Our taxi driver wanted to dump us at the first parking lot on Dempsey Road and we demanded that he take us to the front door of Samy’s Curry. It turned out that the first stop would have been alright – trees blocked the Samy’s Curry sign. So, take note, if you see the Long Beach Seafood Restaurant sign, Samy’s is right next door.
Samy’s Curry serves banana leaf rice, one of the meals I miss the most from South East Asia. Samy’s came with recommendations from two sources I trust and so it went into my eating plan. We were both exhausted after a long morning at the Singapore Zoo (highly recommended!) and the air-conditioned taxi had helped to build our appetites for what lay ahead. We entered the large room and got a table easily for the two of us. We walked out back first to wash our hands and then came back to large glass mugs of lime juice (sweetened and diluted lime juice – so refreshing!).
We were directed to a buffet at the front of the room where we were shown a variety of curries. From this colourful array, we selected a fish bergedil (or fish cutlet, a fried cutlet of spiced mashed fish and potato), golden curry squid, and bright red chicken tikka. Back at our table, banana leaves were being set along with forks, spoons and wet wipes. A waiter came back and forth with a few metal buckets and dolloped piles of each bucket’s contents on our leaves: white rice (we could have had briyani rice instead), vegetable curry and a wet dal that spread on the leaves. Another woman came along and placed a bergedil on the corner of each leaf and metal plates of the curry squid and chicken tikka between us. We were also asked whether we wanted some gravy on top of our rice and I plumped for fish curry. The waiter came back one final time with a basket full of crisp poppadoms.
We ate and we ate and we ate. There was much silence, only broken by my enthusiastic spoon-cracking of a poppadom. I had two helpings of rice; my friend had three helpings of the magnificent dal! The food was just what we needed after a sticky morning at the zoo – the food is well spiced but not heavy with dairy. The smallest pieces of chicken tikka were almost crispy, the squid was so tender, and the dal, oh the dal! These lentils had been stewed with some magical ingredients or something like that to be so delicious. I haven’t yet been able to replicate the dals that I’ve had at banana leaf rice joints but be rest assured that I will share the recipe when I’ve cracked it!
I was reminded how the humidity affects the food here. Poppadoms were stored in a large covered bin and removed only when needed. During the duration of our meal, the poppadoms in our little basket went from fresh and crispy, to slightly stale, to extremely chewy. I could easily bend a poppadom in half at the end of our lunch.
Our bill came to something like $24 Singapore dollars – about £8 in total for the both of us, drinks included.
Blk 25, Dempsey Road
Civil Service Club