If it was not for the fact that a friend had suggested I attend a tasting session at Flying Monkey, I might have just missed out on this place altogether.
Only because the emphasis at Flying Monkey seems to be a lot on the Indian-inspired cocktails that you can have with the Indian tapas.
And I am not a cocktail person, and Indian tapas? Call a chaat a chaat, dude.
Kidding. I know we all have to move with the times and brand ourselves with whatever food trend is in for the day.
(By the way, there’s another “Indian tapas” place – Maziga by the Punjab Grill team).
So there I was standing at the entrance when a heavily bearded guy asked if I was there for dinner. He looked vaguely familiar and now I know why. Formerly of The Cufflink Club and Long Play, Bartender Kannan is no newbie on the creative cocktail scene.
He even managed to turn me into a fan of one of his drinks – the Mind It ($18) which is gin infused with the lovely fragrance of jasmine. With the fresh mint and lemon, this is one cooling drink, perfect for this godawful weather.
And if you’ve never seen a cocktail being “tareked” like teh tarik, well…here you go. This is the whisky-based Monkey on Fire ($18). There’s honey and coconut water to take some edge off the whisky.
I must say the cocktails at Flying Monkey are well-priced. Dramatic flair coupled with ethnic ingredients – definitely worth the price.
But I’m more about the food and I am happy to report that ex-Yantra chef, Azad, does a masterful job in the kitchen of offering up classics, in a refreshing manner.
Nosh on the fried Okra crisps ($8) and Calamari 65 ($10) – you might be more familiar with the chicken version of this dish, which is a curry-leaf fried dish, so it’s good to see something different here in the form of squid.
Now, if an Indian restaurant’s tandoori offerings are good, I find myself suddenly forgetting every other aspect of the meal. Here, they are good. The basil-marinated Cod Fillet ($15) and Tandoori chicken ($10) were well-marinated, didn’t have the uniformly sickly orange colour you find at tandoori rip-offs and were cooked to perfection.
The two curries I tried were good too. And no, not all curries are a slop of brown mess. There are nuances in Indian cuisine that just cannot be found in other cuisines and it’s that perfect harmony of spices that’s so hard to get right.
I liked the Fish curry ($24). It reminded me of mom’s, it had that slightly sour tang from the mango, that I am pretty damn sure was used, though it might have been just the tamarind. It’s served with prata, so if you’re looking for a high-end prata treat (how strange to say that?!), go to Flying Monkey.
The Lamb shank curry ($26) too was delicious, more on the creamy side and the meat was definitely fork-tender. The naan, strangely, was a miss – looked like it needed more heat or time in the oven.
And despite not being a fan of Indian sweets, I enjoyed the hideously sweet Jalebi ($10) which is like a pretzel, dunked in sugar syrup and fried till crisp. Caveat – I had all of 3 bites, that’s all I could handle!
That said, Kulfi ($10), somewhat like an Indian ice-cream but way creamier, that I can do and yes, it was a good ending to a good meal overall.
Flying Monkey’s reasonably priced cocktails and delicious tandoor-grilled meat and curries make me want to throw away any preconceived notions about them being an Indian hipster wannabe!
Address: 67 Bussorah St
Lunch: 12pm-2.30pm, Dinner: 5.30pm-11pm