I seldom eat Indian food, but when I do, it's always a sumptuous feast of all my favorite dishes which I can easily rattle off my tongue. Mirchi at The Esplanade Mall not only offered me a taste of North Indian cuisine with these well-loved specialties, but enticed much with delightful additions from their refreshed menu too. Best, it's all very affordable.
To be honest, I've not heard of Mirchi until recently even though they have been established since 2003. We talking about a restaurant that has been around in Singapore for 12 years! Can stay in this competitive F&B scene for so long means got power leh. Don't play play.
So that kind of piqued my interest. The visit to the restaurant did not surprised me much with their choice of decoration for interior though: Vibrant hues of purple and red with accents of Indian embroidery and tapestry. It's warm and representative of its heritage, and inviting in a contemporary way too.
What I did not expect is the Chicken Dhaniya Soup ($7) in its clear broth with chicken strips and coriander. Certainly looking more Chinese than Indian, but when the depth of flavors from spices used and the hint of spiciness from green chillies hit me, I was reminded that the richness in taste is indeed reflective of the richness one would expect of Indian cuisine.
"Mirchi" may mean "chilli", but beyond spiciness, what they have up their sleeves are definitely much more. The kaleidoscope of flavors this Indian restaurant can spin up is very much apparent in its extensive menu.
After the light soupy start, we moved on to some appetizers such as Paneer Tikki ($9), patties of homemade cottage cheese mixed with cumin, dried fruits, nuts and grated coconut pan-fried to a crisp outer, and Bombay Papdi Chaat ($7), another enjoyable creation of soft potato chunks tossed in tamarind chutney and mint yoghurt which is inspired by the street food in India.
From the tandoori selection, the grilled Tandoori Aloo ($14) of hallowed potatoes stuffed with cottage cheese, herbs and cashews, as well as Chicken Seekh Kebah ($17), minced chicken marinated with aromatic herbs and ground spices, made decently satisfying choices.
What I wouldn't missed are the signature flatbread - naans, especially the warm and crisp yet chewy textured Plain Naan ($3) that will go exceeding well with any curries. Garlic Naan ($4) which was generously spiked with garlic and sinfully-rich Butter Naan ($4) are my next two weakness! To enjoy the best of all 3 flavors in one go? Getting the Bread Basket ($13) would be the no-brainer decision.
The mains were no less tempting with luscious curries synonymous of Indian cuisine, including the tandoori roasted chicken simmered with butter, tomatoes and cream, a crowd-pleasing dish which we fondly known as Butter Chicken ($17), and Prawn Chilli Masala ($24) featuring fresh meaty prawns cooked in an uber appetite-whetting tomato gravy.
Vegetable Jaipuri ($13), a delicious mix of carrots, cauliflowers, bell peppers, French bean and green peas in tomato and onion gravy was not only suitable for vegetarians, but also made the carnivore in me rather happy. It was simple bliss when paired with spoonfuls of fluffy, saffron Biryani Rice ($7).
Desserts marked a sweet ending with Gulab Jamun ($7), cheese dumplings immersed in scented sugar syrup, and Kulfi ($8), traditional Indian ice-cream in pistachio and mango flavors. The latter was especially refreshing after this considerably heavy and fulfilling meal.
Mirchi, Taste Of India
Address: 8 Raffles Avenue, #02-23, Esplanade Mall, Singapore 039802
Contact: +65 6334 5590
Opening Hours: Daily Lunch 12pm-3pm / Daily Dinner 6pm-11pm