When it comes to gastronomic adventures; Indian tapas and cocktails may sound like unlikely bedfellows but once you have visited innovative eatery Flying Monkey on Bussorah Street, you will be unable to imagine them ever existing apart! In fact, throw out everything you thought you knew about Indian dining, leave your culinary inhibitions at the door and embrace one of the most exciting restaurants in the Lion City.
Bussorah Street is fast becoming a powerhouse on the competitive Singapore food scene, thanks largely to concepts such as Flying Monkey, its neighbour Fabbrica Pizza and other imaginative independent operators that are bringing fresh new eating concepts to the culturally rich district. Flying Monkey adopts many traditional Indian cooking styles and dishes but gives them a modern twist, courtesy of Chef Azad, offering a range of amazing curries for those that enjoy the larger plates, and an array of tapas in smaller plates that redefine the Indian dining experience, and offer a more sociable, shared dining adventure.
The traditional concept with a modern twist is one that has proved hugely popular already with Singapore’s foodies and one that Flying Monkey carries through to its cocktail menu, which, in the hands of talented mixologist Kannan, delivers a unique blend to complement every dish! We accepted an invitation from owner Sumeet, a passionate foodie himself, to join him and enjoy some of the fantastic tapas and cocktail combinations available at Flying Monkey. You know when you are heading to an Indian restaurant called Flying Monkey, that it is not going to be an ordinary experience and, no matter what your expectations going in are, prepare to have them blown away! The team is made up of professionals at the very top of their game and their sole focus is to make sure you have the meal of your life.
Given that we were dining with Sumeet, the man behind the menu and Kannan the cocktail maestro, we threw away the menu (not literally) and put ourselves in their hands for the evening, quite possibly the smartest thing we have ever done. What followed was a taste of some of the finest tapas dishes and the cocktails that complemented them. Sumeet explained that chef Azad takes inspiration from all over India so there are dishes that represent each region, offering a comprehensive insight into one of the most exciting of world cuisines. We started with the Kurkuri bhindi, which is okra crisps coated in spiced gram flour, an addictive light and crunchy beginning that had us competing for the last few crumbs! The kitchen boasts two traditional charcoal tandoors, meaning the food is charcoaled to tender perfection, offering an authentic flavor with a modern twist.
We enjoyed a series of mouth-watering dishes from the tapas menu, including Malai Kebab, a lightly spiced creamy chicken fillet chared in the tandoor; Tulsi cod fillet marinated with basil charred in the tandoor; Prawn Koliwada, south Indian spiced prawn tempura that melted in the mouth; Calamari 65, a much-fabled South Indian dish that is traditionally Chicken 65 but given the flying Monkey twist resulting in delicious, lightly battered calamari rings with curry leaves; Mustard Ghobi, huge cauliflower florettes marinated with mustard charred in the tandoor, which were amongst my favourites and finally the Tandoori chicken, a strong flavoured chicken on the bone marinated in yoghurt and spices, that broke into pieces easily and was tender and juicy. There are a ull range of big plates also available for those that want to enjoy a full curry, as well as some tasty nan breads – we opted for the truffle nan to accompany our tapas, a crispy bread that packed a flavourful punch. To finish off our adventure, we braced ourselves for two desserts; Jalebi – a crispy Indian pretzel dipped in aromatic syrup and Kulfi – the homemade saffron and pistachio ice cream that our friends had talked incessantly about. The Jalebi was highly addictive, Sumeet explained that some people drop in specifically for that dish, something I have no trouble believing. The ice cream offers one of those moments where you’re not sure what you’re eating until all the flavours unfold and you just can’t get enough. It’s another one of those talking points that every great meal should have. The quality of the food is of the very highest order, the flavours offering multiple taste explosions but it is the style of dining that sets it off. It’s casual, it’s fun, it’s homely and most of all it’s delicious. It’s a winner!
We can’t underestimate the role that the cocktails played in the evening, not only the taste but the theatre involved in making them. Look out for a full feature on this menu in its own right. Kannan is a well-known character on the Singapore nocturnal scene, having plied his craft at many of the city’s cooler establishments. One of Sumeet’s many talents has been to find the right people to work with and I Azad and Kannal he has seen his culinary dream well and truly realized. You know when someone is very good at what they do when they make it look so easy. Kannal talked us through each of the cocktails on the list as he made them, from the signature Flying Monkey – Monkey Shoulder whisky, King’s Ginger, Jaggery Syrup and bitters – with its strong, dark flavor to the Mind It! – Monkey 47 gin infused with jasmine, maple syrup, fresh mint and lemon, which offered a distinctive smell and refreshing taste. One of the highlights was the making of the Monkey on Fire – Monkey shoulder whisky, grand marnier, maraschino, honey, 3-spice and coconut water – as Kannan transferred the alcohol, on fire between two containers, a couple of feet apart. It loked spectacular and tasted just as good, with the coconut water cooling it to the perfect drinking temperature. Other highlights worth trying include Flying Monkeys twist on the traditional Lassi (Goa Mamma Lassi) – fabbri mango & passion fruit, vodka, plantation dark rum and yoghurt – which could have been on the dessert menu it was so sweet.
Whether you are a self-respecting foodie or just someone that enjoys a great dining experience, you have to visit Flying Monkey. From the warm welcome that awaits everyone to the unbelievably good menu, both food and drinks, it’s a culinary adventure you will want to repeat time and again. Our advice would be drop in at the weekend when Bussorah Street becomes pedestrian and there’s a band playing on the road, it makes for a cool, carnival atmosphere, perfect for the fun and games that can be had with this truly unique menu.
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