The legendary Fakruddin is one of Bangladesh’s best-known biryani restaurants, and it has grown into a chain of 10 branches in Bangladesh, located mainly in Dhaka’s upmarket neighbourhoods like Bashundara and Gulshan, plus franchised outlets in Singapore and the UK.
Fakruddin’s official website talked about its early beginnings in 1966, when founder Haji Fakruddin Munshi learnt his craft from Muslim Miah, a renowned chef who’d worked for the Nawabs of Bengal. Today, the Fakruddin chain is headed by Haji Mohammed Rafique, the son of the late Fakruddin Munshi. Famous for its kacchi briyani, a local genre of biryani famous throughout the Indian sub-continent, the chain’s Moghbazar branch in Dhaka was covered by Rick Stein in his very entertaining and informative BBC2 travelogue.
This review covered my visit to Fakruddin’s Singapore branch at Desker Road, the “Little Bangladesh” corner in Serangoon Road, Singapore’s Little India.
Kacchi biryani with mutton - this Bengali version of the fragrant rice-with-meats dish (one finds variants of this dish throughout India) is Fakruddin’s claim-to-fame. We opted for the mutton version (it also serves a chicken rendition) as the red meat rendition has a more robust scent and flavour. Squeeze some lime juice onto the rice - its taste and texture were simply stupendous - infused with spices and the aroma from the mutton, the rice was fluffy and flavoursome to the last grain. Best ever version I’d tasted in Singapore, though it lagged behind the ones I’d had at Fakruddin’s branches in Dhaka.
Goru (Beef) Bhuna - this is a classic Bengali dish where the use of copious amounts of onions lent a delicious sweetness to slow-cooked spiced beef. The spices were dry-roasted first, to lend the dish its intense flavours. The one served here at Fakruddin Singapore also paled in comparison to the ones I’d tasted in Bangladesh, but definitely above average compared to the other Bangladeshi restaurants in Singapore.
Tel Begun (curried aubergine) - I loved aubergines in any form, and the one here, aromatic and spiked with more pungent mustard oil than I could ever imagine, was as good as any - meltingly soft.
Machh er Jhol (fish in mustard curry) - This fried fish (a specie the Bengalis call “tatkini”) was first fried till crisp on the outside, then cooked with a thin, mustard oil-spiked curry, and served with a wedge of potato for textural contrast.
Boot-er Daal er Mangsho (Yellow dhal lentils with beef tendon) - I love this dish to bits: beef-flavoured dhal was something “alien” to me as, growing up on Singapore’s Udupi-influenced vegetarian dhal curries, my very first taste of beef-flavoured dhal curry was in Dhaka back in 2004. It was a real eye-opener for me - the meaty dhal had a sweetness and robustness in flavour which blew my mind. I never looked back since.
Fakruddin in Singapore was very spartan and simple, very different from the plush, family-restaurants which Fakruddin is back in Dhaka. Here in Singapore, food was ordered from the counter, canteen-like. There are at least 300,000 Bangladeshi migrant workers In Singapore, mainly blue-collar workers, so the restaurant here seemed positioned to cater to that demographic.
8 Desker Road, Singapore 209552
Tel: +65 6297 7730
Opening hours: 12.30pm-11.00pm daily (currently only open for take-outs due to the COVID-19 lockdown in Singapore).