When we were at Chennai, we visited Dindigul Thalappakatti, famous for their biryani. It was so good that my friend rolled her eyes upwards, showing her white, and exclaimed, “I have risen to heavens.” The restaurant was first established in 1957 in Dindigul, a city in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu which capital is Chennai. It has 62 outlets in total, including those in India and overseas (Dubai, California, etc). The one in Singapore is located at Kitchener Road, just across from City Square Mall.
The menu (see the end of this review) is extensive and can be quite daunting for people who visit the restaurant for the first time, but they have a “Hard Core favourite” menu (about 12 dishes) that makes making decisions easier.
I ordered the same dishes as I had in Chennai for a fair comparison and none of the dishes tasted the same as the Chennai’s ones. The Theepori Lollypop ($11) is one of their signatures. It’s chicken with meat pushed down so it looks like a lollipop. It’s spicy and too salty. There is too much sauce lathered on it–the one in Chennai is not so wet–but it is still crispy. It is too heavy handed and one-dimensional, unlike the complex flavours in Chennai’s version.
We also had the Vanjaram fish fry ($8.50) in Chennai and Singapore’s version pales in comparison. The fish is dry, over-fried and flavours are forgettable, unlike the tender, aromatic Chennai one. Fish fry should be renamed fish dry.
The mutton biriyani ($15) was what we came here for. It looks small but it serves 2-3 person. The savoury, earthy biriyani is not only different from Singapore’s sweeter versions, it is also different from its Chennai predecessor. It is disappointing. The rice here is sticky and broken and short; it doesn’t look or taste like basmati. Flavours are earthy but muted and seem short of 200 spices from the Chennai version. The mutton pieces are good, soft and ample, but couldn’t rescue the biriyani from flailing.
The 3 dishes above—fish fry, lollypop, and biriyani–are good for 2 persons. In fact, we were stuffed after the three dishes. But my partner ordered the egg dosai ($5.50) right from the start. It is standard, soft and fermented, coming across slightly sour.
We paid $43 for two persons. The service is good: the server recommended some dishes to us. But the decor seems cheap and there was a flickering florescent that needed to be changed, but they didn’t, creating a disco effect like when at home, for fun, you switch on and off the lights quickly. Food-wise, it is ordinary and average, a far cry from Chennai, but at least it is affordable.
You may be interested in…
–Bismillah Biryani Restaurant, Little India: Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand’s Pick for Dum Biryani in Singapore
–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
Written by Dr. A. Nathanael Ho.