When it comes to local hawker dishes, the battle for supremacy can be hotly debated or downright savage. Nasi briyani is no different, and no stranger to the rivalries or disputed claims and opinions.
Loyal customers zealously preach the credibility, authenticity and deliciousness of their favourite stalls. There’s almost no changing their minds and very real disputes and rivalries have boiled over between stall owners.
Dare I claim Koothurar Nasi Briyani to be the best in Singapore? No, but, they’re definitely in the mix. The perpetual queue that snakes out the coffeeshop from the moment they open till they close is telling of their reputation.
Their dominance of the coffeeshop is another not-so-subtle clue; sharing the space with two other food stalls that seem to be there simply for variety’s sake, their patronage is non-existent in comparison to their neighbour’s.
Nasi briyani mutton ($6) is a clear favourite among the customers. By taking a few minutes to observe other tables and listening to orders being called out, it’s clear that the dark, gamy meat is king here.
Every order comes with a sizeable chunk of mutton dripping in a comforting and savoury dark brown curry.
Peeling the meat of the bone with ease is quite simply essential for any nasi briyani worth eating. Not just for mutton but for chicken ($6) and fish ($6) as well, and that’s exactly what you get at Koothurar Nasi Briyani.
Hues of orange and yellow give nasi briyani its most recognisable feature. Cooked in massive pots, and dished plate by plate by one man, dedicated to the very task. The fragrance of the spices used waft from the fluffy mound of basmati rice.
A combination of spices and ghee make the rice irresistible, and not finishing the entire plate never crossed my mind. Wasted food after all, is a sin.
A hard-boiled egg and achar (pickled vegetables) complete every plate of nasi briyani at this little gem at Beach Road. The only thing I wished for was more achar, which provides refreshing bits of crunch between mouthfuls of the dish.
Like a well-oiled machine, the men running Koothurar keep the queue moving fast. Each focused on their assigned task, which keeps the stream of customers from turning into an angry mob.
While other establishments in the business of selling Indian Muslim Food round the clock continue to jostle to be the top dog, Koothurar Nasi Briyani swiftly, quietly and steadily feed their customers daily, just for a few hours. A mark of a good product if I’ve ever seen one.
Expected damage: $6 – $8