Indian Tapas

Fennel by Komala Vilas

Fennel by Komala Vilas, at 413 River Valley Road, is described as a modern Indian eatery offering a tantalizing twist on traditional Indian cuisine.  It is the sister restaurant of the well-known Komala Vilas of Little India. Komala Vilas is a no-frills eatery serving traditional South Indian food including excellent Dosa which we often recommend to friends who want to try very good South Indian food.

Fennel by Komala Vilas entrance

Fennel has an Indian tapas menu as well as traditional menu. It is vegetarian with some vegan and gluten free options so all the meat is plant based. It sounded promising so we decided to give it a try.

When we visited it around 2pm on a weekday, it was quiet and we were the only table of diners.

Tapas Menu at Fennel by Komala Vilas

We ordered the following dishes from the Tapas Menu:

Mini Dosa with Tangy Gravy
Tomato Rasam Pani Puri

Tapioca Rasam Pani Puri ($8). Crispy balls called puri are served with a tomato broth which you fill into the balls and pop into your mouth. These were quite tasty and a nice appetiser.

Mini Dosa Served with Tangy Gravy ($4). This is what Komala Vilas excels in. These are crispy crepes made with rice and lentil batter. There is a choice of peanut podi, coriander chutney, curry leaf, gunpowder and garlic cheese. We chose the coriander chutney dosa and this was the highlight of our meal.

Chilli Prata with Raita
Chilli Prata with Raita

Chilli Prata with Raita ($6). Flaky pratas was tossed in spiced flour, sautéed with capsicum and onions, then fried till crisp. This was quite carb heavy though tasty.

Paneer Chappathi Roll ($7).  The Chappathi was stuffed with paneer (cubed cottage cheese), onion, sautéed capsicum, freshly diced tomatoes with a dash of cumin powder. This was probably the healthiest option that we ordered.  

Vadai Curry with Coriander Beehoon
Kefir-Curry Vegetarian Chicken Satay

Vadai Curry with Coriander Beehoon ($6.50). This was Komala Vilas’ famous Vadai Curry combination served with a coriander beehoon. This was a bit on the heavy side, but the curry was good and spicy.

Kefir-Curry Vegetarian Chicken Satay ($6). This was made from plant-based Tindle Chicken with a peanut sauce.

Traditional Menu & Drinks

From the traditional menu, we ordered Uttapam ($4.40), a thick pancake. The array of sambar and chutneys served with this were all very tasty.

Craft beers ($11 each)

There are milkshakes, lassis, craft beers ($11 each) and tea. We ordered a masala tea ($4.40). When we noticed a small insect in it, we pointed this out to the waitress, who promptly took it to the kitchen and returned with the cup, sans insect, 10 seconds later. I think we could have fished it out ourselves.  

Overall: Not a bad attempt at presenting tapas-style dishes, though we prefer the food at the original Komala Vilas

Price: $

Favourite Dish: Mini Dosa with Tangy Gravy


ever heard of Indian tapas?! 😲 komala vilas’ new restaurant “fennel” 😍 #tiktoksg #sgtiktok #sgfoodie #sgfyp #singapore #sgfoodplaces #sg

♬ Pitbull Terrier – Die Antwoord
Indian Pan-Asian Thai

Coriander Leaf

We have been fans of Coriander Leaf since its early days at Clarke Quay. Since then, its dishes have evolved at Chijmes to include Chef Samia’s modern and innovative take on classic Asian dishes from India, Pakistan, Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam dishes.

The dishes are small sharing plates presented under five distinct flavours: fresh, spicy, familiar, umami and sweet. What distinguishes it from many other Pan-Asian restaurants, is that there is not too much compromise on original authentic flavours. There is still a piquant “kick” to many of the dishes.


The restaurant, on the second floor of Chijmes, has several dining areas. Sadly, we walked through the attractive main dining room which has an open kitchen concept and an attractive bar area and counter dining, to our table in the cooking studios at the back. The latter was a bit lacking in atmosphere. It was reminiscent of an airport business class lounge complete with TV screen showing our departure timings (if only!).

The Food

We were provided with a complimentary starter of the ultimate Thai finger food: Miang Kham. A traditional snack from Thailand, introduced to the Siamese court of King Rama V by Princess Dara Rasmi of Chiang Mai (thank you Princess Dara Rasmi of Chiangmai!).

“Miang Kham” translates into a “one bite wrap” where a wild betel leaf is filled with an array of hot, sour, salty and sweet ingredients. This includes shallots, hot bird’s eye chilli, ginger, lime, roasted coconut, peanuts, dried shrimp and tamarind. These are then wrapped in a little parcel and popped into your mouth in a refreshing, hot, piquant bite. Historically, Miang Kham was part of a Thai welcome ritual, offered as a gesture of hospitality to visitors. Coriander Leaf’s Miang Kham was delicious and we were delighted to receive such an exotic starter.

Miang Kham - Coriander Leaf
Miang Kham

From the ‘Fresh’ menu we ordered three vegetarian dishes: Muhamarra, labne and pita chips ($16), Watermelon, mint, pomegranate and Turkish white cheese ($14) and Pomelo, watercress, roasted shallot chilli dressing, fresh herbs, peanuts ($15). The Labne (a thick and creamy yogurt dip), and the Muhamarra (a walnut and roasted red pepper dip) went very well with the crispy pita chips. The watermelon dish was tasty and extremely refreshing and the pomelo dish had good strong, appetising, Thai flavours.

Watermelon Feta Salad
Muhamarra, Labne and Pita Chips
Pomelo Salad

From the ‘Familiar’ menu we ordered an old familiar favourite of ours, Samia’s “signature frontier chicken” cooked with coriander seeds, chilli, yoghurt cream, arugula and lemon ($22). Alas, it appeared to have been cooked differently to a new, non-familiar, recipe. Not sure what happened there but we definitely preferred the previous version. It was accompanied by delicious garlic naan ($6 each).

Signature frontier chicken

From the Umami menu, we ordered crispy duck mandarin pancake with hoisin sauce ($18) and roast duck red curry with lychee, tamarind, fresh green peppercorn and coconut milk ($26). Both duck dishes were very well cooked and the duck was tasty and of good quality. The Thai curry was a bit on the sweet side for our taste, often the case even in Thailand, but was delicious nonetheless. We also ordered crispy whitebait which was very well cooked in a light salt and pepper batter.

Crispy duck mandarin pancake with hoisin sauce
Crispy whitebait
Roast duck red curry

There were many other dishes we would have loved to try but we were getting full at this point and decided instead to order a dessert sampler platter of three desserts:

Ice cream sandwiches, rose pavlova with alphonso mango sorbet and avocado ice cream with fried banana fritters. All were amazing and disappeared within seconds (though we were complaining of being too full minutes earlier).

Ice cream sandwiches, rose pavlova with alphonso mango sorbet and avocado ice cream with fried banana fritters

Drinks: The restaurant also has a good bar with an extensive range of wines and interesting Asian cocktails to complement the food.

Wine by the glass from $15; bottles from $78 and Cocktails from $18

Overall: The best thing about Coriander Leaf is the variety of dishes and its strong, non-compromising interpretation of ingredients and flavours. There are also lots of vegetarian options available. Would recommend sitting in the main dining room for the best ambience

Favourite Dish: I loved the watermelon feta salad!

Price: $$$