Khan’s Restaurant, London

was suddenly hit by a massive craving for some good indian food and had intended to give the legendary tayyabs a try, but we were put off by the idea of a potentially (and highly possibly) snaking queue on a chilly autumn friday night. so based on my cousin’s recommendation, to khan’s we headed instead! am happy¬†to say that we had no regrets at all, because i was super pleased with the yummy meal. in fact, so pleased was i that i think a trip to tayyabs may no longer be necessary…

one often associates bayswater with a slew of chinese restaurants – mandarin kitchen, goldmine and the like, so when i told friends that i was heading to bayswater for indian food, i was unsurprisingly met with some raised eyebrows accompanied by “indian? not roast duck?”. i think this will be happening quite a bit more in the coming year (final year omg #timeflies!!!) though, so hopefully the surprise will soon turn to curiosity and excitement to try it too ūüėõ

i was imagining a family-run-type establishment – small, cosy and not occupying more than 2 shop spaces, but i was wrong. very wrong. khan’s has been around for 34 years now, and their success and popularity shows in the large space they occupy and high seating capacity the restaurant has.
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yes, the decor is slightly (understatement?) tacky, but the place is spacious, clean, big and comfortable. beyond this first section where you can experience the pleasure of dining under palm trees while indoors, the back section offers you an alternative of moroccan lights¬†as company. at times i felt like i was in one of those arabian nights restaurants in a theme park, but i wasn’t in the least bit bothered by it because the dining area is actually rather pleasant.

they have a good range of dishes to choose from on their menu, still traditionally prepared by the founder’s family,¬†and purported to have maintained the same quality and standard over the decades.
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for the 2 of us to share, we ordered a serving of butter chicken (what i had been craving and needed to have), fish tikka curry, sag paneer and a garlic naan each. food was served rather promptly and by that time we were starving and all ready to tuck in.20141003_192830L to R: butter chicken (£7.75), sag paneer ($4.30), fish tikka curry (£8.95)
all the curries were very good. my massive butter chicken craving was more than satisfied, the sag paneer was nic’s favourite of the night, and the fish tikka curry was flavourful and being the¬†lightest out of the 3, balanced out the richness of the other 2 dishes.

starting with the butter chicken – chicken¬†prepared in butter, cream, cashew nuts, coconut, masala sauce and dressed with almonds-, this was a butter chicken lover’s (ie me) dream come true. the gravy was ultra creamy and flavourful, thick and rich but not too heavy and with a subtle but palpable taste¬†of a nuts – it really hit the mark for me and is definitely one of the better (if not the best) butter chickens i’ve had in london. i couldn’t stop¬†dousing my naan in this sinful goodness! our conclusion: definitely worth the calories ūüėõ our only qualm about this dish was the chicken itself – it was a tad dry and we hoped that the meat itself would be more seasoned. it lacked the tastiness that the gravy had, possibly because the chicken wasn’t cooked in the gravy long enough (no idea, just hazarding a guess).

as for the sag paneer, (spinach cooked with homemade cheese), it was nic’s absolute favourite of the night. i really really enjoyed it too, though if i had to pick one fave of the night, i remain loyal to my beloved butter chicken. the spinach was very tasty and creamed to the perfect point¬†that it was smooth but not overly so and still had a nice texture to it. it was also of the perfect consistency and thickness and though i can’t pinpoint what it was about it that made it different from sag paneer that i’ve had at other indian restaurants, it¬†was very yummy and certainly worth an order if you’re at khan’s.

last but not least, we had the fish tikka curry – slices of oven baked fish cooked in a medium spicy sauce. this dish was marked with a little heart next to it on the menu which represents “healthy eating: low fat”, so i suppose this was our (admittedly rather feeble) effort to make the meal a slightly less sinful one… we also enjoyed this dish! it was lighter than the other 2, where the sauce was less creamy (but that didn’t make it any less tasty) and a lot more tomato-ey. my favourite part of this dish was the fish pieces in the curry. they were fresh and naturally sweet, which was a pleasant surprise because one normally associates fish in such things as tasting frozen and not very fresh.

20141003_193126garlic naan Р£2.65
not forgetting my staple at any indian meal, naan!!! (do you sense my excitement; just writing about it makes me excited hahaha) had a garlic naan here and was extremely satisfied. the naan was just the way i liked it – (1) BIG, (2) crispy edges, and (3) fluffy. it had the surface area of an entire plate, and was wonderfully soft and pillowy while having the odd slightly-charred crispy patch and crispy edges all around. used every bit of it to soak up all the flavourful and creamy curries, and all the plates on the table were wiped clean by the end of the meal. (we were also ready to enter into food comas by that point.)

all in all, it was a hugely satisfying meal at khan’s and i was extremely happy. i can never leave bayswater without having some gelato at oddono’s in whiteleys, so to top off an already good night, we headed for my fave gelateria (in close competition with gelupo for top spot in my books) for our usual hazelnut-pisatchio-gelato-in-a-cone-please fix. my idea of a great friday night, and something i’m definitely going to need to do again¬†soon… ūüėÄ

Khan’s Restaurant
13-15 Westbourne Grove
London W2 4UA

PS. saw a sign outside the restaurant advertising their lunch buffet at a really reasonable price of ¬£9.95 – that’s certainly something worth checking out too!

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Spices Cafe, Singapore

since i only had 4 full weekdays in sunny singapore¬†after my last internship ended and before i was off to new york, food consumed for each meal was a very deliberate and purposeful choice. the mother insisted on taking me to this lunch buffet before being packed off to the uk (where good nonya food is far from aplenty) and though initially hesitant about departing from my firm favourites (ie bak chor mee/roti prata/chirashi round 2/3/4), i’m really glad spices cafe made the final cut¬†because i left extremely satisfied and all ready to return to the land of roast chicken and grilled salmon.

located in the oft-overlooked concorde hotel that is at the less happening part of orchard road just before the istana, spices cafe serves up a yummy peranakan buffet lunch in a nice setting that far exceeded my expectations. they offer almost any nonya dish you can imagine, and i would say that almost everything i tried was above average which is no mean feat given the huge array of food available.
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managed to snap some pics of the glorious food sitting all nice and pretty before the hungry patrons attacked:
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rojak & gado-gado station
okay faithful followers of this blog (thank you guys!!!) will know that i am a fan of rojak (my all-time favourite being silver stream rojak) but few people know that i am also a fan of gado-gado so a rojak AND gado-gado station was like… a dream come true hahaha. started off with this but went back many many many more times. the rojak is completely DIY – you make the sauce yourself based on the recipe displayed there which makes for quite a fun experience, and its always nice to personalise your rojak with just the ingredients you want. for me, its always lots of peanuts and pineapple ūüėÄ the recipe was not bad i have to say; the final product tasted pretty good every time i mixed a plate!

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kway chap & laksa

20140917_120553popiah / kueh pie tee / satay
the popiah & kueh pie tee are made on-the-spot by the chef manning the station, and they have both chicken and pork satay that come accompanied by ketupat, cucumber, the all-important peanut sauce, and some pineapple sauce too! yum…

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cooked main dishes
they had a huge array of cooked dishes including the quintessential nonya dishes like chap chye, buah keluak (was really disappointed by this though!!! rather sad because i adore buah keluak so much that my maid sometimes cooks and freezes it for me to take back to ldn with me ūüėõ ), prawns with petai etc. they even have a daily crab dish – it was black pepper on the day we went, and i was pleasantly surprised by how the black pepper seasoning was spot-on and the crab meat was firm, naturally sweet and juicy. bibs are provided so that serious crab eaters can leave without evidence of their crustacean feast; a nice touch!

20140917_120513dessert spread
i would have dubbed this the best part of the buffet, except everything else was really rather yummy too so the amazing dessert spread will just have to be deemed another great part of the buffet ūüôā

on to some close-ups of the food i had the great pleasure of savouring:
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one of the many rounds i went for Рhere i sampled the (going in a clockwise direction starting from the bottom) petai with prawn, chap chye, pork, squid, egg fu yong and oyster omelette. all of them were good, but the stand-out for me was definitely the squid. it was wonderfully tasty and the squid was cooked to perfection (neither rubbery nor mushy), something not easy to achieve when mass-cooking for hungry buffet-goers. i also liked the chap chye, a classic nonya dish done well.

also had several rolls of freshly-made popiah throughout the meal:20140917_122220
i’ve definitely had better popiah elsewhere, but this was not a bad rendition at all. the popiah skin was thin, filling was tasty, and chilli added just the right kick to it. i would have liked the addition of more crispy garlic bits to add some texture though. i loved how the rolls were¬†smaller than the regular popiah rolls you get at other places – big enough to satisfy popiah cravings but small enough so that there’s still space in one’s stomach for other food. also note the kueh pie tee in the background – yummy! but i feel they would have been made even more optimal with the addition of some prawns or peanuts on top.

besides the “soupy” laksa and kway chap dishes they had, there was also a big pot of pig organ soup. i’m not a fan but my mother had a bowl and seemed to quite enjoy it:20140917_123441
speaking of the laksa and kway chap, i don’t have a picture of the laksa but i very fondly recall it to be a very¬†good bowl of laksa – deliciously lemak but not too rich, creamy or heavy. i daresay it was better than bowls of laksa i’ve had from katong laksa and the like. didn’t try the kway chap, but it looked pretty good with a whole range of condiments (tau pok, egg, tau kwa, innards etc) to pick to go with the kway chap.

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another of the many rounds of food – you can see i took more squid. in fact, i took it every single time i paid a visit to the buffet spread ūüėõ yes, i liked it that much! on this plate there’s better scale to see the aforementioned fun-sized¬†popiah, each roll was cut into just also had some glutinous rice and fried carrot cake¬†this round, along with satay. the fried carrot cake was very average, i remember thinking it could be tastier (but then again, its hard to please with anything other than ghim moh carrot cake heh). as for the satay, i was impressed! both the chicken and pork satays were tasty, tender and moist. super yummy when generously drizzled with both peanut and pineapple sauce. YUM.

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another staple of the day – gado-gado!!! had several servings of this and took plenty of tempeh every single time. i love tempeh!!! (do you sense my excitement) the peanut sauce to go with the gado-gado was great, and i loved how the tau kwa and carrots were cut into big chunks and not measly pieces. could really do with some of that delicious tempeh now…

and finally, on to the glorious dessert:
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the dessert spread did not disappoint. besides the huge assortment of kuehs, there was an array of fresh fruit, a chendol machine, bubur cha cha, putu mayam, and potong ice cream in assorted flavours. this is one buffet you¬†definitely want (and need) to save space for dessert at…
absolutely loved how there were 2 huge bowls of thick, creamy and super yummy durian and banana sauce at the side of the kuehs, to be generously slathered on all kuehs as desired. the durian penyet also deserves a special shout-out: creamy, smooth and thick – a durian lover’s dream come true! the bubur cha cha was good but i would have liked it with some jackfruit (in fact i think i stole some from the fresh fruits section and added it ūüėõ ), and all the kuehs were good. the more common ones (kueh lapis, 9 layer kueh etc) were done well, while there were some more novel ones added to the mix as well. i didn’t have much¬†of the putu mayam, but my aunty is a fan and she had 2 servings of it (even after all that food) so it must have been good!!!

at a really affordable price of $32++ ($23++ for above 55s), there is really nothing much to complain about at this buffet. not only is the food delicious, the service is also great – the restaurant is staffed with several lovely ladies in traditional peranakan kebayas who make you feel as if you’ve stepped into their homes for some comfort food. also love that this is in a quieter part of orchard road, tucked away¬†along a stretch few walk along because most would hop on the train from somerset to dhoby ghaut; its like one of orchard road’s hidden gems (but now you know about it ūüėČ ) definitely no regrets spending one of my treasured last meals in sg of the summer on this place, and i won’t be surprised if it actually gets added to my list of must-gos when home for the holidays. its truly the perfect one-stop spot to satisfy peranakan food cravings; i can’t wait to head back for more… till christmas!

Spices Cafe
Concorde Hotel
Singapore 238840

PS. ever thankful for the best family that is always always always willing to go all-out to satisfy my random food cravings with me, even if it means having double the number of meals we normally have ūüôā ‚̧

Riverwalk Tandoor, Singapore

had a massive craving for indian food after a friend sent me a snap of her devouring naan and butter chicken over the weekend, so it was indian food my friends and i ventured out in search of when we met for dinner last night. i was rather impressed with the food and so decided that i had to write about it pronto before the smell of freshly-made naan and curries escapes me and fades from my memories ūüėõ

we were recommended riverwalk tandoor by an indian friend (legit recommendation right here ūüėČ )¬†and i was mighty pleased to find that they do a super reasonably priced buffet – $15.90++ for lunch and $18.90++ for dinner; free flow naan,¬†here we come!!! conveniently located just across the road from the central (ie clarke quay mrt station) in a corner unit¬†facing the river¬†on the ground floor of the riverwalk, the restaurant was completely empty when i arrived at 630pm, totally different from the scene at jumbo seafood right next door where there was already a line of people eagerly awaiting a seafood fix.
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the restaurant looks quite traditionally indian, and is spacious and comfortable. because of the space and number of tables, i think¬†this would make a great place for a group gathering! the buffet spread is on one side of the restaurant, and once i stepped in they started opening the food covers to reveal yummy food within (i must have looked starving) mmmmmm… i immediately got to work and managed to snap pics of¬†the buffet offerings in their full untouched glory before¬†other guests started tucking in!
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the buffet spread consisted of 8 main dishes (3 meats 1 fish and 4 veg), briyani, white rice, soup, a section with pickles + mint sauce + raita (indian yoghurt) + papadum etc, and dessert Рquite a spread for the price you pay, we thought!

here are the meats/fish:
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everything was pretty good but if i had to pick a fave, it would definitely be the tandoori chicken. taken with the mint sauce, it was super tasty and very successfully satisfied my indian food craving Рthe meat was very tender and moist and the seasoning and tandoori flavour was spot-on.

the other meats available were chicken masala and gosht mirchiwala. the chicken masala was not bad but i thought the sauce could have been a little thicker and creamier. the meat was also not as moist as that of the tandoori chicken; the pieces i had were a little dry. as for the gosht mirchiwala, i still haven’t figured out if it was lamb or mutton we were eating, but it was good anyway! the curry was thick and tasty, great for dipping naan into it.

i also enjoyed the fish tomato curry Рthe fish pieces were fresh, big and meaty, and the tomato sauce was pretty light. the batter of the fish soaked the sauce up to make for quite a good dish. had a few servings of this as a break from the more heavier meat curries.

here’s the vegetarian section:
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fave out of the vegetables was definitely the vegetable jalfrezi. it was a mixed vegetables (beans, carrots, cauliflower) dish in a very nicely spiced tomato-based sauce. i had quite a few servings of thisw because it was the closest thing to aloo gobi that was available as part of the buffet. another dish so tasty¬†that it really satisfied my indian food craving. the other veg dish that i had several servings of was the kabuli paneer. i love paneer and normally always order palak (creamed spinach) paneer whenever i have indian food.¬†couldn’t identify the veg that went into this but the paneer was super yummy; i had lots and lots of it¬†heehee.¬†light, spongy, fluffy – almost like tofu! the dahl and other vegetable dish were also pretty good.

there was also a pickles section of the buffet:
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the papadam was greattt. they regularly brought out fresh batches – crispy and warm and fried in fresh oil (none of the funky reused oil taste you get with some fried things yay!). the pickles were not bad and i absolutely loved the mint sauce and the raita. so yummy!

now on to what was basically my staple for the night, the naan glorious naan!!!

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i stayed away from the briyani and rice because i was readying myself to load up on the naan heehee. the naan here is freshly-made and served to your table – all warm, super fluffy and drizzled generously with butter. what i had been dreaming of and what i had come for – yes yes yes more more more please! they regularly replenish the naan baskets at your table when you’re finished and that was very welcome heh. another picture as a tribute to my love for this amazing bread-y goodness:
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and eaten with the naan we had round after round (as much as our stomachs would allow) of:20140818_19011020140818_191651

at the end of it all, we were super full but sampled the desserts they had available. they had 2 (i assume) traditional indian desserts – gulab jamun and this other milky thing (sorry i forgot the name and its cut off in my picture of it, as you will see in the pic below):
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the gulab jamun was extremely sweet (as expected), so we nibbled at it and stopped there. as for the milky dessert, i’m still not sure what exactly goes into it. it was like… vermicelli-type noodles in a very milky base. wasn’t quite our cup of tea at all, so we stuck to the fresh fruits which were super sweet and juicy, a perfect and refreshing¬†end to our heavy meal.

i’d definitely come back to riverwalk tandoor the next time i’m craving some hearty indian food, and will be spreading the word about it!¬†given the price of the meal, you really can’t complain about the spread or the quality of the food. its nothing fancy but it was good enough for us. didn’t check out the a la carte menu, but might do so next time if i’m not intending on feasting (rare occurence but i assure you, it does happen :P).

we left with very happy (and heavy) tummies, full of enthusiasm to walk off our dinner with a stroll down the river. the enthusiasm didn’t last long though, and we soon found ourselves lazily plonked down by the riverside outside central enjoying the live music from across the water and watching boats go by… perfect end to my night! ūüôā
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Riverwalk Tandoor
20 Upper Circular Rd, The Riverwalk #B1-38
Singapore 058416
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