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If you're familiar with Singapore House's sister restaurant, British India, the decor will not come as a surprise. Actually, it will. While you expect the wow factor, it's a question of how the wow will be delivered. Part-owner Walter Ventura is the interior design maestro of his group's restaurants. At Singapore House his artistic antics continue with more animal heads rearing their taxidermied heads alongside mounted tortoise shells. It is a mix of Doctor Doolittle and the Raffles Room. A lofty skylight and clusters of suspended lampshades warm the room, but are beautifully outshone by a collection of butterflies. Hundreds of the colourful beauties are individually framed to form the feature wall of the "Butterfly Room"; an intimate, rustic space adjoining the bar, designed for the cosy enjoyment of exotic thali dishes and perhaps a "Raffles rum punch", "Singapore House sling" or "orange blossom sherbet".
With aesthetics as charismatic as this, it's easy to lose sight of the food, but chef Palam presents a menu as well considered as the decor. A blackboard announces Chinese, Malaysian and Indian fare, with Nonya (Nyonya) cooking bringing them together. That is the fusion of ingredients from Malaysia and China as well as Malaysia and India. Roasted Nonya kingfish demonstrates this with meaty, lemon-grassed chunks resting in a sweet coconut curry. Don't be afraid to tackle the chilli crab. Bright red pincers are provided to crack the claws free of their flesh, but the ultimate pleasure lies in sucking the sweetness from the crustacean and letting its juices to dribble from your lips. The chilli factor is unexpectedly soft, unlike the vindaloo osso bucco. Its fire will "warm" you for days. While the presentation of the udang (prawn) salad needs refinement, that of the deep-fried whole Robarra barramundi is a cracker.