Located in the heart of East Coast Road, the eye-catching Zaffron Kitchen is the latest concept from the group behind Prata Wala and Ottoman Kebah & Grill. Just diagonally across from the 112 Katong mall, finding parking space is a straightforward affair.
It’s easy to be hypnotised by the many happenings as the North Indian head chef and his team cook up a storm in the theatre kitchen setup by the entrance. Just looking at all the food through the glass makes me hungry!
Decked out in a myriad of vibrant colours, the 96-seater restaurant with a semi-alfresco area houses an eclectic mix of furniture — there’s even a London-imported wooden kids’ cottage at the play area — showcasing a cosmopolitan and modern ambiance.
The cracker-like papadum is a gratifying and crunchy way to start off the meal. I fancy the black pepper version, which has a slight smoky and spiciness to it. Pairing it with the sweet mango chutney dip really piques your appetite!
The papdi chaat is a popular street food commonly found in North India. This small fried dough wafer treat — topped with potatoes, sev (vermicelli-like crisps), sweet yoghurt, mint and tamarind sauce — is a mix of sweet and tangy. With the cool yoghurt to blend the flavours together, this appetising dish is another great starter.
Prepared a la minute, the naans come out hot and smelling oh-so good! The garlic naan is fragrant and not too oily. You may encounter bits of garlic, but the savoury naan will make the garlic breath worthwhile.
If you prefer something sweeter, go for the kashmiri naan. With a variety of dates, raisins, green apples and cashew nuts baked into this Indian bread, it can almost pass off as a dessert!
The house-made strawberry lassi reminds me of a well-blended, thick strawberry yoghurt drink. Without being overly sweet, this creamy drink is much needed to quell some of the Indian spiciness.
The South Indian dish of dum chicken briyani is definitely not to be missed. The basmati rice — flavoured with a whole range of spices — is cooked separately from the flavourful chicken thigh and hard-boiled egg, before baked with a thin, crusty dough layer that seals in the flavours.
Just look at the steaming hot, fragrant rice under the brown crust! With such a generous serving of rice, this dish is definitely value for money.
Throw on a little yoghurt and curry, plus the succulent chicken, the different dimensions of flavours will sure get your taste buds dancing.
For those who want to sample a little of everything, the Zaffron tandoori platter is perfect for trying out the different meats and for sharing too!
While the fish tikka does not appeal much to me out of the lot, the malai tikka — chicken cubes marinated with cottage cheese, coriander and yoghurt — immediately leaves me wanting more. It possesses a lighter taste as compared to the other meats and a slightly creamy centre, probably due to the cottage cheese.
The kadhai jhinga, a deeply flavoured dish of sautéed fresh shrimps in an onion tomato masala, reminds me of a chunky sweet curry. Goes extremely well with basmati rice.
To ensure crunch in every bite, the khatti meethi gobi is deep-fried before being stir-fried with other sauces. This light dish of cauliflower, cooked with garam masala, paprika and fenugreek leaves, is good on its own or paired with a naan. I like it best when paired with the sweet kashmiri naan.
As with the décor of the restaurant, the moong dal halwa is a mix of modern and tradition. The scoop of Ben & Jerry’s vanilla ice cream highlights the subtle bitter-sweet lentils.
Nicely roasted, the soft, buttery lentils — stirred continuously for two to three hours to prevent burning — is rich and has a fine texture. The sprinkles of roasted pistachio also serve to play up the textures.
Besides a selection of lassi, Zaffron Kitchen also offers beers, wines, champagnes, local must-haves such as teh tarik or kopi-o, and even Graffeo gourmet coffee.
Zaffron Kitchen is a cosmopolitan style restaurant featuring a varied mix of North, South and local Indian favourites. With affordable prices and well-executed dishes, it’s no wonder the restaurant is always filled with both locals and expatriates out for a good meal. I will definitely be back for more!
135/137 East Coast Road
Tel: 6440 6786 | Website
Tuesday – Sunday: 11:30am – 10:30pm