Raring to try a cuisine that’s really hard to find in Singapore? Little India is where you need to be.
But you think I’m referring to the diverse range of Indian eateries, think again.
It’s high time you tried something different for a change at Kunthaville, a restaurant and tea room housed in a century-old conservation shophouse. The multi-concept lifestyle and dining destination specialises in the underrepresented Sri Lankan, or “Ceylonese” cuisine — all plant-based.
Step past the outdoor patio and into the restaurant, which boasts charming black and white colonial-style interiors (history fact: the British ruled in Ceylon before it was renamed as Sri Lanka).
There are two sections: the elegant Tea Room for dining, and a more eclectic Cocktail Lounge for those who wish to imbibe in locally-inspired concoctions and Kunthaville tea.
Interiors aside, you’re in for real treat in the form of vegan-friendly Sri Lankan dishes made using authentic family recipes, but with a contemporary twist.
And don’t let the word “vegan” put you off, because I can assure you that you won’t miss the meat.
Firstly, we got to try tasting portions of the Kunthaville Vallavu Spicy Beetroot Cutlets with Mango, Avocado, and Green Salad in Lime Mustard Dressing (S$12), as well as the Jackfruit Roll (S$14), and both really, really surprised me.
I couldn’t get enough of the fried beetroot cutlets, that were deceptively spicy (but in a good way), infused with aromatic spices, fresh herbs, onions, and chilli.
If you’d rather play it safe, The Colonial Soup Tureen Cream of Roasted Butternut Pumpkin (S$12) is the epitome of “comfort food on a rainy day”, but taken up a notch with ginger, turmeric, and nutmeg — very autumnal.
Those who’ve only tried the thin, crispy version of appam are likely to find themselves agreeing with the Colonial Dutch Oven Sweet Gundappam (S$14 for five). Gundappam — think a mini, fatter and chewy version of appam — is accompanied by a coconut chambal (otherwise known as sambol or sambal) and a drizzle of coconut milk.
You’re supposed to enjoy each gundappam with a small serving of chambal, which guarantees perfect bites every time.
The dish I’d recommend to those new to the cuisine is the Signature Curry Leaf Coconut Rice (S$28); it’s one that encapsulates the essence of a traditional Ceylonese lunch feast. Fluffy Sri Lankan rice is paired with jackfruit curry, sauteed green beans, raw mango chambal and cucumber chambal, yielding a meal that’s wholesome and nutritious, yet packed with flavour.
Dessert is no less exquisite, with options like the Treasures of Ceylon, chilled sago pearls with ruby and emerald jelly in a luscious coconut cream, and Fresh Fruit Steeped in Cinnamon Laced Syrup.
Given that Sri Lanka produces some of the finest tea in the world, washing everything down with a pot of Ceylon tea is a must. You can choose from an exclusive selection of 10 handpicked varieties, including blends like Midnight Vanilla, Masala Chai Magic, and the luxurious Paris Rose.
Pair your tea of choice with a slice of Vegan Cheesecake (S$9) if you like. I may not be a connossieur of vegan cakes, but this was honestly one of the best and most “legit-tasting” renditions I’d ever tried. Seriously.
Need I say more? It’s high time you dipped your toes into the world of Sri Lankan cuisine.
Reservations can be made here.
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Photos by Christabel Tan