Banana Leaf Apolo
Who knew that a humble fish head could be so tasty? I inadvertently bypassed Little India on my last visit to Singapore, so fish head curry was a must on this trip even though I wasnt super excited in comparison to other classic local dishes like chile crab. I wanted to have at least one banana leaf meal (where the rectangular frond serves as placemat and plate). Maybe hands-as-utensils is tradition, but everyone seemed to be using spoons and forks. And I'm not one to buck a trend.
As usual, we over ordered. Partly because everything sounded so good and partly because its hard to gauge portions. Here, I usually know what to expect and choose accordingly (its usually going to be big). We had a chicken biryani, which came with two vegetable sides, one a daal concoction, the other spiced tomato-y green beans. That, with naan and the small fish head (small wasnt that small) wouldve been plenty. But we also ordered a vindaloo just to see how its done in Singapore.
The fish head curry was much hotter than the vindaloo, and came in a broth dotted with okra or lady's fingers, as they call them. For some reason I'd envisioned the curry as being more chili-sweet, not chili-sour and unexpectedly bracing. The extra hot spice combination and soupy quality reminded me of Thai yellow curries more than typical Indian food (which isnt surprising since yellow curry paste uses dried spices typical to Indian food where most Thai curry pastes use fresh herbs) Fish head curry is really a Singaporean-Indian invention so the mish-mash comes with the territory.
Banana Leaf Apolo * 54-58 Race Course Rd., Singapore