Review: Shiraz Restaurant
If you have ever walked through the heart of Clarke Quay and stopped to read the menu with live belly dancers doing jaw-dropping hip shimmies to the beat of Persian music, you know you have arrived at Shiraz.
For many years, I would walk past in awe watching these fantasy women in their sparkling sequin costumes and heavy black kohl eye makeup, shaking their hips wrapped in coin-lined hip scarves. Some might call it entertainment gimmick and others call it cultural dining. Whatever it is, it works as a crowd pleaser – no matter if you are dining in or walking past. It is the only fine dining restaurant on Clarke Quay that has managed to consistently pull a thick crowd gathering at its entrance night after night since 2007.
Early this week, I was craving for middle eastern food. My husband suggested Shiraz. At the time, it was the only middle eastern restaurant we knew that was within walking distance. We were a little hesitant because the restaurant always struck us as an overpriced tourist trap. But seeing that we were having one of those rare nights out, we mutually agreed to give it a try.
We arrived at 6:30pm. No live belly dancing. The restaurant manager, doubling as front-of-house host, ushered us in and told us the belly dancing show only starts around 8:30pm-9pm every night. Oh well.
For starters, we ordered the hummus and yogurt dips. It came with complimentary nan-e-barbari, a classic Persian flatbread that was beyond delicious. The freshly baked flatbread was crispy, chewy and full of flavor. The hummus platter came with fresh basil leaves, mint leaves, thin sliced tomatoes and feta cheese. When my husband wrapped a little bit of everything in a piece of barbari and I took a bite, my taste buds started singing.
The yogurt dips came in a trio dip platter of shallot, cucumber and garlic. Again, together with a piece of barbari, the yogurt dips were so refreshing. I love the gastronomic simplicity of plain freshly baked flatbread dipped in yogurt.
For the main course, we shared the Mosama Bademjan – braised chicken stew in tomato and eggplant served with Persian rice. The chicken was tender and came off the bone easily. But the true surprise was the rice. It was filled with the flavors of saffron, raisins, cashew nuts, almonds and pomegranate. Also known as Persian jeweled rice or “javaher polow”, this rice is served on special occasions like weddings and looks gorgeous with specks of bright contrasting colors. A delightful feast for both eyes and palate.
Unfortunately, we did not experience the live belly dancing at all that evening because we finished dinner by 8pm.
Despite no live entertainment, the quality of the food and service at Shiraz was truly impressive. Even my husband, who started the evening not keen on having middle eastern food and would have rather have kept to our usual Asian cuisine, thanked me for the push for something different.
While I was right to assume that this place is not cheap (and trust me, it isn’t), I know the flavors I tasted will have me coming back for more.
3A River Valley Rd
#01-09, Clarke Quay
Telephone: + 65 6334 2282
Monday to Thursday from 6:30pm – 11pm
Friday and Saturdays from 12pm to 3pm / 6:30pm to 2:30am
Sundays 6:30pm to 2:30am