Islamic Restaurant has had a long illustrious history of serving local politicos and foreign dignitaries. And in case you weren't aware of this little nugget of information, the blown-up photos of the many luminaries who've walked through Islamic's doors proudly plastered all over the walls of the tiny, hole-in-the-wall eatery will tell you just how many hotshot fans this little non-descript eatery has.
Stepping into the dimly lit eatery is like visiting a friend's home in the 70's, with faded dated tablecloths, mismatched furniture and lots of personal decorative knick knacks doubling up as conversation pieces. Be sure to go early for meals, or to eat at off-peak hours, because the space is so constrained. Oh, and by the way, because of poor ventilation, you will walk out smelling of biryani. If you really need to keep your hair smelling of your shampoo, then you may want to brave the heat and humidity and sit at the tables outside instead.
One thing that struck me about the service here is the Chinese PRC servers behind the counters. It's an overtly literal manifestation of our melting pot culture, where a Chinese man speaks in Malay to serve Indian food. So very cool.
The Prawn Beryani ($10) is the best thing here and you'll do well to order it. You can tell just by looking at it, because almost every grain of fluffy basmati rice is coloured different shades of yellow from the biryani spices. Like the sun rays kissed the rice and imbued it with a rich spiced flavour. Thoroughly flavourful and totally worth all the millions of calories.
Islamic does a fair bit of North Indian cuisine as well but you can just skip it and stick to the Southern fare. The dry and tough Chicken Tikka ($7) isn't worth trying at all. No smoky essence of the tandoor either.
Oh we love the Aloo Gobi ($6) here though. Even if they regularly forget to leave out the damn coriander. The slight peppery hint of cumin and delicate spicing really enlivens the natural sweetness of the cauliflower.
I ordered the Fried Chicken Beryani ($9) to compare with Kamal's version, and Islamic, unfortunately, loses out in this regard. Past the nicely fatty and crispy skin, the flesh was lacking in juiciness and flavour. The rice isn't as tasty as the prawn version as well. There are patches of plain "white-ness" in this.
745 North Bridge Road
Tel: 6298 7563
Open daily from 10am to 10pm