Komala Vilas Restaurant
76/78 Serangoon Road
Tel: +65 6293 6980
Singapore's Little India neighborhood.
I love South Indian breakfast food, I really, really do. Started when I lived in Bangalore in college and has persisted ever since, coming to a boil whenever I go back to India (like last year). The rarity of good dosas, vadas, uttapham and other AM Indian delicacies in places not India kills me inside. Phnom Penh does have a pretty good little dosa-slinging joint, but it's not quite the same. Thus, I was very happy to come across Komala Vilas in Singapore's Little India, a restaurant that effectively transports you to a busy morning somewhere near Bangalore or Chennai.
We had a rava masala dosa, an Indian crepe made with semolina flour and stuffed with potatoes, fried onions, green chili and spices. Like most South Indian breakfast items, it's served on a steel plate with small cups of tomato and coconut chutneys and sambar, South India's ubiquitous tamarind vegetable stew. You eat with your hands, ripping the dosa apart and dipping it in the little cups of flavor: it's really pretty perfect. Would only be enhanced by the addition of a smidgen of melted cheese - why can't you find a cheese dosa outside India?
We sampled an uttapam as well, a pancake with red onion and chili mad with a fermented rice and daal batter. Uttapam is in essence a thick, flat variant on the dosa and is eaten with the hands in approximately the same way: the red onions weren't too sharp and made a nice counterpoint to the sambar.
Komala Vilas also does excellent, flaky, hot samosas, which are served with chutney and provide a spicy, interesting AM departure from a boring ol' crossiant. Great with chai tea, but everything is. There's also fresh juices and good, strong, super sweet South Indian coffee on offer, just like I fondly remember it.
Komala Vilas has been doing its thing since 1947, serving cheap and simple South Indian breakfast items to a diverse crowd of Singaporeans. It's a bit of a zoo on weekends, but the people watching is, to me, a real perk - you can pour your tea from saucer to cup and listen to the cacophony all around you. "Quiet" and "Indian" don't go together. Saunter down the street after breakfast, buy some knock-off junk and tasty food products in the Indian run shops on Serangoon road, and pop your head into the Hindu temple if you're feeling nostalgia for the subcontinent. This is the fun part of Singapore.