Zaffron might sound like a restaurant set up by a Zac Efron fan, but in this case, it’s a play on Saffron, the spice that gives briyani rice its distinctive hue, and the earthy shade that this newest East Coast Indian restaurant is swathed in. This hip hangout is also symbolically adorned with a predictable saffron-coloured signage that lures you in.

Upon entering, the inviting lyrical thuds in the background and meandering whiff of spices from the open kitchen coax even the fussiest eaters.

Flair for Modern India

The recent establishment is not just new, but also quaintly furnished with a rustic, cutting-edge set of demeanour, including a designated chalkboard menu and spice-toned fittings of saffron and other earthy colours at first glance.

Jarrod Seah, the co-owner of Zaffron Kitchen, wanted to bring the Indian dining experience to a “new different level”. Be it just to serve a family of 4 or a spontaneous couple, the genial vibe goes beyond just chefs smiling fondly at you. The 96-seater restaurant truly hearkens from a bustling Incredible India.

Exploration of Epic Proportions

For starters, awaken your appetite with the Zesty Papadum ($4) with mint sauce and mango chutney. Featuring 2 flavours to whet your appetite – original and explosive pepper – it has a saline piquancy that’s fried to a golden-hued crunch! Get your drinks ready to wash down the spices as the crisp cracker-like snack is potent, but always tempting for another delightful bite during small chats.

On the flipside, try Papdi Chaat ($6), which consists of North Indian fried dough wafers layered with sev (vermicelli-like crisp), potatoes and peas on top. Drizzled with sweet yoghurt, mint and tamarind sauce, this dish is similar to Spanish tapas, but exudes the raw burst of flavours like a vegetable-topped bruschetta.

A South Indian street food with a texture similar to the ketupat (palm-sized rice dumpling), the Sambar Idli ($4.50) is a starchy cake made with lentils and rice. It’s covered with a pureed vegetable stew blended with tamarind, mustard seeds, dried red chillies and curry leaves. Just a few spoonfuls is all most people can manage, so consider yourself warned.

The star dish at our table was undoubtedly the Dum Chicken Bryani ($11). The redolence of the spices sifts through long grains of basmati rice and the chicken thigh is stuffed beneath a blanket of baked prata that denotes “no peeking!”. The treasure chest is unusually served together, making it a fulfilling main course. So make sure you dig in heartily or better, with someone else.

Taking a long time to decide what will appeal to you best? Don’t sweat it because you can have it all. Go for the Zaffron Tandoori Platter ($38), ideal for sharing in your party of 5 to 7. The plethora of meat choices is bound to suit any palate with chunky samples of juicy chicken, fish and mutton kebab. They are namely: Murg Pudina, Fish Tikka, Malai Tikka, Chicken Tikka and Seekh Mutton Kebab. The Malai Tikka, made using cubes of chicken meat, has got to be the winner among the rest of the succulent contenders because it’s marinated with cottage cheese, coriander and yoghurt. If you’re vegetarian, the Vegetarian Tandoori Platter is available as an alternative for helpings with your own posse.

The desserts at Zaffron Kitchen make you feel like a self-indulgent sweet tooth. Moong Dal Halwa ($9), a treat consisting of lentils prepared with milk, sugar and butter, is made into a paste and served next to a generous scoop of Ben & Jerry’s vanilla ice cream. Garnished with crushed pistachios, it certainly ends your spicy adventure on a sweet note.

The Kids Club

A quarter of the restaurant is dedicated to the kids’ area for the restless munchkins to have fun while their parents or siblings dine in peace. Apart from the life-sized playhouse, popcorn machine and knickknacks, parents can customise their kids’ meals at only $6.50. To make it fun, they can simply paste stickers onto their order cards and pass them back to the staff.

Digest the Decadence

The Chinese may swear by tea to wash down fat, oily food. But a glass of homemade lassi (yogurt-based drink) seems to have the same effect, in addition to putting out the bonfire in your belly.

At Zaffron, there’re 6 flavours– Plain ($4), Salted ($4.50), Sweet ($4.50), Mango ($5), Strawberry ($5) and Banana ($5) to choose from. A spirited alternative of house pours, wines and imported beer is available as well. Wine and beer enthusiasts can toast to India’s Nandi Hills – Grover Vineyards Art Collection Cabernet Shiraz ($9 per glass) and the acclaimed Indian King Fisher ($12 for 650ml) respectively. Take your pick with the uppity TWG TeaGraffeo gourmet coffee or simply go with the local favourite Teh Tarik as you please.

Photos courtesy of Rachel Ong and Sixth Sense Communications.

What makes the visit unforgettable is the outstanding chic concept of assembling a playtime for little tots, a theatrical kitchen, and scads of Indian dishes that can easily subdue any diner with a hearty appetite. To the collective North-South recipes that are cultured at Zaffron Kitchen, it seems to be much more good, than food for thought.

Address: 135/137 East Coast Road, Singapore 428820
Telephone: 6440 6786
Opening hours:

  • Tues to Sun, 11:30am – 10:30pm
  • Closed on Mondays

Rating: ★★★✩✩
Price Rating: $$-$$$

  • Prices listed subject to service charge and GST.
  • For more information, check out their official website.