When it comes to briyani, I’d like to think that I have a refined palate for it. Every briyani that I have eaten while writing for SethLui.com has been nothing short of mind-blowing. It’s come to the point where I’d compare every briyani that I ate to the very best ones. And yes, nothing comes close. So, I came to Bismi Biryani, located at Yishun Park Hawker Centre, with an open mind.
Admittedly, it’s better known for its near-absurd briyani platter than its actual briyani, which prompted me to give it a go. Bismi Biryani is founded by 25-year-old Sheik Mohammad. When the day came to sign the agreement to open his stall, it was also the same day that PM Lee Hsien Loong announced the start of the circuit breaker.
He didn’t let that deter him as he continued operations from his flat, but even that had to cease when there was a temporary ban on home-based businesses. He then focused his attention on perfecting his recipe and was finally able to start renovations for his hawker stall when Phase 2 began.
What I tried at Bismi Biryani
Despite having an eating buddy with me, we listened to our arteries and opted out of their many different biryani platter sets, such as Combo Platter (S$34), Surf & Turf Platter (S$46) and King Platter (S$74). Instead, we had the Lambchop Biryani (S$7.50) and Grilled Chicken Kabsa (S$6.50). Other solo-eating friendly items include Lambshank Mandhi (S$14.50) and Fried Chicken Sambal Biryani (S$6.50).
I was somewhat disappointed that it didn’t have the classic mutton briyani. Also missing was the chicken briyani which is usually cooked along with basmati rice.
First off was the Lambchop Biryani, which came with a bowl of goat curry and a side of onion and cucumber salad. The rice definitely has a milder look to it as compared to the overly vibrant orange and yellow hue that we often associated with briyani. I also appreciated the fact that the rice only used spices, saffrons and rose water without any artificial colouring involved.
Unfortunately, mild could also be used to describe the flavours of the rice. Imagine your standard briyani flavours of turmeric, masala powder and cloves, but watered down twice — that was exactly how it tasted. It was also quite dry, and frankly, I’m not even sure how you can make rice dry without being undercooked (which it wasn’t). I found myself sipping on my drink after nearly every spoonful of rice.
Thankfully, the lamb chop was tender and easy to cut through, but it wasn’t fall-of-the-bone tender like how some online reviews suggested. As far as flavours go, it tasted mostly of the gravy that it was covered with. Well, at least it wasn’t gamey.
For the price, I felt that the portion was slightly on the low side as the piece I received had a ‘T’ shaped bone that took up maybe 30% of the lamb. I found myself rationing the pieces to last my entire plate.
Up next was the Grilled Chicken Kabsa. My expectation was quite low the minute I ordered the dish, as the chicken had already been grilled and was left in a heated pan of sorts. My sixth sense told me that the grilled chicken was going to be a really dry affair. It came with a watery curry and the same onion & cucumber salad.
The kabsa rice was made using 5 spices, ghee, saffron and rose water — something I was only aware of when I wrote this review as it almost tasted like ordinary rice with just a hint of smokiness. And really, it shouldn’t be the case as our plate had a piece of cinnamon stick in the rice.
The biggest letdown of the afternoon had to be the grilled chicken, and to cut things short, it was as dry as it looked. Usually, I could ignore an overcooked dish if the flavours were at least decent, but the chicken tasted entirely of turmeric and salt. I’m not sure where the marination that consisted of a variety of spices and masala went.
In fairness, I thought the portion of the grilled chicken leg was quite generous — if only I could say the same thing about its seasoning.
Both the curries were quite average. It tasted like fish curry, the ones you usually get along with your prata. It did help us down our meals better which was a godsend. The only difference between both curries was that one was thicker and the other was watery, but they tasted quite similar to one another.
Another condiment that we had was green chilli sauce. It had a pretty potent kick, though I felt that the raw chilli taste was too prominent, and served as a distraction from the little flavours the rice already had.
To be clear, it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve eaten despite being critical about it. It just fell short as a briyani dish. The rice, which was supposed to be the highlight of the dish, didn’t live up to expectations, even when compared to your run-of-the-mill briyani spots.
At least social eaters and mukbangers have a unique spot for their huge food platter cravings.
Expected damage: S$6.50 – S$7.50 per pax
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