I must confess…for all my complaints about Singapore, there is a place here that is lively, colorful, vibrant, and is undoubtedly worth a visit for anyone passing through this little island habitat. I know this because I have been taking this place for granted for the past eight months. It has integrated so seamlessly into my new life here that I stopped really taking the time to notice it. I’m talking, of course, of Little India*.
Since my home is only a 15 minute walk from this delightful little neighborhood, it really isn’t surprising that I find myself there almost daily. Most of the time, it’s for dinner. As a foodie, I have taken it upon myself to try a variety of restaurants in this part of town and am nowhere near exhausting my options. I have yet to find a bad restaurant here, but I’ll give special mention to one of my favorites, Mustard. This restaurant specializes in North Indian food with a variety of dishes, many of which I have not seen in other restaurants. As a herbivore, I can’t speak about the meat dishes (of which there are many), but the two-page vegetable curry menu offers more than enough variety for me. A personal favorite is the Doi Dharos: okra in a spiced yogurt-based curry sauce. Having tried several other dishes on the menu though, I can confidently say that any of the chef recommendations are worth a taste.
Beyond the eating (and the inevitable food coma that follows), there is the shopping. To put it simply, this is the cheapest, most colorful place to shop in Singapore. Besides the innumerable street shops selling souvenirs, Hindu figurines, vegetables, spices, incense, ayurvedic goodies, and other general household items imported from India, there is the incomparable Tekka Market. Here, one can find authentic Indian clothing in every imaginable color, size, and pattern, as well as countless stalls selling bangles, bindis, and other costume jewelry and adornments. If you’re looking for something truly unique (i.e. non-Western) to purchase in Singapore, I cannot recommend a better place to shop. Did I mention that it’s cheap?
Now, a word of advice. To enhance your experience, I would strongly recommend avoiding Little India from Friday afternoon through Sunday evenings. During the weekend, thousands of Indian workers flock to this part of town to socialize, eat, and do their shopping for the week ahead. The intense crowds make shopping a much more tedious, not to mention malodorous endeavor.
If you have only one day to spend in Singapore, spend at least part of it in Little India. It’s guaranteed to satisfy your cultural (and literal) appetite!
*Since I’ll be going to actual India in less than ten days, I thought it would be better to write this post beforehand, seeing as I’m likely to return with a severe case of “grass is greener” syndrome.