Last Updated: September 29, 2021
Changi Village has seen the bulk of my youth; from building sandcastles by the beach as a toddler to an adult who seeks solace from the sand, sea, and sky. My favourite memory is heading down to the village during the weekends with my family to indulge in a huge plate of nasi lemak, washing it down with a huge glass of pineapple juice, and ending off with a long walk on the beach.
Mostly known for their nasi lemak, what many fail to realise is that it is also home to quite possibly the best nasi briyani I’ve ever tasted in the area—which says a lot, for I am a self-proclaimed briyani connoisseur. Since 2010, family-owned Dil‘B Restaurant started off by selling local Indian cuisine. Soon after, they became popular for their briyani. Without much social media presence, the outlet has been heavily reliant on the marketing of those who’ve dined in and love their briyani as much as I.
Before taking a seat, one will be greeted with the sight of an open concept kitchen of sorts. Where you will see large aluminium pots, a slew of local Indian dishes readily available to have with a plate of steaming hot white rice and a transparent glass where one can see how their roti prata is being prepared in a flash. Not forgetting the savoury aroma of spices in the air; it almost makes me wonder why no one has come up with a briyani-scented essential oil.
Weird scent-related fantasies aside, it was my lucky day because the owner’s son, A*, was around and available for a quick chat. So, there I am, sitting across from this man who’s clearly worn out from the lunch service and only having his lunch in the late afternoon, ready to annoy him further.
Me: It’s nice to meet you. So, tell me more about the history of Dil‘B in Changi Village. How did it begin and the whole shindig?
A: My parents started their venture early in the day. My mom was a canteen stall owner in the early ‘90s and my dad was always a businessman. Then in 2010, my parents decided to get a space in Changi Village and we’ve been here ever since.
Me: Oh, nice! So who runs the place now? You or your parents?
A: Well, it’s still pretty much family-owned so I’d have to say we run the shop together, as a family.
Me: That’s nice. What’s the reason behind selling briyani? Why not anything else?
A: We actually sell a variety of local Indian dishes apart from briyani but over the years we just received a lot of positive feedback on our briyani hence, we decided to use it as our calling card.
Me: (looking at the ‘briyani power’ standee and stickers that can be found around the shop, who are they to argue with what the people want, right?) Ahh, interesting. I actually never knew that. Anyway, with times changing, why don’t you have an active social media presence?
A: Well, these days, everyone turns to social media. It’s a necessary tool of communication but personally, I feel like it generates too much hype. We’re still a traditional stall. We are simple folks, we’re happy with our regular customers and rely mostly on word-of-mouth marketing by those who like our food. We don’t want to compromise ourselves and pretend we are something we are not online only to suffer in the end. This works for us.
Me: Well, that’s true. The boon and bane of the internet, huh. Well, before I leave you to it, just one more question. What makes you guys stand out?
A: Well, for one, we are very serious about what we sell—that being traditional home-cooked food that’ll bring you warmth and comfort with every bite. We are very focused on the quality of our food as opposed to the aesthetics of it.
After that borderline intrusive lunch chat with A, he got onto finishing up his lunch and I got myself a plate of Mutton Briyani (S$8).
The briyani here has a certain oomph to it and till now, I haven’t figured out what it is that makes it so special and always come back for more. I was served with a plate of fluffy and fragrant rice hiding the star of the show; the meat, a side of papadum, freshly cut cucumbers, chillies and onions, and a saucer of dalcha. Personally, the dish could do with or without the saucer of dalcha because it’s tasty either way.
The melt-in-your-mouth mutton is as soft as a baby’s cheeks and each bite alone—or with a spoonful of rice—promises an explosion of flavour and spice. One can taste that immense preparation hours have gone into the meat and rice to ensure it produces perfection on each plate. The masala from the mutton is enough to get you to go back for seconds or thirds—it’s spicy, flavourful, and truly made with a dedication to the art of mutton-cooking.
The ratio of meat to rice was also perfect, with enough meat to pair with every spoonful of fluffy rice. While disappointed that I didn’t pair it with a hot cup of teh tarik, I was still incredibly happy with my plate of power briyani. However, if you aren’t a fan of mutton briyani, they also have Chicken Briyani (S$7) and Fish Briyani (S$7) and other local Indian dishes available. Just remember to head there in the early or late afternoon to avoid the crowd!
While thoughts of gatekeeping Dil’B did cross my mind several times, I figured it’s not fair to those who’ve quite possibly missed on having a delicious plate of briyani in Changi Village. While there are other contenders in the area, nothing beats the fresh aroma and homely feeling over here.
Ah, Changi Village, my home away from home, always leaving me with a filled tummy and happy face. Remember to avoid going on peak timings for they mostly draw a lunch and dinner crowd then.
*Change of name due to request to remain anonymous.
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Block 1, Changi Village, #01-2026, Singapore 500001
Block 1, Changi Village, #01-2026, Singapore 500001