Dancing barefoot: Review of Lagnaa Restaurant, Singapore
After some audible um-ing and ah-ing much to NewMan's amusement, I have decided to include restaurant reviews in this blog because a) I think it's nice to recommend somewhere we've enjoyed to other potential travellers, b) I quite like writing about food, c) I like eating food even more so now I will insist that we go out to dinner more "for the blog darling, for the blog". Win-win-win.
I am therefore happy that my first restaurant review is such a worthy subject.
Lagnaa in Little India, Singapore was recommended to us by, err, Google. We had struggled to find anywhere which grabbed our attention during our walk around town that day so we turned to the internet powers that be, and they didn't disappoint. Almost hidden half way down Upper Dickson Road alongside very modest looking food outlets, Lagnaa immediately looks and feels different. It's always a good sign when you can "feel" a restaurant before you've even sat down at a table.
However sitting down on a chair wasn't our only option. Lagnaa prides itself on its "barefoot dining" experience and motto and to this end customers are invited to sit upstairs in a room where shoes are forbidden and chairs are absent. Sitting, crouching, lying and lounging on the floor is completely accepted and indeed I got the impression that Lagnaa has a very popular following because of this. Boringly NewMan and I sat at a table on the ground floor surrounded by a mix of ex-pat Singapore residents, Singapore natives and like us, passing by tourists.
We were then "briefed" on the menu by who we correctly assumed was the head chef, a charming man who spent as much time sat chatting with customers as he did in the kitchen. He explained that every fortnight they invite past and regular customers to taste and test a number of dishes which are then voted and a select menu of specials created. This accompanies the "standard" menu which is a mix of southern and northern Indian dishes. In all my m(any) years of curry eating never before has the difference between cooking in southern and northern India been explained to me so thank you Lagnaa for enlightening me. Lagnaa also opened up our eyes when they explained that they cooked all food according to a scale of chilli levels, i.e. you can pick how spicy your food is. They advised us that most people don't venture above level 3 of 10 and it was suggested to us that we try a 1.5 spicy chicken starter, which we did with eye watering shock at how spicy this was. We ashamedly requested our main dishes not exceed Level 1. The chilli scale taunted us. "Level 1: Not bad, can!".NewMan chose one of the specials, an asparagus chicken tandoori type dish and I selected a creamy mushroom and cashew chicken curry. We shared rice and a paneer and spinach side dish and they made a peshwari naan bread especially for me when I commented that it wasn't on the menu. Friendly, informative, accommodating, barefoot... is it ticking all your boxes too?Over our delicious dinner we confidently debated that maybe we could have handled upgrading one of our dishes to a Level 2, but that was mainly because we were intimidated by the numbers of pegs hanging alongside Levels 3 - 9, including photographs (because they're that special!) for those insane/brave/superhuman enough to have succeeded eating a whole dish of Level 8 or 9. Upon reflection, I'm not ashamed, if it meant enjoying the meal as much as we did then I am quite happy to not even be worthy of a peg on the Lagnaa Chilli Level Chart.Our food was delicious, undeniably fresh and promptly and proudly served. We enjoyed every mouthful and throughout the evening we marvelled at the numerous scrawlings from patrons past from virtually all four corners of the globe.Despite being full to bursting we ordered a mango kulfi (Indian super creamy ice cream) and when they produced a pistachio one instead we were given our correct order, a thousand apologies and an extra plate of treats; another dish we didn't need but was devoured nonetheless. The total cost of the meal was extremely reasonable for what the experience we gained (I think it was just under £30 each for three courses and too many beers!).
We rolled out of the restaurant and were guided by the blindingly festive Diwali lights towards a taxi and a thoroughly enjoyable food coma.
For more information about Lagnaa visit their website.
Frances M. Thompson
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