A Singapore institution.
Serving up South Indian specialties in a casual colonial setting, Samy’s Curry is a Singapore institution. The fact that Samy’s has been around for 50 years is a testament to how good the food truly is.
You’ll find a browsing copy of the menu by the entrance, but the way to order at Samy’s Curry is to go the counter and see what’s cooking. Cafeteria-style trays are filled with spicy favourites like chicken masala, Mysore mutton and palak paneer (spinach with cheese). There’s also a good selection of seafood including crispy fish patties, tandoori prawns and their specialty of fish head curry. It may sound intimidating, but the white snapper in a sourish tamarind curry is addictive and keeps many of Samy’s customers coming back for more.
The method of eating at Samy’s is also a novelty for most as food is served on banana leaves. Waiters circulate the restaurant with metal buckets of rice and veggie side dishes, scooping some of each onto your biodegradable plate. If you’d like to keep with South Indian tradition you should eat using your right hand; there are sinks for washing up before and after the meal. Of course, you can also get a fork and spoon.
Although the Dempsey Hill area is known for posh restaurants, a meal at Samy’s is a casual affair. The building was formerly an army barracks and the main dining room is a simple, fan-cooled space that may make you feel like you’re eating in a mess hall – the best tables are the few on the verandah. Samy’s is rightfully popular and attracts a steady crowd of hungry tourists and locals and, when busy, the service becomes chaotic. In theory the price includes unlimited refills of rice and vegetable side dishes but you will have to ask for them, possibly more than once.
The prices at Samy’s Curry seem very reasonable when you’re browsing the menu, but do be warned that they add up quickly. Expect to pay S$2.20 per person for rice, S$2.20 per naan bread, S$8-12 for meat dishes and S$18 for a small order of fish head curry (which is enough for two or three people to share). Wash it down with fresh lime juice (S$2.50 for a huge mug) or a sweet mango lassi (S$3.50). Unlike most Indian restaurants, Samy’s serves beer and it’s quite reasonably priced at S$7.50 for a bottle of Indian Kingfisher or S$23 for a jug of draft Tiger.
Tanya Procyshyn is a freelance writer and photographer. With a passion for unusual destinations, she has camped alongside Komodo dragons and shook hands with soldiers in North Korea.
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