Aberdeen Street welcomes another restaurant in an area slowly becoming a dining hotspot. Newly opened Bindaas (colloquial Hindi for ‘chilled out’) opens its doors to an ambience and a menu that can be suitably placed into the ‘trendy, fusion’ category. The décor is a snazzy juxtaposition of traditional and modern, with high tables, grey and white monotones, set against the backdrop of a ‘centrepiece’ bar patterned unapologetically with bold crimson geometry.
Chef Mrigank Singh brings with him a menu that reflects his ‘glocal’ approach to food- creating each dish to best represent its origins, and also its future. This was evident in the extensive menu, including street food, small plates, curries, sides (all with almost equal selections of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes), and, of course, the desserts. Each dish is made to order (therefore entirely distinguishable from others that might share similar bases or masala tempering), bringing with it unique flavours and textures, so that there is something that appeals to everyone.
The cocktails (and their virgin versions) are clever, creative puns based on movies, adding a ‘desi tadka’ to otherwise rather generic margaritas, mojitos and martinis. Case in point my Kala Khatta Margarita ($85), which was sour and sweet, came served in a way that did justice to the very nice couture I was wearing that evening, but one sip, and I might as well have been standing on Mumbai’s Juhu beach, knee-deep in sand, taking pleasurable though un-lady like slurps of a chuski (Indian ice lollies).
Further off the streets, the Aloo Tikki ($68) came in the form of tender potato cakes, seasoned-well and crispy on the outside. These were almost as good as the sweetened butter Pao (so similar to a Chinese bao) that came served with its more traditional counterpart, a vegetarian Pau Bhaji ($98), and in which the tomatoes and potatoes were married so well, it was almost creamy and not chunky in its consistency. On the other hand, the Mutton Shami Kabab ($148) was so damn tender and tasty with melt-in-your mouth meat cooked down to a smooth consistency and incorporated with chickpeas so that the kebabs held their shape during both the cooking process and while I was knifing them mercilessly into the accompanying condiments (not that these were at all required given the rich, salty meaty flavour of the mutton).
Off the tandoor, Do Phool ($98) (broccoli and cauliflower marinated in yoghurt) had the signature scent and taste of foods prepared in clay ovens, smoky and earthy, perhaps even more intriguing than the Achari Paneer ($128) (fragrant skewers of cottage cheese glazed with a mustard mango sauce), which were seasoned well, but didn’t stand out in the array of food on the table. One dish that did, was the restaurant’s signature NaanZa, where fusion flavours and preparation truly surfaced in the form of a naan-based pizza- both the vegetarian Khurmi ($108) and non-vegetarian Chilli Chicken ($118) (flavoured Manchurian-style) versions were exactly in terms of the ‘Indianized’ amendments we might ask regular Pizza restaurants to make to our slices- crispy, salty, textured, not soggy with cheese, and with enough spice to cut though to the base. But what stole the show were the Ghee Roasted Prawns ($148), which were fragrant and perfectly charred; the dry roast cooking style and use of ghee ensuring that the red hot spices absorbed into the actual prawns, making them the spiciest dish of the evening, but also the most exciting.
Whereas the small plates were representative of the Spanish tapas-style fusion with traditional Indian street food, the curries (in shareable portions) were cooked more traditionally. Each of the curries, whether vegetarian like the Makai Palak ($88) (golden corn in a rich spinach puree), or non-vegetarian, like Goan Pork Vindaloo was well-prepared, devoid of artificial flavours, offering a subtle modern interpretation by way of more refined ingredients, including free range chicken and Australian lamb chops. Perhaps the curry that rose a notch above the rest was the Bindaas Chicken Tikka Masala ($148), smoky pieces of succulent chicken sitting in a luxurious curry, waiting to be swept up with fluffy pieces of butter naan.
We ended our meal with the ‘Paan’Cotta ($78), the incorporation of Indian betel leaf and rose flavours in the form of a very traditional looking Italian Panna Cotta. I didn’t think this would work; I was intrigued, and so very wrong. The baked cream held the sharp flavours of sweetened fennel, betel nut, and the sugary preserve of rose petals so well, acting as both a dessert and palate cleanser.
The prices at Bindaas are fairly comparable to Western style quality tapas restaurants, but given the laid back vibe, it works very well as a place to socialise with friends and family over interesting cocktails and colourful plates of food, or simply if you’re craving some spicy street food on the side of a cold beer after a long day at work.
Bindaas | 33 Aberdeen St, Central | +852 2447 9998.