First published on 5 Sep 2012. Updated on 16 Dec 2012.
How many Sri Lankan restaurants do you know in Singapore? Yep, us neither. So with seemingly every other nation’s cuisine represented on our food-crazy island, sampling this nearby country’s homegrown treats seems long overdue.
Kudos then to Saman, Speakeasy’s F&B director, who has gone to great lengths to create not just a solid cross-section of his native country’s food on the Saturday brunch menu ($30), served on a banana leaf, but also a range of nine 'Hangover Cocktails' infused with ingredients reflecting the national identity. They come complete with punning names such as Full-Mon-Tea (with gin and Earl Grey), nods to Sri Lanka’s colonial past (the Ceylon tipple contains Pimm’s and ginger ale) and indigenous fruits (Devil’s Heaven comes laced with pomegranate liqueur – all $15). Saman is also working on importing the national brew Lion Beer into Singapore.
Sri Lankan fare, like that of its close subcontinental neighbour, is both hearty and often surprisingly tangy – qualities reflected in authentic dishes such as Hoppers (a sort of palm toddy-enhanced prata with coconut milk) and an assortment of curries. Fish is heavily represented – try Ambul Thiyal (a sour fish curry), Malu Pan (buns stuffed with sardines) and Gotukola Salad (with dried fish and coconut). A creative selection of sides complements the mains (the String Hopper noodle patties merit special mention), but those not on a diet should leave room for the desserts: Sri Lankan Pancake Roll’s caramelised grated coconut has a crunchy, sugary texture and molasses-like taste, while the Wattalapam’s spice and coconut custard rounds off the meal with another heady sucrose hit.
Despite your surroundings on busy Tanjong Pagar Road – and the fact Speakeasy was originally conceived as a Prohibition-style bar – this is as about as authentic as the Sri Lankan experience will get outside of Galle; the spices and equipment used are all flown directly from the country.
Speakeasy is at 50 Tanjong Pagar Rd (tel. no 6224 4171). Nearest MRT: Tanjong Pagar. Please call the establishment before visiting to confirm if the Saturday brunch is still available.