The NYC neighborhood known as Curry Hill (Lexington Avenue between, say, 26th and 29th Streets) is a popular dining destination for local foodies looking to satisfy their cravings for authentic Indian cuisine. But those seeking a bit of diversity in their quest for an Asian food fix have a new options, thanks to Singapura, which recently opened on this Lexington Avenue strip of restaurants and spice shops. The modern city-state of Singapore is a melting pot of Thai, Chinese, Malaysian and Indian cultures and the menu at Singapura offers a window into this diversity, drawing inspiration from the varied culinary traditions that make up that region while remaining familiar to the American palate.
With its comfortable, modern interior and very reasonable prices, Singapura bridges the gap between casual sit down dining and the convenience of take out. In this narrow storefront space, half the room is illuminated by Lotus flower-shaded hanging lamps (we’ve never seen anything like these before!) while the other side enjoys the trending look of glowing exposed filament bulbs amid earth toned walls and banquets. And check out those brass lion head door knockers mounted on the backs of the chairs: very cool! Service is immediately attentive and friendly, with staff happy to suggest dishes or answer any questions you have about the ingredients of a dish. There’s also a well-represented selection of meats, seafood and vegetarian dishes to accommodate any diet.
We started our meal with the vegetable option (chicken is also offered) of Singapura’s pan-fried dumplings ($5.00), featuring a filling of assorted green veggies wrapped in a lightly crisped spinach-based dough. Dumplings are served with a side of several dipping sauces, including hot sesame oil if your taste leans toward the spicier side of life! The Potato Curry Puff ($5.00) also enticed us with its blend of potatoes and cauliflower in a mild curry seasoning stuffed in a light puff pastry wrapping, enhanced by the accompanying cucumber and red onion chutney. So yummy!
For main courses, we opted for a couple of traditional favorites. Coconut curry is a favorite flavor of ours, so the Red Chicken ($14.00) sounded like an ideal option. Served in a rich sweet and spicy sauce (note: much more fiery than anticipated), tender chunks of white meat chicken were surrounded by fresh string beans, bamboos shoots, half moon slices of zucchini and tender-crisp carrots. Very delicious, but be forewarned that even if a dish’s menu description lacks a tiny red pepper icon next to it, the dish still may not be mildly spiced.
It may have been less than adventurous, but we just had to go for the chicken Pad Thai ($11.00) – the thin rice noodle dish by which all Thai cuisine is judged! This one was a winner. All dishes are appropriately portioned for sharing, but with a hearty appetite you could easily polish off a single entrée by yourself. All ingredients are fresh and tasty which makes it very challenging to stop eating even after you’ve indulged as we did.
Singapura’s dessert menu is limited to just two choices, and were were too stuffed to try both, but we were delighted with our choice of the Mango Sticky Rice ($5.00): a simple dish of sweet sticky rice dusted with toasted sesame seeds and served alongside a generous portion of fresh sliced mango. On our next visit we will save room for the Fried Banana ($5.00). Singapura lacks a full bar at present, but serves a decent selection of beer and wine.
Singapura is located at 106 Lexington Avenue (Take the 6 Train to 28th Street) in New York City, Phone (212) 684-6842. Visit their Website for more information or to make a reservation.