We had high hopes for Little India, a culture-specific neighborhood enclave in Singapore, if for nothing other than because we love Indian food. Armed with a restaurant recommendation from a friend we went in search of 'Lagnaa' for a barefoot dining experience. We asked to sit upstairs, glancing around at the full house on the ground floor this is not a well-known option. After being asked to remove our shoes we were shown to an air conditioned room that we had all to ourselves. Once seated on the floor our server presented another dimension to consider.
We hadn't expected to find a spicy challenge; on a scale of one to ten, how hot can you handle it? It was suggested we try the chicken appetizers to determine our 'spicy' level. They come at an 'easy' 1.5 - perhaps a little hotter than anything we usually make and delicious! We decided to make a small jump to level two for the rest of our meal and were glad we hadn't tried to climb higher. Our curries were spicy and flavourful; it was a wonderful meal. A person eating at level three or higher receives a peg on which to write their name and that gets pegged up on the 'wall of fame'. On the scale of one to ten only one peson has made it to a nine and no-one has reached ten! The restaurant has been doing this for more than ten years.
We walked around Little India for a while and with the exception of the restaurant and our experience there, finally declared it a little disappointing. The Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple was hidden under construction scaffolding and the streets were mostly uninteresting and a little run down (below). We decided to walk the fifteen minutes over to the next culture-specific neighbourhood enclave; Arab Street and surrounds.
We had not visited Arab Street on our previous visit and it was a very pleasant surprise, preferring it over Little India and Chinatown. The Sultan Mosque forms the focal point and many of the little streets around it are pedestrian only. It was colourful and lively with lots to look at.
Lots of carpet and light shops -
Quite a few fragrance houses - and that reminds me, the SMELL of Arab Street and surrounds is marvelous! Each shop burns their own incense, near the entrance so that it doesn't overwhelm the shop and at the same time it wafts over passersby, inviting them to come in. We loved it!
Lots and lots of fabric shops, vibrant colours and beautiful textiles -
This tiny street was filled with fascinating shops and eateries -
Like this one, which appealed to our spiritual side but we first noticed the planter boxes (stacked on the left hand side) each filled with a different herb. These are used in the fresh dishes they serve. Too bad we were still stuffed from lunch! But we're impressed with Arab Street and have promised ourselves a return visit in April. This area is a lovely gem in a city of high rises!
Note on current exchange rate: SGD$1.00 is about US$0.80 is about ZAR8.00