Up to now, Indian restaurants in Singapore have been traditional outfits with luscious curries and warm breads. That’s set to change with Saha Signature Indian Bar and Restaurant. The two-month-old 42-seater is opened by India’s celebrity chef Abhijit Saha, and serves cuisine from across the subcontinent with a modernist slant – the first of its kind here.
The award-winning chef gained recognition in India for his two hip and wildly popular restaurants: the acclaimed modern European Caperberry opened in 2008, and Mediterranean establishment Fava that opened in 2010. These trendy places stood out for serving unfamiliar food in even more unfamiliar styles amid India’s largely traditional dining scene.
That progressive outlook is evident in Saha. The far end of the restaurant has a bar manned by a mixologist serving Indian-inspired drinks, and the dining area is infused with lounge music delivering throbbing bass beats. Menus are on an iPad and dishes are plated with a modern aesthetic – small, neatly arranged portions, dressed with drips of sauces and foams.
These touches are as pretty as they are functional for adding flavour. Saha excels in this mastery of the palate. The curry-based dish of duck chettinad – slices of duck in spicy south Indian curry – comes with a slice of grapefruit that helps cut the richness of the sauce. The same fruity element is seen in the turmeric-roasted reef cod, whereby the flaky white flesh of the saltwater fish is elevated with a cinnamon-roasted apple and apricot chutney.
The restaurant’s modernist arsenal is fully displayed with the kerala chicken-stew foam. Plated table-side, the foam is squeezed out of a whipping siphon into a martini glass with citrus pudding and garlic crumbs. Unfortunately, it holds more visual interest than taste. Once we ran out of the crumbs and pudding, the dish became bland.
It’s a small setback. If anything, Saha Signature Indian Bar and Restaurant demonstrates that Indian flavours can be just as versatile as any other.