Trishna may be spared the regal, fit-for-a-king grandeur but a certain amount of camp still greets us on a drab Tuesday night. Set up like a mediocre Hindi film, faux crystal beads hang from the ceiling and classical Indian art adorns the walls. Our favourite kitsch touch is the ’70s TV clips starring young Amitabh Bachchan with a lot of sideburn action.
The menu is like a Hindi movie as well – too long. There’s ‘spoilt for choice’ and then there’s Trishna’s menu. The starters alone are a three-page saga of meats, seafood and vegetarian options, although they do all sound alluring on paper. We pick what we think are standouts while the rest are reluctantly pushed out of mind for future visits.
The first of the lot is paneer tikka, homemade cottage cheese grilled in a tandoor, served with bell peppers. Faultless, the cheese is smooth, creamy and smoky all at once. The Afghani chicken also knocks it out of the park; chunks of misshapen (but moist) meat marinated in a tangy yoghurt mix. The mains however, arrive at our table just as we’re tucking into the starters, and our two-seater table becomes an uneasy sight of overflowing pots and cutlery. A shame, as the curries turn cold by the time we get to them.
The first we tackle is the butter chicken, a dish that dates back to the luxurious days of the Mughal empire, and made with tomato puree with a dash of cream to finish. Much fanfare has surrounded Trishna’s version and in one word, it is sweet. It feels like an anglicised version of the more complex original, but it may just be that the tomatoes were overripe. Also, the chicken pieces are cut too generously, inevitably resulting in some dryness. The mutton rogan josh, a classic Kashmiri dish, falls in the not-amazing-but-not-bad category. It’s tasty with the first swipe of naan, but none of the spice lingers long enough on the palate nor does the doneness of the mutton impress. The best dish of the night goes to the bhindi masala – okra stir fried in a dry, spicy paste. The sliminess of okra is completely eliminated and tossed just right to maintain a crunch.
Where Indian food is concerned, rich food is usually countered with even richer drinks. The mango lassi, our favourite requisite, churns mango into a dreamy, mildly sour shake without any of the artificial cloyingness. For dessert, we opt for the pistachio kulfi, a creamy frozen dessert that appears slightly grainy while providing a good chew – perfect. At the end of the night, it seems like Trishna has won us over with ice cream. Cool move, guys. Surekha Ragavan
Level B1, West Wing, Hotel Istana 73, Jalan Raja Chulan
|Opening hours:||Open daily, 10.30am-3pm; 5.30pm-1am|