My family's been eating at Samy's since I was a young 'un, loooong before Dempsey is what it is now. Despite the fact that the area has become a lot more touristy, I was relieved to discover that the prevalence of Caucasians and franchising of this brand didn't translate to watered down curries. The spiciness of the food has, thankfully, stayed pretty consistent.
The place still looks like what it used to: a conserved colonial house that's kept reasonably spic and span, cooled solely by industrial ceiling fans and furnished with no-fuss plastic tables and chairs. Because of the lack of air-conditioning, this place is great for cool weather days, but not so much during the muggy humid mid-year months. This is strictly a casual tees-and-shorts ensemble dining place, so don't expect much of the service here. It's all business, it is.
Samy's version of the local classic, Curry Fish Head ($27 for medium) has got sourish assam undertones. The gravy's still lemak with the rich creamy essence of coconut milk, but the sour elements makes this a little piquant, a little lighter than the usual lemak versions. The fish was huge (so there was a lot of meat to go around) and fresh, so the mild flaky flesh was set off very well against the rich gravy.
The Curry Mutton ($12 for large) was a surprising discovery. I've never been a fan of mutton but this was pleasantly fresh. Soft and tender meat dunked in a tomato-tinged curry that was at the same time sweet, tangy and spicy.
The Curried Prawns ($12) was swimmingly fresh, succulent, and simmered in a potent gravy.
We wanted aloo gobi but got this mixed vegetable Gobi ($10) instead. Compared to the rest of the hits, this wasn't great. It was too milky and lacking in flavour. Suffice to say, we didn't finish it.
A better alternative, should you be inclined to getting your day's fibre intake, is the addictively delicious Cauliflower Tandoori ($10), the natural sweetness of cauliflower enhanced by the tandoori spice.
Most of us opted for the Briyani Rice ($3.20 per person), fluffy, long grained basmati rice that's fragrant and oh-so-flavoursome and, which I'd happily eat on its own with a liberal dousing of curry.
The accompanying Cabbage Dhal ($cost already in-built with the briyani rice) looks like baby food mush but take my word for it, it's delicious. Mild and sweet but imbued with incredible flavour from cumin and tumeric, this is why Indian vegetables are awesome. By the way, there are free refills of this so don't be shy in asking for seconds. Or thirds and fourths.
The Masala Chicken ($4.70) at Samy's is incomparable. This is seriously the best masala chicken anywhere. No contest. A definite MUST-TRY. It's potent and sweet and spicy as hell, but the thick paste will have you licking off every inch of this moist and tender chicken. Ask for the thigh bit, it's juicier. By the way, this is really spicy so you've been warned. You'll end up with a churning stomach for the rest of the day (and night!), but this is so worth it.
No curry-centric meal is complete without yummy freshly deep-fried papadoms to scoop/soak up all that rich curry.
25 Dempsey Road
Tel: 6472 2080
Open everyday except Tuesday from 11am to 3pm for lunch and 6pm to 10pm for dinner