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Sep 5, 2013 06:52 PM

Singapore - Fabulous Kachchi Biryani and Bengali cuisine at Fakruddin, Desker Road

Fakruddin is that famous Bangladeshi biryani restaurant which, since its conception in 1966, has played hosts to numerous personalities from the Indian sub-continent and elsewhere, from the scion of India's ruling Gandhi family, Rahul, to British TV-chef, Rick Stein. I'd not had the opportunity to visit any of its Dhaka outlets during my visit to Bangladesh a few years back but, lucky for me, Fakruddin now has a branch in Singapore's Little India district off Serangoon Road. Esconced in the area bounded by Desker Road and Lembu Road, it lies in the heart of the Bangladeshi retail/commercial area within Little India.

What I tried today:

- "Kachchi biryani": I'd tried many types of biryanis, from the classic, spicy Hyderabadi version to the delightful Thalaserry Biriyani using Moplah Muslims from Kerala using aged short-grained “Khaima" rice. The Bengali kachchi biryani is certainly as good as any: the spiced meat is cooked, and steam-sealed together with the rice (contrast this with the Pakki biryani where the spiced meats and rice were cooked separately before being mixed prior ro serving). Fakruddin did not have the chicken version when I visited today, so I tried the mutton version and it was sensational - the short-grained rice was reminiscent of the quinoa-like "khaima" grains, whilst chunks of spiced potatoes embedded in the rice provided a delightful textural contrast and were also flavoursome. No one on the Indian sub-continent can rival the Bengalis in knowing how to extract such sweetness from onions through slow-cooking and caramelisation. Here, strands of golden-brown shallots provided bursts of sweetness to the rice. The mutton, cooked on-the-bone, was dark and tender.

- "Aloo bhorta": mashed potatoes spiked with pungent mustard oil. This is definitely Bengali comfort food, the mustard oil turned what would have been a "normal" potato mash into a tasty concoction, best enjoyed with steamed white rice. The version at Fakruddin contained sprigs of fresh coriander leaves and aromatic golden-fried shallots.

- "Chichinga chingri bhaji": stir-fried snakegourd and shrimps. I liked this light side-dish: the snakegourd is a common vegetable used in Chinese cooking, and its soft zucchini-like texture contrasted nicely with the shell-on shrimps. The rendition here was subtly flavoured with the lightest touch of mustard oil.

One of the most satisfying lunches I'd had in a while. Rick Stein and the BBC crew did an episode on Fakruddin's kacchi biryani at its main Gulshan outlet.

Address details
8 Desker Road
Singapore 209552
Tel: +65-62977730

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  1. Excellent Klyeoh-Very useful !!

    The last time I was in Singapore was 18 years ago. I had to cancel this destination 3x already and hopefully this time it might work out. If you have to name three dishes (culinary experience) that I need to try while there and work schedule permitting, what would you recommend. How should I manage a 3 days stay (likely weekend)? Hawkers, little India, arab street fair game as well.

    Thanks for all your valuable information.



    PS: went to Diverxo in Madrid to weeks ago. I will tell you later.

    6 Replies
    1. re: domenexx

      Hi Domenexx
      18 years is a long time and you'll hardly recognise Singapore now.

      3 days should suffice to give you a taste of Singapore. Most foodie-visitors here tend to opt for hawker food items (Katong laksa, fried "carrot cake", oyster omelette, etc.) which are unique to Singapore, plus seafood choices (chilli crabs, black pepper crabs).

      Indian cuisine
      Little India is fabulous and you can perhaps spend part of a day there. There are some good options, usually Singapore outlets of well-established Indian restaurants:

      1) Raj of Kolkata for its chaats:

      2) Murugan Idli Shop of Chennai:

      3) Madras New Woodlands is a homegrown South Indian vegetarian eatery that's become my personal fave:

      4) *Okay, this is one of the must-have dishes in Singapore: the fish-head curry! There's Apolo and Muthu in Little India (both having been operating for more than half a century). I'd also recommend Samy's at Dempsey Hill for a change of environment (verdant greenery in place of near-chaotic Little India):

      Dim Sum & Cantonese food
      Most top-level Cantonese spots in Singapore provide dim sum of very high quality - perhaps the best in the world after Hong Kong & Guangzhou. Some good dining options would be:
      - Taste Paradise at ION Orchard
      - Imperial Treasure at Great World City
      - Crystal Jade Palace at Ngee Ann City
      Do book ahead - top Chinese restaurants tend to be very popular.

      *Chilli crabs & seafood
      Chilli crabs - which are usually huge, meaty Sri Lankan crabs cooked in a tomato-ey, sweetish chilli-spiked sauce with egg threads running through it is a must-order if/when you're in Singapore. Some places to try it:
      - No Signboard in Geylang
      - Long Beach UDMC at #01-04 East Coast Seafood Centre Singapore 449811. Tel: 6448 3636
      - Palm Beach at One Fullerton
      - Red House

      *Nyonya cuisine
      Nyonya cuisine is pretty unique to Singapore, Malacca and Penang. It's a centuries-old hydrid of Malay-Chinese-Indian cooking styles and perhaps one of the world's earliest fusion cuisine. Some top spots:
      - Candlenut in Outram Park
      - Guan Hoe Soon in Joo Chiat
      - Kim Choo in Katong

      *Malay cuisine
      Lots of good dining options in Arab Street/Kampung Glam area (nearest MRT station: Bugis), but the best indigenous Malay food spot has to be Hajjah Maimunah

      Hawker fare
      Some of the more popular food centres:
      - Old Airport Road Food Centre
      - Maxwell Road Food Centre
      - Amoy Street Food Centre
      These food centres tend to be *very* packed during peak lunch hours, so go early, say about 11am thereabouts!

      Look forward to reading about your Madrid dining experience - I love that city.

      1. re: domenexx

        Not to forget Rumah Makan Minang if you are going down to Arab St. The place serves the most sumptious array of Indonesian-style curries:-

        1. re: M_Gomez

          klyeoh and m_gomez are much more well versed than me in the food in singapore, but i'd throw in the following:
          - sin huat: i think this place is super awesome (albeit expensive)

          - eng seng: ive been going to this place for like a decade i still like it alot

          - hill street tai hwa: klyeoh had a mediocre experience here recently, but i love bak chor mee and i really like it here

          - outram park ya hua rou gu cha: i really love the peppery kind of bak kut teh and so for me this place is so awesome, i would literally eat this for breakfast everyday if u let me

          here's my recently postings from singapore:

          1. re: Lau


            Thanks for the feedback !!


            1. re: domenexx

              domenexx - for all those places, go early! They are usually insanely packed and are basically "no reservations" spots.

              Sin Huat: you go and take your seat, and *wait* for the owner-chef, Danny, to come and take your order. None of his assistants are authorised to do likewise. You also *cannot* call out to him. A wait can be up to 45 minutes but, once he's at your table, he's very pleasant & nice. The food is stupendous and notoriously expensive, considering the dinghy place and sweltering heat & humidity you have to endure. The crab "bee hoon" is unforgettable.

              Eng Seng: Go early or their crabs would have run out. Eng Seng's claim-to-fame are their tongue-searing black pepper crabs. Another hot, sweltering eatery.

        2. re: domenexx

          My two-cents' worth, the three dishes you shouldn't miss in Singapore are:-

          1) Katong laksa. The best one is at Roxy Square which is from the original Janggut laksa.

          2) Chili crab. The last time I had one was at Dempsey Hill's Long Beach. It's more expensive than the one at UDMC East Coast but is more centrally located.

          3) Hainanese chicken rice. There are many places in Singapore which serves great chicken rice. The most famous one is ironically in Chatterbox, Mandarin Hotel Orchard. It's expensive compared to other places in Orchard Rd. You can also get good chicken rice from the food court at Centrepoint shopping centre, ION Orchard's Food Opera, and Wisma Atria's Food Republic.

            1. Thanks you all for the excellent feedback ! I'm covered in Singapore. I will stay longer than expected in KL so a little bit of help fir this city will be appreciated.



              2 Replies
              1. re: domenexx

                klyeoh is your man

                one place id def recommend is restoran overseas and make sure to preorder some cha siu or go early to get it

                1. re: Lau

                  Agreed, Lau - for Cantonese cuisine in KL, Oversea's main outlet in Jalan Imbi is the best (their branches in Plaza Armada, etc., are nowhere as good)

                  Cantonese fine dining is not really KL's forte, as the best Chinese-Malaysian chefs are mostly working overseas in Singapore and elsewhere, e.g. Hakkasan London's Tong Chee Hwee or Australia's Cheong Liew.

                  KL is more well-known for its casual Cantonese eateries. One place you must *not* miss is the retro-licious Sek Yuen in Pudu:

                  For a casual breakfast in a local "kopitiam" (traditional coffee shop) environment, try Win Heng Seng:

                  KL's Indian food scene is not as vibrant as Singapore's, and many of its Tamil-Indian food has been localised to suit "Malaysian" tastes, so much so that visitors from Chennai or other parts of South India often complained that the food here didn't taste "authentic". But Nagas in Brickfields delivers on this count, and the last time I brought visitors (one from Chennai, the other from Bangalore) there, they both declared Nagas as their go-to place for "real" Indian food in Brickfields:

                  For a largely Malay city, the ehtnic Malay food places in KL are pretty disappointing - you usually get good Malay food in the houses of your Malay friends. But the best places for locals here are Bijan (book ahead! They are usually closed for corporate events), Songket or Enak.

                  My latest find, Restoran Puteri, is a drive outside KL but very popular with the local Malays:

                  For street eats, try Jalan Alor (in Bukit Bintang) or Petaling Street (in KL's dinghy Chinatown) in the evenings:

                  Don't miss Kim Lian Kee at Chinatown:

                  I wouldn't bother with European, Japanese, Mexican or any other types of cuisine in KL - they are nowhere as good as those one finds in neighbouring Bangkok or Singapore. I find the food at the top 3 "Western" restaurants in KL - On the Table, Sage and Cilantro to be pretty average-tasting and very much over-priced.

                  Google this board to find any particular cuisine or dishes you might want to try in KL - there are hundreds of threads on KL dining. But do let us know if you have any specific query.

              2. I'm forever in awe of the depth of knowledge that you have when it comes to food (local or otherwise!)

                1 Reply
                1. re: akated

                  Thanks, akated :-D

                  Just hang out with other Chowhounders more (from other Boards), many of them know much, much more than I'll ever aspire to.