Banoo

Sitting in dignity along Mohammed Sultan, Banoo Restaurant deviates from the thumping bass beats of nearby clubs with its quiet serenity. Being the first in Singapore to serve traditional Persian cuisine, Banoo offers an exotic taste of the Middle Eastern to both locals and foreigners in Singapore .

 

  • The Vibe 
    Amidst the fluorescent lights of pubs and clattering of chopsticks from nearby bak kut teh stalls, Banoo Restaurant opens its worn wooden doors to all. Wooden furniture backed against a bricked feature wall greeted on first sight. Tables are covered with Persian rugs, whilst shelves hold metal pots and pitchers of different shapes and sizes. Hanging from the walls are traditional Iranian children’s costumes and accessories; one can almost expect a genie to come billowing out of the many shisha pipes.
  • The Food 
    Persian cuisine is a unique blend of herbs and spices: garlic, onion, saffron, plums, prunes, diced limes, cinnamon and parsley. Like a Persian rug, it is colourful yet complex to taste-buds unaccustomed to Middle Eastern fare. However, most dishes settle in quite nicely after two mouthfuls. The menu is priced at an affordable range of $9.50 – $17.50 for kebabs and specialty dishes.

    Try the Cheloh Kebab Koobideh ($15.50) and Chicken Koobideh ($16.50), mutton kebab and chicken kebab respectively . All dishes are served with Basmati rice topped with saffron and garnished with barbecued tomatoes. The Basmati rice was buttery yet not moist; one can taste each separate grain on the tongue. It might be a little too plain for some, but this staple goes well with the salty kebabs . The rice masks the strong taste of meat and balances its mix of herbs and saltiness. Both kebabs were tender and tasty with a strong flavour of meat brought out by the blend of fresh herbs like basil and nuts. However, the chicken kebab was a little too salty despite an overwhelming smell of spring onion.

    The highlight of the meal was the Khoreshteh Ghaimeh ($14.50), a stew made up of beef with split-peas, potatoes and dried limes. The initial sour tinge of the stew is artfully balanced by the plainer basmati rice. The beef was tender and chewy, while the stew’s starchy texture harmonized perfectly with fried potato strips, which were the equivalent to the Western concept of fries. Not too thick, yet not too diluted, it is a dish worth savouring slowly to the very last strip of beef.

    With such heavy dishes, the traditional Persian tea, chaay ($3.50 per glass) refreshes and aids digestion of food. Served in traditional saucers complete with a miniature glass and a tray of sugar cubes, this tea has a strong fragrance that lingers at the back of the throat after it has been drunk. Sweet and pleasant to the palate, yet not overwhelmingly strong, it appeals to all ages.

    Finally, to complete the entire Persian package, one might like to try their traditional desserts, all of which are restaurant owner, Madam Maryam Mahlojian’s personal recipes along with her stews. The Sholeh-Zard ($3.50) is made up of rice with sugar, rosewater, saffron and finished with pistachios, almond and cinnamon. Cinnamon adds a unique spice flavour to the overall sweetness of the dessert. Not recommended unless you have a sweet tooth, though.

  • The Service 
    It was initially a little slow as we arrived before dinner-time, giving Madam Mahlojian little time to prepare. Impressively, she managed to whip up two main course dishes in a mere ten minutes whilst serving customers personally at the same time. With the help of a few other staff, Banoo was more welcoming as a home than a restaurant with such a motherly restaurant owner cooking and serving customers all by herself.

SD Food Advisor’s take on Oasis Bar & Restaurant: 
Traditional Persian cuisine is an acquired taste, but nevertheless will settle in nicely once one is used to the initially strong flavour of fresh herbs. It takes a mere first visit to warrant continual returns to the restaurant when diners discover their liking for more exotic Middle Eastern fare. Banoo is a unique standalone Iranian cuisine which appeals to the more adventurous palates and those seeking a change in cuisine types.

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