Tiffin Room review: Raffles Hotel Singapore’s North Indian restaurant is fancy, dainty, and unexpectedly fun

Tiffin Room review: Raffles Hotel Singapore’s North Indian restaurant is fancy, dainty, and unexpectedly fun

Carriers of joy

Text: Crystal Lee

Even before its official opening, Raffles Hotel was already seen as one of Singapore's glitziest dining destination, what with the openings of star-studded restaurants like La Dame de Pic, BBR by Alain Ducasse, Yi by Jereme Leung, and Butcher's Block.

You'd think that all these big names would overshadow the hotel's original restaurant, because everyone loves chasing the hot new things. But no. Tiffin Room is just as good as they come — and this is a pretty big deal coming from someone who's not the biggest fan of Indian food.

The cuisine is North Indian, done in British Raj-style with oomphs of flavour. And a gorgeous old-meets-new, East-meets-West interior to match. They serve you papadums with a medley of chutneys and sauces to snack on while you pore over the six-page (dinner) menu deciding what to order. These crackers are almost unremarkable at first — especially when you're focused on your food options — but soon the bowl is empty and we realise how light, crispy and perilously delicious they are, with none of that greasy, metallic aftertaste that we're used to. Of course we had more servings (they're free, by the way). The same goes for the naan (plain, butter, garlic), which is comfortingly warm, pillowy soft and insanely addictive.

And perfectly made for sopping up the exquisite Nalli Roganjosh, a lamb shank with Kashmiri Indian spices and dried red chilli paste. That lamb shank, slow-cooked to oblivion and bathed in a beautiful, mildly hot curry, is some of the best we've ever tasted. The Lucknowi Murgh Biryani (Indian basmati rice with whole spices, chicken, Makhana Salan gravy and raita) was outstanding, too, with its buttery, saffron-coloured rice that is good enough to snack on its own. These mains (also free!) were accompanied by chef Kuldeep Negi's oh-so smooth raitas — one's infused with honey, pineapple and roasted cumin; the other is stirred with fresh mint, onions and roasted garlic.

Circling back to the starters (sorry, the mains were so good, we had to jump the gun), the rich, sweet and succulent tiger prawn skewer (jhinga kebab) almost had us ordering seconds, but didn't because there are more gorgeous dishes to be had. For the vegetarians, there's the lovely Maharaja Kebab Platter with Anari Paneer Kebab (Indian cottage cheese), Mastane Gucchi Kebab (white button mushrooms with cheddar cheese), and Mattar Mawa Kebab (green peas with crushed peanuts) with pineapple salad.

This is Tiffin Room, so of course you get to have fun building your own four-tiered Tiffin box or dabba. There are eight "specialties" you can choose from — chicken breast, prawns, lamb cubes, barramundi, boneless chicken leg, corn kebab, roasted aubergine, and a vegetable medley. We say go for the barramundi (Macher Jhol, with ginger, onions and Indian spices) and the lamb (if only because chef Kuldeep makes such amazing roganjosh), but we really can't imagine you making any bad choices here.

Not with the savouries, anyway. The desserts, on the other hand, aren't to everyone's taste. The sweet milk dumplings with chocolate and saffron and the rice powder brulee with fresh berries we had were just too sweet (is this a sign that we're getting older?) to finish, but if you think about it, aren't most traditional Indian sweets laden with sugar? Still, we've made a mental note to order the mango kulfi on our second visit.

1 Beach Rd, Raffles Hotel
Opening hours: 6.30am-10.30am, 12pm-2pm, 6.30pm-10pm
Tel: 6337 1886