Muthu's Curry Reviews
Feb 07, 2008
Look, I have no idea what "authentic" Indian food tastes like. How would I know? I've never been to India. And unless you've been to India and eaten in a private home, you probably don't know either. But I'm pretty sure I know what tastes good, and that's curry. I'm easy. There are very few curries I've ever had anywhere that I didn't like. Even the bad ones have been good. I've been to "Indian" restaurants in the US, UK, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Without question the best ones have been in Singapore. That's why on my most recent trip to the Lion City, I had barely checked into my hotel before I was in a cab on my way to Muthu's Curry in Little India.
The hotel concierge recommended the place as the best "South Indian" food in town along with Banana Leaf (which has already been reviewed on Travbuddy). The concierge was Indian, so I felt like I was in good hands. My Chinese cab driver warned me to be careful in Little India. "Watch out for the Bengalis" he said, "many many construction workers". Lighten up dude, it's Singapore. You could make an argument the place is actually too safe. I've always noticed more than a little mistrust between the Indians and Chinese. Saw it a lot in Hong Kong. More on that later.
Anyway, the driver deposited me on Racecourse Road, a strip pretty much synonymous with curry. Many a sunburned westerner have exited those curry houses sweating, tongue wagging, clothes stained with tikka masala and Tiger beer. I planned to be no different.
The restaurant itself was modern, clean, gleaming in fact - even by Singapore standards. Does it make sense for me to be disappointed by a restaurant being too clean? The waiters had PDAs, where they type in your order. That order gets sent wirelessly to a computer monitor in the kitchen where the cook prepares your order from one of many steaming pots of ready-made curry. Singapore, and Muthu's in particular is known for fish head curry. It's literally a pot of curry with a whole fish head sitting in the middle. Sound appetizing? I would've ordered it except I was eating alone so there is no way I could finish. Instead I ordered plain old fish curry along with some mutton and onion naan. Wash that down with a Tiger beer (or five) and I was in curry heaven.
The food was definitely tasty. The flavors just popped. In most curries I've had, the spices just blend together into something that basically becomes its own spice. This was different, you could taste the individual ingredients of the curry. A little garlic, a little cumin, and little chili. It was all there in a nice balance. The fish (snapper I think) was tender, and the mutton fell straight off the bone. There were no plates, you ate straight off of a banana leaf. I sopped up every last of drop of curry with the naan and found myself completely stuffed. Between the jet lag, Tigers, and mouth-numbing spices, I needed to head back.
As I staggered out, I saw a first in any Indian restaurant I've been to: a Chinese waitress. There's a joke among expats in Hong Kong that there was once a chinese waiter at an Indian restaurant that told the customers not to order anything because Indian food was all bad. It's probably not true, but it strikes people as funny because it sounds like it could be true. A lot of the Chinese I know aren't big on Indian food. It's too heavy, too spicy, too sloppy, cooked forever and ever. That's fine by me. But I'll credit Muthu's with not discriminating in their hiring practices. I'll also credit them with keeping the prices reasonable. Only cost me around $15 for the whole meal including beers and I was completely full. Later that week, I found another Muthu's in Suntec City where our office was. So I went back and had it again for lunch. It would be tough to work in that office without gaining 50 lbs.
Was it authentic? I really don't know. My guess is no. But it tasted good.
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