There are two types of people—adventurous foodies who are down to eat anything and everything, and those who err on the side of caution by opting for the tried and tested. It’s not often that there’s something that falls into both categories, but today, that changes. Budaka is nestled in the heart of the bustling Geylang Road and boasts an Indian-style hotpot and grill.
There’s the comforting and familiar element of cooking your own food, though the spices and marination deviate from the norm in a unique and admittedly delicious way.
What I tried
We all know that the first hurdle of indulging in hotpot is choosing the soup base. I’ve never had an easy time, but Budaka has a pretty smart way of circumventing that issue—customers are allowed to sample all the soups before they make a decision.
Take your pick from six different options such as Crab (S$16), Sardine Laksa (S$14), Chicken (S$14), Anchovy (S$14), Lamb (S$16), or Vegetable (S$10). It all boils down to personal preference, but I opted for Chicken, hoping that the light broth would not outshine the flavours of the ingredients I was going to cook in it.
In true hotpot-and-grill fashion, Budaka has a sizable variety of meat options—their Chicken comes marinated in different flavours, such as Mustard (S$6.50), Methi (S$6.50), and Achar (S$6.50). There’s also Spicy Sliced Pork Belly (S$9.90) and thinly-sliced Garlic Pepper Beef (S$9) if you’re making a visit with another carnivorous eater.
The Garlic Pepper Beef is definitely worth trying—the peppery flavour complemented the post-grill smokiness well, though I have to say that every bite is impeccably seasoned and marinated to perfection here at Budaka.
The Lamb Seekh Kebab (S$13.50) was one of my colleague, Solomon’s, top picks of the night. While I found it a tad too gamey for my liking, he said that it retained a juicy texture even after grilling. All you need to do to elevate this even further is pair it with Budaka’s home-mixed sauces, and you’ve got yourself a savoury burst of flavour that’s worth every calorie.
If I had to give a chef’s kiss award to one of the ingredients we grilled that evening, it would be the Spicy Sliced Pork Belly. Don’t be fooled by the bright orange colour, because this one’s suitable even if you’re not the best handler of spicy food. Normally, the low spiciness would be a bummer for me, but like everything else, the sauce was immensely flavourful and left me reaching for a second, third, and fourth slice.
If seafood’s more your thang, then the Dory Lemon Garlic (S$7.50) and Spicy Prawns (S$16) is the way to go. The fish is fresh, tender, and melts in your mouth—meeting my three main criteria, though I wish that the citrusy zest of lemon had been more pronounced.
The prawn boasted the same flavour as their Spicy Sliced Pork Belly, though I would’ve wished that it retained its essence after throwing it into the soup.
My main gripe with Budaka’s hotpot is that the soup’s taste—albeit one of the mildest ones of the lot—ended up overpowering the marinated meats. It was a bummer, considering how the meats showed great promise, and it’s a mistake that you should be careful not to make if you go there to try it out for yourself.
The meats absorbed the soup’s herby flavour nicely, resulting in tender, chewy bites, so if you’re more team hotpot than team grill, make sure you order accordingly.
The Homemade Meatballs would be a better option, and you can take your pick between Pork (S$8), Beef (S$9), and Chicken (S$6.50). They’ll soften nicely after a few minutes in boiling soup, and reminded me of familiar comfort meals of meatballs and soup.
Budaka definitely gives you an experience that’s both familiar to any Singaporean foodie, yet unexpected in terms of flavour and taste. Indian-style hotpot and grill is not something that I would’ve been bold enough to try, but now that I have, I’d definitely recommend it.
Oh, and if you’re making a visit, get an extra plate of the Spicy Sliced Pork Belly; I’m salivating thinking about it.
Expected damage: S$30 – S$45 per pax
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Price: $ $
Our Rating: 4 / 5
208 Geylang Road, Singapore 389269
208 Geylang Road, Singapore 389269