomaly in that it is run by Chinese operators. The decor is original and genuinely retro, circa 1970s, and the place feels really down-to-earth. The proprieters are friendly and laid back. We love the squid cooked in black ink and the spicy fried chicken. However, the fish head curry is nothing to shout about. Really it quite impossible to find a good curry fish head in Race Course Road.
And for those looking for cheap and good food, they have to try Jaggi's. It is not really a restaurant, because there is no wait staff or fancy napkins, everything is self-serviced. But they have air-con, and the usual fixtures like the Bollywood music video*, water station and a prominent double sink to wash your hands. The food is really cheap, our dinner of keema (minced mutton), aloo gobi and chickpeas with a piece each of plain naan and chapati and a cup of tea, cost us only $9.40.
After eating, I like to check out what's new at Aussimart, a small convenience store that stocks certain exotic stuff like Fray Bentos Steak and Kidney pies, Arnotts biscuits and other uniquely Australian foodstuffs. The owner is really chatty and he recommended his favourite restaurants around the neighbourhood- Jaggi's, Gandhi's just behind, and surprisingly he is also keen on the fish head curry at Chinese-run Soon Heng further up the road.
Note: Our Makan Shop and Soon Heng is only open for lunch.
*Bollywood music videos- I am fascinated by them. The dances look easy but must have taken quite some time to master, taking its inspiration from classical Indian and Middle Eastern moves, but pumping it up with disco beats and plenty of dramatics.