Visiting Little India was like visiting another country. Even though we were only about four subway stops away from home, the setting was vastly different from the Orchard area. The first thing we noticed when we got off the subway was that there were literally thousands of people crammed into any open space available - open green spaces were packed with people lounging around and the sidewalks were so crowded it was difficult to walk around. I felt that pictures did not do the experience justice, so I captured the video below.
Flower necklace vendor
The streets of Little India are very colorful, dotted with dozens of flower necklace stands as well as fruit and vegetable stands. The fruits and vegetables looked extremely fresh, better than the produce we've found in most grocery stores. There were also countless jewelry stores filled with beautiful gold jewelry.
After wandering the streets, Joe and I stopped into the famed Mustafa Center which is open 24 hours a day. The center is huge and basically sells anything and everything. From food to electronics and clothing to toiletries, the store had a massive stock of inventory. I have never seen so much Dove bodywash in one place in my life! And again, we faced what seemed to be thousands of people as we struggled to walk through the various aisles of goodies. Joe and I decided that the store was a little to claustrophobic for us, but that it was a good option to consider if we can't find a product that we need elsewhere (or overnight).
Enjoying dinner at Gayatri
Winding through crowds on an extremely hot summer day worked up our appetites, so we decided it was time for dinner (even though it wasn't even 6pm yet). Joe and I tried Gayatri, a restaurant recommended in the Lonely Planet Guidebook. Luckily, it was a GREAT recommendation. I had looked up the menu online earlier in the day, and given the low prices I didn't expect the restaurant to be as nice as it was. It was a beautiful, peaceful setting with plenty of air conditioning (thank goodness!).
But what surprised us the most was that the restaurant was hi-tech, offering us electronic tablet menus with which we could place our own order. The 16-year-old son of the restaurant owner told us his father was the first restaurant owner in Singapore to implement an electronic ordering system. The teenager was intrigued by Joe, striking up a conversation with us by asking if Joe works out (our young friend was skinny and seemed to aspire to become muscular). We learned that his grandfather was the first family member to move to Singapore from India, and that the teen's father opened the restaurant 16 years ago. We mentioned that we found the restaurant through Lonely Planet, and the teen was really proud and pleased to hear this. It was impressive that such a young kid would spend his Sunday afternoon working at the restaurant, and that he took so much pride in creating a great experience for us.
Joe ordering via tablet
Now to the food... it was delicious! We started off with an appetizer of vegetable samosas, which were veggie-filled dough balls, fried to perfection. They were very flavorful, as most Indian dishes are, with very tasty spices. For the main course, we both had chicken murtabak, which I believe is more of a Singaporean/Indian dish rather than a traditional Indian dish. It is prata bread (thin, pan fried bread) filled with shredded chicken and onions. This has become one of my favorite dishes here in Singapore (thanks to Paige for introducing us to the dish!). And last but not least, I finally got to try a mango lassi, a traditional Indian drink that is yogurt based. By the way, it was my third mango drink of the day... I think I'm obsessed with mango ha ha :)
Gayatri was a great ending to a fun day... although I laugh as I write this because Joe did not seem to be amused by Little India (he prefers more relaxing adventures with fewer crowds). However, Joe did say he would come back to Little India for another meal at Gayatri because it was amazing... and I agree!
Fish head curry promo
In response to Joe's comment on this posting, I had to make one addition to my story. Yes, fish head curry seems to be a very popular dish in Little India (and in Singapore in general). It is a soup with a fish head inside. I've read that the cheek of fish is the best part of the fish. Although I like to keep an open mind and try most foods, I cannot get myself to stomach this dish. It also happens to be quite an expensive dish, usually ranging around $30.