With the opening of Saha in January, the National Gallery Singapore has completed its collection of restaurants - one that is curated to showcase a variety of cuisines and concepts that range from Chinese to Italian and casual to fine dining.
Saha is a modern North Indian restaurant that has moved from Duxton Hill. It had been sharing space with Russian restaurant Buyan since June 2014 by taking up the second floor of the shophouse.
Now it has its own corner on the gallery's ground floor and is more spacious, with a semi-private room walled off with a glass wine cellar. But some of the decorative items for the restaurant have not arrived yet and the dining room looks a little bare.
So the focus for now is squarely on the food.
The concept remains the same as before the move, with traditional North Indian dishes updated with ingredients such as duck and seabass that are seldom seen in Indian restaurants in Singapore.
The menu is designed by India- based chef Abhijit Saha and features dishes that combine Indian and Western cooking.
1 Saint Andrew's Road, National Gallery Singapore, 01-03 (Supreme Court Wing)
open: noon to 3pm (Monday to Friday), 6 to 11pm (Monday to Saturday), closed on Sunday and public holiday
Food: 4 stars
Service: 3 stars
Ambience: 3 stars
Price: Budget about $100 a person, without drinks
An example is the Kasoori Methi Seared Foie Gras ($36), which has two pieces of seared foie gras dusted with fenugreek powder served in a lukewarm, emerald- coloured broth that is appetisingly sour. A scoop of mango salsa sits on top of the foie gras and slices of stewed mango and a frothy mango panna foam completes the dish.
Tastewise, it is a balanced dish as the spices do not overwhelm the liver and the mango's acidity cuts the fat. But the foie gras is a tad overcooked.
The Kaffir Lime-Flavoured Tandoori Salmon ($32) boasts a stronger Indian flavour, with its marinade of spices and a sharp tang from the lime juice. But it works here, as salmon has a distinctive oily flavour that can stand up to the spice.
Some of the dishes are plated as Western-style main courses, such as the Pan Seared Kokum & Pepper Duck Breast ($38). Kokum is a bright red berry, which turns the sauce a pretty pink to match the rosy hue of the perfectly seared duck.
Not much spice is used here, other than pepper, and the result comes across more Western than Indian, especially with the apple relish, pieces of potato and baby vegetables in the plating. But that is no criticism as it is a well-executed dish.
My favourite, however, is Interpretation Of Meen Moily ($35). Meen moily is a Kerala fish curry, but here, the seabass is dusted with turmeric and grilled instead. It is served with tomato chutney and turmeric rice, with a glass of savoury coconut and curry leaf pannacotta on the side.
The pannacotta is too mild to make an impression, but the seabass is aromatic and moist.
It is much better than the Goan Prawn Curry ($35), which is very watery and lacks aroma. That means it is lighter than most curries though.
The dessert I order, Baked Gulab Jamun Cheesecake ($16), has been on the menu since 2014. But I like it more now as the gulab jamun - though still not as sweet as the traditional dessert - has a more distinct syrupy character. The balls, which are made with milk solids, line the bottom of the cake and go very well with the cheese.
The other dessert I try, Frozen Chocolate Ganache Powder ($18), is enjoyable because of its varied textures of chocolate, but the flavours of the saffron soil and mint soil are not evident.
While I enjoy the meal at Saha, what strikes me is that the use of foams and "soils" makes the dishes here look dated. These techniques might have been cutting edge a decade ago, but culinary trends have moved on. And Saha should too.
Follow Wong Ah Yoke on Twitter @STahyoke
The Sunday Times paid for its meals at the eateries reviewed here.
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