Taking over the barely 6-month old Tom Cruise-themed cocktail bar, Risky Business, Kitchen Kumars at Duxton Hill started as a home bakery in 2018. Within a year, they manage to open a restaurant. Not an easy feat.
Part of the reason (I think) why Risky Business failed is because the location is hard to find. I used google map and still failed to find the place.
It’s positioned NOT along Duxton road, but near the open-air square carpark where there is an alley of restaurants inaccessible to cars. There, I save you 15 minutes of looking for it.
Kitchen Kumars is started by Manoj Kumar, Dilip Kumar and Rishi Kumar. I tried to google them for their culinary and F&B background to no avail. But now you know why the restaurant is called Kitchen KumarS.
They focus on Indian food with western twists and encourage sharing food.
Their focus seems to fall more on alcoholic beverages than food: I make this claim not in a disparaging tone. Their food is excellent.
I make the claim because there are pages and pages of alcoholic beverages, but there are only 9 appetisers, 2 mains, 4 pizzas, and 1 dessert. If you frequent Indian restaurants, you will know they offer extensive dishes, not countable with fingers and toes.
In any case, the cocktails are fun, all inspired by Indian flavours.
If you like sweet cocktails like me, the Kumar’s Love for Lassi ($14) is made with Titos vodka, strawberry puree, fresh lime juice, homemade elderflower syrup and yoghurt. It’s not thick like lassi, but rather thin and easy to drink.
The passion smash ($18), from Four Roses bourbon, passionfruit puree, fresh lime juice, egg white, and homemade elderflower syrup, is sharp and will clear your nose. It’s not sour, as passionfruit is. However, I’d prefer it to have some passionfruit seeds just to provide a little crunch and texture.
We skipped the appetisers and ignored the pizzas topped with Indian ingredients. I am quite snobbish about pizzas: I need them to be in a wood-fired oven, cooked within a minute, so that flavours are sealed in quickly. At a place like Kitchen Kumars, I am not sure they are able to do that, although I saw all the other tables ordering pizzas. They may be good, I dunno.
It may expensive to have $18 for chicken biryani but it is worth it.
What I don’t like about dum biryani is that it is usually dry and because I am greedy, I swallow quickly and the dry rice chokes me.
But here, the rice is moist yet separate (you know, as opposed to sticky rice). Slightly fiery. Full of spices.
The chicken is great too. Thoroughly marinated that the flavours soak into the bone.
Usually, I find yogurt that accompanies biryani a waste of calories. But here, they seem to go very well together, the yogurt undercutting the robust and rich rice.
One constructive feedback: yogurt is eaten to mitigate the spiciness of food. But here they add birds eye chilli, which makes the yogurt spicy. Spicy biryani, spicy yogurt–hard to dowse the fire on the tongue. Maybe don’t add the chilli to yogurt?
The biryani here is better than the Michelin bib gourmand Bismillah. Bismillah uses premium ingredients but the biryani is so-so; here, the ingredients are normal but the result is amazing. That’s what cooking is about.
The reason why we came here was because we wanted Indian food. But there is limited choice so we ordered the lamb shank ($28) that comes with a basket of naan.
To our pleasant surprise, they Indianify the lamb shank. It’s still tomato based, very sweet, but there are all sorts of good things in there, like nuts and Indian spices. Use the naan to mop up all its textures–outstanding.
The lamb itself is excellent too. Tender but with a bite. You can tell it’s not the sous vide nonsense but braised slowly in the traditional style.
The naan, however, is flat–and we suspect that it is store-bought and not made in-house? We may be wrong.
There was an incident at the restaurant. We made our reservations anonymously through Chope and saw the online menu on Chope. Decided to order the butter chicken and naan from the online menu but when we were there, the menu was a pared-down version, without the traditional Indian dishes.
I asked casually, “Eh, your menu is different from online menu?”
I didn’t mind the least bit that the menu was different—it happens all the time. I did not make a fuss, did not put on a black face, did not complain. People who travel with me know that I’m quite easy-going that way. Look at me, I’m fat, I’m not picky with food.
Although it’s not their fault at all, although menus change all the time, they tried to offer a complimentary cocktail twice and we rejected them twice. We rejected the offer because it was really no big deal and we didn’t want to take advantage of a new business.
In the end, they were generous to take away the lamb shank, the most expensive item, from the bill, and we paid only $48 for two persons (currently no gst, no service charge). (I only found out they took out the shank after I walked away from the restaurant, looking at the bill.)
Superb food and perfect service–what more can anyone ask for?
37 Duxton Hill, Singapore 089615
5pm-12am, closed Sun & Mon
Price: 6.5/10 (no gst and service charge currently, but when they do, deduct 0.5 from this)
Decor / ambience: 6.5/10
You may be interested in…
–Indline Restaurant, Keong Saik: Are There Any Good, Casual Indian Restaurants Outside Little India?
–Como Cuisine, Dempsey: Indian-Inspired Modern Cuisine Recommended by Foodie
–Flying Monkey, Kampong Glam: Go Bananas! Pizza Fabbrica Owner Opens Indian Tapas Bar
–Aryaa, Beach Road: Eating What Alexander The Great Ate
Written by Dr. A. Nathanael Ho.