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Dempsey, an area obviously developed without any consideration for the needs of those without cars, has an uppity vibe that I'm not fond of. Which is why the interior of Samy's - well ventilated and unpretentious - came as a surprise. A quick scan of the menu revealed that prices were reasonable, so that gave us free rein to do that overordering thing. The two of us opted for briyani over white rice (duh), one fish head curry turned into three protein-based dishes, and of course we had to get a coconut each to quell the spicy.
Briyani Rice, $3.60 - The chickpea-laden basmati rice, tinted yellow and orange with saffron, was fluffy and smelt of star anise and lemongrass. It was good, especially with the creamy dal and lightly spiced fried potatoes, but just shy of brilliant.
Fish Head Curry, $20.00 for a small portion - As the dish was served steaming hot and the curry had numbed my tongue, I wasn't sure how the fish actually tasted at first. Having been cooked together with the curry, the fish head here was less tender than what one would find in a typical Chinese fish head curry. It was only when the curry had cooled down to near-room temperature that we detected a slightly fishy odour when eating the flesh, which indicated that the angkoli used here wasn't all that fresh.
Mysore Mutton (dry), $10 for small portion - Although it shouldn't be a good thing, we were quite relieved when the serving of Mysore mutton turned out to be tiny. Our opinions on this dish were divided. My friend complained that the mutton was dry and tough. I have to agree that the meat could be more tender, but I really enjoyed the aromatic dry curry paste that the mutton had been cloaked in. Consisting of mutton stock fried with (what else but) a whole load of spices and herbs, including powdered turmeric, coriander, fenugreek seeds, cardamom and chilli, the marinade was intense and permeated the mutton thoroughly, and the meat bore no trace of its signature gamey smell. Now I'm curious to try the wet version of this dish - perhaps that would solve the dryness problem?
Masala Chicken, $5.00 a piece - What we could agree on was that the masala chicken here was outstanding. Marinated with - you guessed it - too many spices to list, the chicken here was moist and flavourful. There were notes of paprika, garlic, ginger, tomato, cumin, and curry leaves. Flavourful might be putting it lightly; this was a flavour-bomb and an absolute marvel. We threw caution (along with our distended bellies) to the wind and scraped all the meat off the bones.
Judging from the numerous tourists we saw in the restaurant, Samy's Curry is the place to go if you're looking to give your foreign friends a 101 on Indian cuisine. Service is quick without being brusque, and the food's above average. You can pop by one of the neighbouring establishments for after-meal drinks as well.