Immersive modern Indian bar restaurant Firangi Superstar takes you to another time, place, and palate with its decor, food and drink inspired by British India.
Modern Indian restaurant Firangi Superstar on Craig Road, opened in June this year, is what owners Michael Goodman and Rohit Roopchand of The Dandy Collection call their “whimsical love letter to India”.
And what a flamboyant declaration of love it is.
Stepping into Firangi Superstar feels like stepping into another world. Into another time and place. It’s an altogether surreal, romanticised look at the Indian subcontinent, from its decor all the way down to its food and drink.
The venue is split into four distinct sections. Upon entry is the Officers Club, where the restaurant’s bar is located. It’s a modern reinterpretation of the convivial military institution where serving officers of the British Raj would rest and relax over a few drinks. So impressively done is the space that you’ll spend half your time expecting a Bengal Lancer to rock up to the bar after a successful patrol protecting the northwest frontier from Pashtun raiders, and then kicking back to relax with a Patiala peg of whisky.
On the way to the main dining room you’ll pass by the Old Railway Room. This private room is decked out to look like you’re within a carriage of an intercontinental railway train, as if you’re on your way to visit the vast and wild expanse India has to offer. The cosy main dining hall itself is split into the darkly-lit Elephant Palace and Jungle Lodge; the former is an opulent ode to the Taj Mahal, while the latter sets you in the middle of what feels like a mystical part of the Bengal jungle.
It’s part restaurant, part bar, and all Bollywood movie set.
Speaking of bar – and befitting of its British India aspirations – the cocktail bar at Firangi Superstar has an impressive gin and tonic selection. And with eight different G&Ts too, no less. India was where the gin and tonic was first created after all, so it was gratifying to see some of the versions here employ Indian gins and Indian tonics. The Great Western Railway, for example, combines Colombo No.7 with Svami Original Indian Tonic, while Old Delhi Station puts together Greater Than gin with the same tonic. Balham Station harkens to gin’s British roots, with Hayman’s Old Tom gin and London Essence Tonic.
As you would rightfully imagine, its core cocktail menu also draws Indian ingredients and flavours for inspiration. The Chai Ramos Fizz is the classic gin fizz with notes of chai masala, like a tangy alcoholic iced chai latte of sorts. The spirit-forward Fenugreek Manhattan uses cognac fat-washed with ghee for a velvety mouthfeel, and the fenugreek-infused vermouth turbocharges it with spicy and sweet liquorice notes.
Like the gin fizz the Chai Masala Milk Punch also leverages on spiced tea; this British-style clarified milk punch, we dare say, is exactly what we imagine colonial India could taste like. Then there’s the Mango Collins, because how can we leave out one of the noble fruits of India? This twist on the Tom Collins is refreshing, and is a perfect palate-cleansing foil for the meal that is to come.
Caveat emptor – the food at Firangi Superstar, fine as it is, isn’t authentically Indian as you may expect it to be. It’s more modern Indian, and where Head Chef Thiru Gunasakaran combines his Western culinary training and experience – he was formerly from Spago by Wolfgang Puck – to create whimsical interpretations of Indian flavours he remembers from his childhood. Oh, and the third-generation Indian Malaysian has never been back to the motherland either.
But Chef Thiru’s flourishes are sublime. Sothi Fresh is best described as ceviche done Indian style, the cubes of raw snapper cured in a tangy, spiced Kokum-based dressing. This Is Not Aloo Gobi reimagines the traditional potato and cauliflower dish into a fine-dining one. Then there’s Prata Waffle ???, a cheeky Indian take on the American soul food combination of fried chicken and waffles that puts together waffle iron-pressed roti prata with Madras-style fried chicken. And jaggery syrup in lieu of the usual maple syrup? Pure culinary genius.
Absolutely delicious but somewhat culinarily controversial is Sacred Samosa, a deconstructed samosa featuring French-style beef tartare. We did enjoy the Beirut Bhatura too, which is the classic fried bread – here Chef Thiru usues his mom’s recipe – that comes with a celeriac hummus topped with chana (chickpea) masala. Another wildly fun take is Salvador Thali, essentially an oven-roast slab of pumpkin loaded down with flavours you’ll expect from a burgeoning Kerala-style thali.
The pièce de résistance? The Indian Saddle, which comes as a melt-in-the-mouth lamb porterhouse that’s been smothered in tandoori spices. You won’t get enough of the Indian-style “chermoula”, nor the moreish confit garlic sauce, that comes with it either.
And then it strikes you.
Head Chef Thiru Gunasakaran, he who is a third-generation member of the Indian diaspora and who have never have been to India, is here churning out some of the most striking takes on flavours of his motherland based on pure familial memory alone.
He’s the real firangi superstar.
Address 20 Craig Road #01-03, Singapore 089692 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 12pm to 2.30pm and 5.30pm to 10.30pm Mondays to Fridays; 5.30pm to 10.30pm on Saturdays; closed on Sundays
Tel (65) 6304 3022