From Peranakan food, laksa, chicken rice to wagyu beef and chocolate dessert…you name it, Katong has it all.
Now, joining the ever-growing Katong food enclave is Zaffron Kitchen, a hip Indian restaurant that resembles a French Bistro. The restaurant is decked in shades of orange, grey and brown with soft lighting, colourful bistro-style tables and chairs and an alfresco dining area. Step into Zaffron Kitchen and the five-foot-way of Katong gives way to the fragrant spices and aromatic flavours of South Asia from the semi-open kitchen near the entrance. Chill-out music plays in the background as you dine, providing a gentle serenade to your meal.
Dining with the kids - not to worry, as Zaffron has a kid’s menu where they get to pick what they want using a sticker order card. You can also leave them at the play corner so you can enjoy your meal in peace. There’s even a thoughtfully designed washroom for the little ones and a nursing room.
Zaffron Kitchen's interior
We started our meal with a refreshing glass of homemade lassi ($4.50-$5). There’s a choice of salted, sweet, mango, strawberry and banana flavours. The lassi was smooth, thick and packed with seductive flavours. However, there were so much ice cubes in ours that the drink became diluted after a while. You might want to ask for less ice to be added if you order the drink.
For starters, we had the black pepper papadum ($4) and papdi chaat ($6). Served alongside mango chutney and mint sauces, the papadum was crispy and addictive, and went very well with the sweet mango chutney. The papdi chaat, a popular street food from North India, is another mouth-watering snack. It was homemade fried dough wafers topped with a tasty mixture of sev (vermicelli-like crisps), sweet yogurt, mint and tamarind sauce.
For the mains, the Zaffron tandoori platter ($38) and dum chicken biryani ($10.50) are not to be missed. The tandoori platter came with a generous serving of chicken and fish tikka, malai tikka, murg pudina and mutton kebab. The meats were well marinated in spices and were incredibly moist and tender, infused with flavours throughout. There’s also a vegetarian tandoori platter ($28) for non-meat eaters.
Zaffron tandoori platter
Another value for money dish is the South Indian specialty, dum chicken biryani. The biryani was perfectly cooked in authentic dum-style with mildly spiced basmati rice, a well-marinated chicken thigh and a hard-boiled egg. To contain the flavours within and keep the rice warm, the chef sealed the dish with a lightly baked dough, which also serves to give diners a surprise when they dig into the dough-sealed biryani. Together with the korma or curry, the dish was filled with the wonderful flavours of spices.
Dum chicken biryani
If you have a sweet tooth, try Zaffron Kitchen’s rendition of a classic warm Indian dessert, mong dal halwa ($9). This rich, delicious dessert uses a main ingredient normally associated with savoury dishes - lentils. You could never tell from the taste though! Served warm with crushed pistachios and a generous scoop of Ben & Jerry’s vanilla ice cream, this melt-in-your mouth dessert was divine and sinful at the same time. For a less sweet version, I would recommend the gajar ka halwa ($9), which is made from carrot and milk.
Gajar ka halwa (top) and mong dal halwa (bottom)
The food at Zaffron Kitchen was excellent, with a good variety of vegetarian and meat offerings. Prices were also reasonable and the service was good. However, we wished that the dishes were spicier. If you love spicy food and are looking to experience the kick of Indian food, you will likely be disappointed by Zaffron. However, if you are in a mood to enjoy mildly spicy Indian food in a good-looking place, then Zaffron Kitchen is an excellent choice.
135/137 East Coast Road
Opening hours: 11:30am - 10:30pm (Tuesday to Sunday). Closed on Mondays.
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