When an Indian friend with south Indian roots recommends a restaurant serving Indian food with south Indian roots, you can be sure you’re in for a good meal.
My good friend Rajagopal, who has both Malayalee and Tamil heritage invited me for lunch at Shami Banana Leaf Delights along Sembawang Road, opposite Khatib Camp.
But when I read the write-up displayed on the wall, I realised he had recommended Shami’s original stall at Northpoint Centre foodcourt more than 10 years ago. But this is a business that’s been around even longer than that – since 1993.
One of their specialties is Curry Fish Head, and we ordered that. The restaurant uses Red Snapper fish heads, as one of the owners of the restaurant Mr Murali (the son of the founder and other owner Mr Mangudi) told me when I asked. The fish head was large and fleshy, and the curry was rich, spicy and chockful of the usual additions of chillies, brinjal and ladies’ fingers. And since there were just two of us at lunch – one fish eye for each of us. Overall, very good and something I’d recommend.
In addition, we had a “plain rice and 2 veg set” plus a fish cutlet each. The fish cutlet wasn’t as good as my favourite at Chettinadu Restaurant in Little India, but still of a very good standard.
After our food, we had a cup of Bru coffee each. Some time ago when I was first told about Bru coffee, I thought it was “brewed coffee”, but I’ve since come to learn that Bru is a popular Indian coffee brand with its own distinctive taste. To show that you’re “with it” when it comes to Indian food and drink, do order a cup of Bru coffee when you’re next at a banana leaf outlet.
The restaurant is air-conditioned and modern, and the way the staff are dressed with their hats and aprons is more like in a Western deli than in a banana leaf eatery.
Shami’s is obviously not a secret to those who work nearby. My friend and I met there at 11:15am on a Thursday and were the first ones there for lunch, but by 12 noon, the place was packed. Shami’s Banana Leaf Delights is proof that you don’t need to go to Little India for good banana leaf food.
Meal eaten on Thursday 13 May 2016 at 11:15am.
Fish Head Curry (Medium): $27, plain rice and 2 vegetable set: $3.50 each, fish cutlet: $2.50 each, Bru coffee: $2.50 each
Shami Banana Leaf Delights
349 Sembawang Road
Restaurant opening times: 8am to 8pm daily
Northpoint Shopping Centre food court
Causeway Point food court
Food court opening times: 9:45am to 9pm