Is there anything Mustafa hasn’t covered? From a giant retail mall, it has expanded into travel services, moneychanger business…and there was even a mini car mart at one point. Recently, a 400-seater restaurant called Kebabs ‘n Curries opened at the rooftop of Mustafa’s spanking new wing.
As you amble through the sprawling restaurant space looking for the perfect spot to park yourself and your shopping cart, you’ll see fountain features and green corners all around, which call to mind Orchard Central’s rooftop landscaped garden deck. At the centre of the restaurant is an imposing glass dome. Amid the constant shopping frenzy on the other floors, Kebabs ‘n Curries is a sanctuary of calm, especially on weekdays when it doesn’t get too crowded.
Kebabs ‘n Curries interior
The menu is quite an epic list of South Asian specialties and a smattering of “Chindian” dishes (Indian-style Chinese cooking). Here’s one restaurant you can enjoy a Maharajah-worthy spread without the fine-dining prices (mains are priced below $10 and a cup of masala chai here costs just $1.20).
Forget the usual papadams. Dig into chaats ($4 to $4.50) or Indian street snacks to start off. Go for perennial faves such as papri chaat (crisp crackers topped with boiled potatoes, chickpeas and chillies and doused in yoghurt with lashings of tamarind chutney) or samosa chaat (triangular samosas halved and blanketed in the same yoghurt dressing). The chaats were almost authentic but we would have preferred more yoghurt for a richer, zestier taste.
The tandoori meats (from $7.90) were very well done. The malai murgh kebab (juicy chunks of chicken marinated with cream and spices) was moist with an aromatic chargrilled flavour. The mains feature cuisine from different parts of India and a few specialties from Pakistan. The methi fish ($7.40) was the highlight among the mains we ordered. Its gravy luscious, accented with kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves), is sure to call for a second helping of rice or freshly baked naan. However, the prawn malai curry ($9), supposedly a Bengali dish, did not impress like the fish. The gravy lacked oomph with no distinct flavour of fresh prawns.
We’d recommend that you veer a little away from the Indian dishes and order the chicken achari handi ($7.90) from the Pakistani list of specialties. A dry curry, this boneless chicken dish gets its punch from the sliced green chillies and lime juice. The mutton rogan josh ($8.40), a popular dish from the North, is also worth trying. It did not have a heavy mutton flavour and the cubes of meat were tender.
Malai murgh kebab
We also ordered the dum biryani ($8.80-$9.90), which wasn’t exactly “dum” as stated in the menu. The dum method calls for the biryani to be cooked in a brass pot under high pressure, but both the Hyderabadi mutton and Lucknowi chicken biryani - though quite tasty and generous in portion - were not done that way and came served in bowls. However, a wait staff told us that authentic dum biryani will be available soon.
Kebabs ‘n Curries brings eating out in Little India to a new sophisticated level with its rooftop-dining concept, but it has to tweak and perfect some of the dishes before it can be taken seriously as a gourmet destination.
Rating: Food: 3/5; Value: 3.5/5; Ambience: 4/5; Service: 4/5
Level 7 (rooftop), Mustafa Centre (new extension)
171 Syed Alwi Road
Tel: 6419 0749
Open: Daily: 11am-1am