Daawat Tandoori North Indian Cuisine
Location: 207 Upper Thomson Road, Yew Lian ParkOpening Hours: Daily 11am-11pm
WARNING - This place is not 100% vegetarian
Here is a look at the vegetarian section of the menu. There are many other dishes in the menu that are vegetarian, other than this page. This place is famous for their tandoor food, so I was a little disappointed that there is only one vegetarian option for the tandoor (paneer tandoor). There should have been a vegetable tandoor also - With potato, cauliflower, corn etc, as all those foods cook well in a tandoor. Price wise, I was pleasantly surprised that the cost of the dishes was not too high, but as with most Indian food, you can expect to pay around $15 per person.
I'm someone who is admittedly quite picky about naan bread. Here is the Plain Naan which we ordered separately. What the chef succeeded in doing well was he evenly spread the dough on the tandoor - Therefore the thickness of the naan is consistent throughout the whole bread. What I think could have been improved is more charring on the underside of the bread, without the charring an integral element of the aroma and flavour of naan is missing. Overall certainly a tasty and well textured naan, but slightly longer inside the tandoor was needed to really bring out the true flavour.
Price: $2.50. 7/10
The dish/meal that certainly represents the best value is the Vegetarian Set Meal. This dish, which is more or less a thali has many small components all centered around the briyani rice. For this meal, you get the choice of plain, butter or garlic naan. As well as for dessert the choice of ice cream or gulab jamun, and tea or coffee. Apart from those, the other small components include (this writers favourite) palak paneer, daal, curd, potato patty and an unusual fruit curry, which I will touch upon later. The palak paneer was the standout of this thali. The paneer was silky, and the spinach sauce was strong in garlic and packed with flavour.
Here is a closer look at the fruit curry I just mentioned. I have seen many types of Indian cuisines which mix fruit in curry - Most notoriously navratan kurma. This was a very mildly spiced curry which an assortment of fruits inside, along with paneer. You wouldn't think fruit in curry would go well together, but it actually makes for a good match - Assuming the curry base is mild.
This is the dessert that comes with the vegetarian set meal, I opted for the Gulab Jamun. Non-Indian eaters may want to exercise caution whenever ordering Indian desserts. They are famed for having a quite incredible amount of sugar content, this may be too much to bare for those not attuned to this cuisine. Gulab jamun centres around a small ball, which has a sponge cake texture. This texture absorbs the sugar syrup, which the ball is swimming in. It's a small dessert, but looked classy upon arrival, and although too sweet for my Western palette, I still had no trouble finishing it.
Vegetarian Set Meal Price: $11.90. 7/10
I was keen to test out some of the other vegetarian curries Daawat was selling. Starting with the Aloo Gobi. It's simple - Potato and cauliflower cooked in a dry spice curry. Yet there are thousands of intricate complexities and varieties to this dish. Where this aloo gobi is open to praise is the way the vegetables were cooked. They had a delightful smokey taste, which was not derived from fenugreek, but rather skillful cooking by the chef. The potatoes were the standout, Daawat uses yellow potatoes in their cooking, which are the best for this type of dish. The potato is firm yet soft and absorbs the curry flavour. A little too much salt, but overall a great dish.
Price: $7.50. 8/10
One of my most beloved vegetables is ladyfingers, therefore my curiosity was tickled by this Bhindi Masala. One common mistake that non-100% veg Indian restaurant always make is they assume that if curries don't have meat in, then they are somehow lacking flavour. This means the chef usually adds more spices into non-meat dishes. This is unnecessary in my opinion, as vegetables and paneer also have great flavour without drowning them in spice. Although I quite enjoyed this curry, it fell victim to the aforementioned flaw. There was a little too much spice, and consequently it cancelled out the flavours of the vegetables inside. I would have preferred a milder curry, with a little more sauce.
Price: $7.00. 6/10
Conclusion - As vegetarians, there is often that inevitable confrontation when going to dinner with meat-eaters and needing to select a restaurant/eatery that pleases everyone's diet. Indian veg/non-veg eateries, such as Daawat, are the best solution to this conflict - As the menu is usually split 50/50 for vegetarian and non-vegetarian. The vegetarian dishes at Daawat were sometimes too over-powering with spices and salt levels were a little too high. Nevertheless, the palak paneer was exceptional and the aloo gobi also had wonderful qualities. I would definitely consider this place when dining with meat eaters, but wouldn't visit again if not under that scenario. An honourable mention must go to the staff who are impeccable - Moreover, there is no GST or service charge, which is sensational for a restaurant so service driven.
Food - 7/10
Service - 9/10
Value - 7/10