Located on a corner plot at the intersection of Rowell Road and Kampong Kapor Road, M.B.S. is a beacon of culinary respite in the midst of (one of) Little India’s red light district(s). It’s difficult to miss as the facade is visually stunning – just look at the paintwork! If you happen to suffer from momentary colour blindness, the table or two of prostitutes and/or ladyboys along the Rowell Road stretch usually gives the game away. This place attracts all sorts of characters, and is one of my favourite eateries in Little India.
M.B.S. specialises in Thai-Muslim seafood, but offers a good range of vegetarian Indian curries (including a selection of paneer dishes) and starch options as well. The servers (all blokes) can come across as a little distracted at first, but are friendly once they have warmed up to you. Some of the seating areas (next to the wheelie bins) can be quite smelly, but the pedestrian traffic along Kampong Kapor and Rowell Roads generates a nice buzz. M.B.S. is a place that’s grubby and sweaty and full of life; it couldn’t be further removed from its glitzier namesake.
53 Rowell Road (at the junction of Kampong Kapor Road)
Open 24 hours daily
A fantastically appetising piece of naan – I was immediately struck by the smell and appearance of the lightly charred outermost layer. Beautiful. The taste was borderline sublime, with the sweetness of the wheat flour mixing well with the smokey savouriness of the tandoor. The texture was also excellent – thin but chewy, with the layers of dough visible to the eye. With naan this good, there is little need for curry.
Palak paneer (literally “spinach” and “cheese”) is one of my go-to dishes whenever eating northern Indian food. I love the colours, the creaminess, and the scope for freestyling with the flavours. M.B.S.’s palak paneer delivered on colour and flavour, but it fell slightly short on creaminess (a little too oily). The colour was near-perfect – earthy green hues intermixed with reds (tomato and red chilli), yellows (shredded ginger and paneer) and dark greens (green chilli and cardamon). The flavours were strong and mature; the spiciness of the chilli was dominant but nuanced, thanks to the ginger and cardamon. Whilst it would have benefitted from being slightly more viscous, this was, overall, a very tasty dish.
A rather watery, mild-tasting dhal. Chunks of diced onion and garlic provided a subtle sweetness that complemented the cumin and lentils. They also enhanced the texture and provided an important source of ballast. Overall, however, I found the flavours a little too diluted to be exciting.
For all the years that I have been frequenting this place, M.B.S. has proven itself to be a consistently good – sometimes outstanding – performer. The chefs have a flair for delivering more complex flavours that are unique and compelling. Give this place a try; you won’t be disappointed.