From The Straits Times Archives: Best tandoori chicken in town at Song Of India

Tandoori chicken from Song of India.
Tandoori chicken from Song of India.PHOTO: ST FILE

This story was first published in The Sunday Times on Apr 30, 2006. 

No Indian restaurant opening here has been awaited as eagerly among foodies as that of The Song Of India in Scotts Road.

That is because its director of cuisine, Milind Sovani, is widely considered to be the best North Indian chef in Singapore. He is the man behind the excellent modern Indian cooking at Rang Mahal, which he left early this year to set up the new restaurant.

So expectations were high, especially since The Song Of India has been touted months before its opening as a fine-dining restaurant that will set new standards for Indian eateries here.

  • THE SONG OF INDIA

  • 33 Scotts Road, tel: 6836-0055

    Open: Noon to 2.30pm, 6 to 10.15pm

    Food: **** 1/2

    Service: **** 

    Ambience: ****

    Price: Budget about $80 to $100 per person without wines

It was a promise that was fulfilled when it finally threw its doors open. For starters, its opening party, like one of those lavish weddings in India, was a three-day affair that lasted from April 15 to 17.

And what the guests saw was impressive. Everything about the restaurant is designed to be a notch above the competition.

Set in one of the black-and-white bungalows in Scotts Road, it is a combination of lavishness and good taste. 

While daylight allows you to enjoy the foliage surrounding the building, it is in the evening that the restaurant shows its best face, when chandeliers and mood lighting combine to cast an air of romance on the whole place.

Service is commendable too, with well-trained staff and complimentary car valet.

But it is the food that impresses most and which will make this one of the top Indian restaurants in town.

Chef Milind is known for his modern take on Indian cooking where he employs unconventional ingredients such as foie gras and portobello in classic recipes.

But the flavours are unmistakably Indian. The only fusion dishes he allows in his restaurant are among the desserts, where there is an Italian panna cotta with a hint of cardamom ($12) and a choco chikki torte ($12), which is chocolate mixed with an Indian dried fruit nougat.

The cooking is characterised by full, well-balanced flavours without being overpowered by any spices.

Even classic Indian desserts such as gulab jamun (pistachio and saffron dumplings, $12) and gajar halwa (carrot pudding, $12) are less sweetened than those at other restaurants, allowing the rich nut and milk flavours to reveal themselves.

The tandoor items, which come from a show kitchen, are a highlight here. I had a delicious lahsooni jhinga (jumbo prawn stuffed with spiced crayfish and shrimps, $30 for two prawns) that is firm and crunchy and well-flavoured with a garlicky marinade.

And the tandoori chicken ($23 for half a bird) is one of the best you can find anywhere.

There is also a wide selection of vegetarian dishes to choose from, including classics like palak paneer (spinach and cottage cheese, $21) as well as unusual creations like the delicious harra subz (spinach, edamame and asparagus cooked with organic herbs and spices, $20).

Early word had it, too, that The Song Of India would not be cheap, and it does not fail to live up to that promise either. Expect to pay at least $80 per person, which is certainly a lot for an Indian meal.

If you order any wine, which the restaurant stocks a good selection of, you are not likely to leave the table without a tab of more than $100 per head.

But compared to a dinner at a fine-dining Western or Japanese restaurant, it is a decent price.

And this restaurant is so good that you won’t be likely to make a song and dance about paying for the experience. 

33 Scotts Road, tel: 6836-0055

Open: Noon to 2.30pm, 6 to 10.15pm

Food: **** 1/2

Service: **** 

Ambience: ****

Price: Budget about $80 to $100 per person without wines