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Food

Bhai Sarbat Restaurant, Kampong Glam: “A praise-worthy pivot that started with a humble cup of teh tarik”

Last Updated: October 9, 2020

Written by Noor Syafiq

On most nights, the snaky alleyways of Kampong Glam are teeming with hip and eager twenty-somethings, looking for spots to hang with friends over drinks and food. The atmosphere here is always convivial and filled with creative energy—vibrant and colourful street murals plaster the walls along the shophouses, buskers belt out Malay classics on their acoustic guitars, and over-enthusiastic waiters try all ways and means to rope in customers to patronise their restaurants.

It’s safe to say that Kampong Glam permeates a laid-back charm, and true to this fashion, there is one small outlet that perfectly embodies this spirit like no other—the famed Bhai Sarbat Teh Tarik stall along Bussorah Street. This stall, which occupies a space no larger than the size of a small bedroom, demands long queues and full houses on weeknights due to a simple beverage much loved amongst the Muslim-Malay community—the teh tarik.

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The faithful will know Bhai Sarbat, which means ‘water man’ in Hindi, as 49-year-old Mr Asgar, who was given the reins to run the humble stall by his uncles in the 90s and has been doing so ever since. The business has presumably done well over the years—today, the brand has expanded to include a full-sized, air-conditioned restaurant selling Indian cuisine.

Walking distance from the teh tarik stall, the newly-opened Bhai Sarbat Restaurant sits welcomingly, and it is in this new establishment that I take my tastebuds for a much-anticipated review.

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What I tried

I had no trouble finding the restaurant, being well-versed in the area myself. I have visited the iconic teh tarik stall more times than I can imagine and was honestly excited to try out their restaurant. The restaurant can be found at 73 Bussorah Street, at the end of the corner from Kampong Glam Cafe.

The interior of the restaurant is clean, comfortable and cosy—with an industrial-style, exposed brick motif lining one side of the wall. The highlights of the menu were traditional Indian cuisine—like the Dum Briyani and Butter Chicken, both of which found its way on to my table for this lunch.

The Mutton Dum Briyani (S$12.90) came in an extremely generous portion and was loaded with all the little delicious condiments you’d expect on a plate of well-spiced briyani—raisins, cashew nuts, cardamom, and cinnamon. When eaten with the yoghurt and curry gravy, everything came together superbly for a mouthfeel of sweet and savoury flavours. The rice is also fragrant and cooked to perfection, a sure sign of a superior briyani iteration.

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The mutton, tender and rich in flavour, is buried within the mountain of rice and comes as a pleasant surprise for the curious diner. Bones accompany the meat, which is great if you are the type who loves licking on flavourful bones (like many makciks I know). I thoroughly enjoyed this more than I expected.

The Plain Naan (S$2) is incredibly fluffy with a bit of crisp to it. For best results, these should be eaten immediately, as they toughen up quickly when left to sit for a while. We easily tore through the naan to dip into the Butter Chicken (S$9.90), which was delightfully creamy, thick, and full of rich flavours.

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The Butter Chicken curry was chock-full with shredded pieces of chicken, which I presumed was initially meant to come in cubes but has disintegrated quickly, perhaps due to it being slightly overcooked. Regardless, this actually made the whole naan-dipping experience much easier for us, as we did not have to deal with the messy task of separating meat from bones with our fingers.

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No visit to Bhai Sarbat would be complete if we did not try their famous Teh Masala (S$1.70), which tasted exactly as we remembered. The masala tea was brewed with the traditional crushed cardamom, crushed ginger, lemon grass, cloves and cinnamon combination and is the ideal balance between a touch of spice and restrained sweetness. It’s a far cry from the powdered versions you’d get from Mustafa centre’s ground floor outdoor cafe and is the perfect brew to have after a delectable meal.

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Final thoughts

This is a great place if you’re looking for authentic and delicious Indian Muslim food around Kampong Glam. What sets this restaurant apart from nearby iconic Indian Muslims eateries like Nur Fayidha Restaurant and MA Deen Biasa is the indoor, air-conditioned eating area.

Nicely tucked away on one end of Bussorah Street, this restaurant is an ideal and cosy place for you to escape from all the hustle and bustle of Kampong Glam. The setting is more intimate here, especially when compared to much busier outlets like Kampong Glam Cafe and Zam Zam Restaurant.

Bhai Sarbat’s tea has warmed the throats and hearts of many for generations. This new venture represents a firm statement that the much-loved brand is going nowhere and will continue to serve visitors to Kampong Glam for decades to come. Perhaps this restaurant is the creative pivot Bhai Sarbat needed to stay relevant in a world filled with F&B closures and uncertainty. And to think it all started with a humble cup of pulled black tea with milk—a sure sign that perseverance and a commitment to quality are indeed the keys to longevity.

Expected Damage: S$2 – S$10 per pax

Price: $

Our Rating: 5 / 5

Bhai Sarbat Restaurant

73 Bussorah Street, Singapore 199486

Price
Our Rating 5/5

Bhai Sarbat Restaurant

73 Bussorah Street, Singapore 199486

Operating Hours: 24 hours (Daily)

Operating Hours: 24 hours (Daily)
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