Mission: To respond thoughtfully and responsibly to my experiences of drinking and dining at restaurants with regard to the quality, service, preparation, presentation and overall experience received thereat. The standpoint is one who respects the crafts of the chef and sommelier and who seeks to understand their choices in the kitchen and cellar and grow in knowledge. In this, I will seek to be fair, reasoned, direct and constructive and aim to keep my ego in check on our mutual journeys through the worlds of food and wine.
Thursday, June 13, 2013
Rang Mahal - Fire and spice, massive mark up on wines.
Bored with the usual Crystal Jade routine, it was suggested that we go try top end Indian cuisine for a change. Good as the Crystal Jade continues to be, sometimes the belly just needs some spice with the rice. The Rang Mahal at the Pan Pacific got suggested by Ell Tee, saying that as a lunchtime regular the food was good. So. Decided.
Established in 1971, the Rang Mahal offers fine-dining Indian cuisine and serves "traditional authentic North Indian food" and seeks to achieve top standard dishes using the finest ingredients complemented with award-winning service standards. It had recently reopened following renovations and now sports a modern look that presumably seeks to marry a contemporary ambiance with the timeless elegance for which the Rang Mahal was presumably known.
Elegant it certainly was, with a circus like entrance along a dimly lit red draped dark tunnel and into the elegantly tabled brown and beige that was the main dining area. The ambiance was Western modern, with occasional ornamental nods to a Moghul heritage. A nice touch was bright mandalas being projected onto the ceiling from lamps nestled in a central room divider.
For a Saturday night, it was about 40% full, mostly guests of Indian descent which usually speaks more about the quality than a bookful of reviews.
We shared Tandoori Chicken on the bone which had a marinade of fresh yoghurt and garam masala. The spice was not as fiery as expected, but was nicely warming so as not to burn the mouth. The chicken was lovely, tender and succulent.
We also shared the Palak Paneer, a wholesome cottage cheese cooked in spinach based gravy with chopped onion, garlic and green chillies. The spinach gravy had a gunky like texture which laid a healthy green underlay for the cubes of presumably roasted cottage cheese. The combination felt somewhat lighter than Palak Paneer tasted elsewhere, presumably due to the quality of ingredient used. It definitely benefitted from pairing it with the garlic nan to firm things up.
Star of the night was the Raarha Gosht, a robust delicacy of lamb chunks cooked in fiery hand pounded spices. The sauce was spice heaven, with a thickish texture that the lamb had soaked in during the cooking. The lamb itself was excellent, tender and evidently young given the absence of toughness in the chew.
We also had what tasted like stoneground wholewheat pappadum which was a revelation - all goodness and organic. Also a pepper flatbread that was a bit too peppery for taste.
The food certainly felt many degrees finer than the banana leaf available on the streets. The spices were well blended and the sauces warmed without burning,
We'd brought a Rose Champagne NV and a Cloudy Bay Te Koko 2009 at The Oaks. New friend Jackie at the Great World City branch had suggested the fizz as a good partner for Indian cuisine and the discount sold it. Te Koko is an old friend, and I figured the pedigree and breeding of the wine would undercut any fire that the cuisine might throw at it. Both went pleasantly well with the spicy food. The Rose bubbles gave a fruit note and cleansed the light fire on the tongue whilst the Te Koko had lovely depth and length and body and full mouth of toasty limes. Both had low to middling acidity which helped tame the fires of the spices, whilst the complexity and texture of the Te Koko made for a delightful sip throughout the evening.
One occasionally feels a bit squeezed when having to pay top dollar for Indian cuisine, given the quality one can find on the streets of Little India in Singapore and Brickfields in KL. Not with Rang Mahal - this was very fine Indian Cuisine and worth the price of admission.
The one sour note came with the bill. We were told corkage was S$40 and were a bit miffed when it came out at S$50, as an apparent result of us having champagne. Hmmmm…. And the wine markups were severe - the Te Koko we had brought was more than double the price I'd paid for it. Add the 10% plus service tax and if you're boozy then you're looking at quite an expensive evening.
So…. I guess we got what we paid for in food terms. The chefs prepared the food well and excellently and the service was quick and efficient. Easy ambiance fis perfect for business meetings and the sense of spotlessness is heartening. But the corkage….. If there's a next time, we'll bring beer. See how they charge corkage for a bottle of Tiger...
Pan Pacific Hotel Singapore
7 Raffles Boulevard
Lunch: 12:00pm to 2.30pm (Daily)
Dinner: 6.30pm to 10.30pm (Daily)
(65) 6333 1788