Just a stone’s throw away from the gargantuan Golden Mile Food Centre sits a meek collection of food stalls in an easy-to-miss coffeeshop. Yet, as lunchtime approaches, it’s hard to ignore the line of eager customers stretching from one stall in particular – Koothurar Nasi Briyani.
No menu, no prices on display, nothing save for the stall’s name proudly displayed in mismatched colours. They expect – no, demand – patrons know exactly what they serve.
The efficient staff instilled in me the apprehension that came with ordering anxiety as they swiftly meted out order after order. Fumbling a curt exchange with the cashier, I couldn’t help but feel like I had somewhat cumbered this magnificently oiled machine.
What I tried at Koothurar Nasi Briyani
Sheepishly walking away with my plate of Mutton Nasi Briyani (S$8), I was startled by its heft. I haven’t been quite as receptive to mutton since my 2 years of being subjected to SATS Food’s idea of cooked lamb, but this could just be the thing to flip my aversion on its head.
The rich, sensuous aroma hinted at a liberal use of spices, enhancing its mouth-watering effect. Like a resplendent dawn, the white basmati rice produced an illusory shimmer amidst golden-yellow to orange grains.
The mastery behind each plate of nasi briyani really shows through the meat’s flushed hues. To serve so many plates with this consistency of doneness undoubtedly takes experience. It was oh-so-satisfying to feel my fork meet the browned surface before cleanly impaling the rest, tough in all the right places but not requiring copious chewing.
The basmati rice acted as a buffer to temper my pace, with fluffiness like a gradient that built up to each piece of succulent flesh. I could almost imagine myself bathed in all that masala as dose after dose of sultry fragrance massaged my nostrils.
There was a deeply savoury gravy that had been layered over the mutton and surrounding rice, sufficiently thick to contrast the relative lightness of the latter two.
I couldn’t resist gliding my spoon across the bone to cleave whatever meat was still clinging on. It was an actual ‘fall-off-the-bone’ moment that encapsulated its overall tenderness.
If there was one thing I had to deem redundant, it would be their dalcha. Under siege from the basmati rice, masala and mutton, it was difficult to make out the stew. Sipping it on its own uncovered some mushy potatoes and a less pronounced curry smell.
One problem with eating too fast is that it oversaturates your taste buds with flavours. As a palate cleansers for Koothurar’s nasi briyani, the quantity of achar was woefully inadequate. A simple remedy was to slow down but that was really a tall order.
Indeed, Koothurar Nasi Briyani had purged most of my misgivings about mutton.
Since they hadn’t prepped the chicken when I had made my first order, I had to queue again for the Ayam Nasi Briyani (S$7.50), this time with no mishaps. Like the Mutton Nasi Briyani, its size was imposing.
Parting the chicken revealed pearlescent striated fibres that separated with the thinnest of strands between them, no sign of appalling chalky overcooked flesh. Subsequent bites confirmed its juiciness.
The chicken skin imbued with the gravy’s flavours was to die for, and dare I say, possibly eclipsed the mutton in grandeur. I almost wished the portions had been smaller so I could comfortably finish both plates on my own.
Be advised that despite being indoors, the coffeeshop is still inexplicably warm. You’ll want to chope a table in range of a wall fan.
Apart from the uncomfortable queue and possibly extraneous portions, I found no faults with the nasi briyani from Koothurar Nasi Briyani. The formula of cooking up scrumptious food and letting word-of-mouth handle the rest has worked out splendidly. Their portions have demonstrably proven to be worthy of my ‘big eater’ stamp of approval. You won’t leave hungry.
Orders come with an egg for S$0.50 by default, so give it a miss if you’re not confident you can finish. I highly recommend you arrive before their opening time of 11am to get a good spot in the queue.
Expected damage: S$7 – S$8 per pax
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