My girlfriends and I decided to take an excursion to Little India the other day. Besides an increased cultural awareness and a trip to Mustafa, I’m glad to report that we’ve unearthed a few hidden finds, off the beaten track. Nestled among the vegetarian curry restaurants and goldsmiths, are a few chic western eateries that have chosen to settle in Little India. It’s no secret that the nearby Jalan Besar is currently making waves in the hipster scene, and it looks like the waves have spread here.
I’ve lived in Singapore all my life but this was the first time I’ve ever visited that area on purpose. If you are Chinese like me, you will definitely be among the minority, which can be disorientating. The whole experience is just not something we are used to. I can’t decide whether the arrival of hipsters in Little India will dilute the culture or bring attention to it. But I think they should leave Little India be… Hipsters are a meddlesome bunch.
5 Hindoo Road
The first cafe we visited was Steam Sia, local slang for something hot and sizzly, most often used in sexual contexts. I don’t understand why they would choose to name their cafe as such, besides that it is local-themed, otherwise the name is completely irrelevant. As I said, the cafe follows a very vintage Singapore theme throughout, with vintage posters, furniture, and collectibles used as decor. The whole cafe is modeled after a flat from the 60s, with a ‘living room’, ‘dining room’, etc.
I get where they are going with decor, and I can understand their vision, but the execution was plain poor. What could have been quirky and cool turned out to be old and ugly. The cafe was also poorly lit, which made the place seem even more dingy.
The food though, was a pleasant surprise! I had a Tom Yam Seafood Spaghetti and even though it tasted more like Assam than Tom Yam, it was still a really good pasta with juicy prawns ($16). The other food items on the menu were similarly fusion styles, or classic nonya food like curry, fried rice, etc. They all looked good, and I don’t doubt the food standards at this place, just the questionable decor.
107 Rowell Road
This place is beautiful, has a great concept, but sadly isn’t drawing in any crowds at all. During our visit, only two other tables were occupied and the staff outnumbered the customers. I think they serve Australian food, mostly meat dishes, and it is very music focused. They have a DJ deck, and have open deck nights every Thursday. We were there on a Thursday, but only crickets were manning the decks *silence*. They have headphones at every table too, and have their special menu in a DVD box. There is also a vinyl shop within the restaurant, that sells records. What I loved the most was the menu, because it is presented in a namecard holder booklet, and each slot is filled with a ‘namecard’ with a food item on it. Interesting! The graffiti mural outside the restaurant is also pretty cool.
Foodwise, nothing to shout about. The banana + black glutinous rice sounded so good on paper, but was only ‘meh’ when it came, and definitely not worth $14. The peach jelly sake was also a waste of my money, I was drinking syrup.
Do you know any other places worth checking out around Little India? Apparently Komalas, the Indian fast food chain, is amazing!