Sama Curry & Cafe, Downtown Gallery: First in Singapore to Serve Japanese Curry Soups With 30 Levels of Spiciness

On the Saturday we visited Downtown Gallery, only two restaurants were opened: Sama Curry & Cafe, and Venue by Sebastian. Since we already dined at Venue, we settled for Sama, which boasts to be the first in Singapore to “serve authentic Japanese soup curry” (facebook, cited on 23 Jun).

Not really sure what they mean by “authentic Japanese” but when we were there, one of our onsen eggs had only a quarter yolk. If you’ve been to Japan, you’d know that no authentic Japanese restaurants would serve it.

But as Sound of Music says, “Let’s start from the very beginning, a very good place to start,” we should relate our experience chronologically.

It works like a fast-food chain: you order at the counter and take a seat to wait for your food. Here is how you order:
(1) choose your meat first (chicken thigh, seafood, pork slices, hamburg, etc)
(2) choose your spicy level from 0 to 30
(3) choose your soup base. There are 4: tomato, coconut, Japanese, shrimp.

Each set comes with rice. (Maybe they can provide noodles as an option.)

On Saturday, the cafe was slightly less than half full, still plenty of tables and seats. So we walked in to get a table. But the cashier at the counter shouted at us and people in the queue turned to stare at us. It was quite embarrassing.

Apparently, there was a reservation for a table of 8. But I repeat: there were ample seats. No matter where we sat, there would be still space for 8 people. And on some tables, there were  reservation signs, so we knew where not to sit.

To be fair to the cashier, she was the only service staff; she had to be the cashier and the person who brought the food to customers. So she shouted at us because she could not leave the cash register.  Maybe the shop should employ more workers.

While I was ordering at the counter, a lady customer interrupted my order. She carried her bowl of curry back to the counter and announced proudly that her Level THIRTY curry wasn’t spicy enough and she wanted the cook to do something about it. When she left the counter, the cook said, “Huh? Level 30 still not spicy?”

First of all, I have to say I admire the lady customer’s initiative. Most people will just be passive aggressive and complain to their friends. But I also think she was way too complainy. Level 30 is already their maximum level, it’s their standard. What gives her the sense of entitlement to demand it to be spicier? It’s like going to McD and say, the fillet o fish isn’t fresh enough, please make sure it’s fresh.

Secondly, the cook shouldn’t have said anything when I, a customer, was there to overhear. Granted that the lady customer was being difficult, service must still come first. Want to talk bad about your customers? Wait till they leave. That’s what SQ flight attendants do, right?

At long last, the food came. Mr Fitness said, “They are so slow, how can they handle CBD lunch crowd?” Beats me. But in any case, the food was quite delicious.

We had the marathon chicken ($14.90, chicken leg) at level 5 spiciness with Japanese curry soup. The chicken is tender and the soup is spicy but easy to drink. Surprisingly, it’s light enough that you can sip it like soup.

We had the other one, hamburg ($16.90), at level 10 spiciness in a tomato-based curry soup. I cannot take spicy food, so level 10 or 12 is my limit; this level 10 is already quite spicy for me. But if you’re a moderate spice-eater, maybe you can try level 15-20.

Anyway, the tomato-based soup cannot be drunk; it is thick and grainy, so it works best as a gravy on rice. Mr Fitness loved it, he couldn’t stop eating the tomato one. And since I prefer the Japanese soup, it worked out for us.

The hamburg, however, is quite tough. So I’ll advise sticking to the chicken.

Skip the Hokkaido mochi cheese (2pc, $6.50). It’s expensive for two pieces and the chewy texture of mochi is strange with cheese.

While the food is delicious, one more thing to improve is the pricing. Including drinks, we spent $57 for two persons, that’s 33% more expensive than what we paid at Tengawa Hokkaido White Curry.


Sama Curry & Cafe
6A Shenton Way, Downtown Gallery #03-26, Singapore 068815
tel: +65 6224 0590

Food: 6.75/10
Price: 5.5/10
Decor: 6/10
Service: 5.5/10

You may be interested in…
Teppanyaki Hamburg Nihonbashi Keisuke Bettei, Tanjong Pagar: First Hamburg Restaurant in Singapore (With Salad Buffet and Free-Flow of Eggs of All Styles)
Sabar @ Japan Food Town, Wisma Atria: Holy Saba Sets the Bar Sky High
Sandaime Bunji 三代目文治, Millenia Walk: Tower of Japanese Beef at a Good Price
Jimoto Ya, China Square Central: Hokkaido Ebi-Tonkatsu Ramen Created by Michelin-Starred Chef Nobumasa Mieda

Written by A. Nathanael Ho.

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