Credit Jeevan Farthing

Review: Mr Singh’s India

By Jeevan Farthing

This unassuming eatery may be the dark horse of the West End’s thriving Indian restaurant scene.

A birthday-related curry was in order. Alas, this was week 11 in semester two – a period largely characterised by burgeoning eye bags and stress-induced insomnia – so we craved somewhere safe, solid and stable. Mister Singh’s seemed the perfect fit, adequately local and seemingly unremarkable, so off we went: an 11-strong assemblage of varying degrees of overdressed first-year flatmates supporting a local business. A mediocre undertaking, surely.

Well, not quite. Mister Singh’s had other ideas, utterly surpassing the lull of mediocrity we supposedly yearned for. More than just the meal is encapsulated, epitomised, defined even. No, Mister Singh’s is an experience. An evening of entertainment and exquisite cuisine is guaranteed, with exemplary service and excellent prices to boot.

Upon entering, we were welcomed by a modest sprinkling of families and friends all seemingly content with life, culminating in all-round-fantastic vibes. One cannot fail to notice Mister Singh’s branding, because it is ubiquitous: the chairs, the business cards, the plates, oh! It’s meticulous, divine, and frankly worthy of a marketing industry tycoon. And yet Mister Singh’s will never be anything but a Glaswegian treat: hyper-local and proudly so.

It’s an eclectic mix of visitors to Mister Singh’s. Locals are the bedrock of their custom, but a trip downstairs to the bathroom revealed photographs of Billy Connolly, Sean Connery and Bill Clinton. However, everyone – celebrity status or not – is treated like royalty. An eponymous Mr Singh (this is an authentic family business, so the immediate question  – was this the Mr Singh – was not actually answerable), greeted us and got to know us. He was genuinely interested in the happenings of our lives, and insisted that he would build upon his work with the NHS to reach out to Glasgow’s student population. Whether our contribution to society can be equated to that of doctors and nurses is certainly debatable, but it emphasised the real sense of pride and community underpinning the restaurant’s values.

There were 11 of us, so it required a quadruple check for Mr Singh to have our drinks order memorised, but there was a beauty in the chaos of it all. Poppadoms and dips (the mango chutney was, of course, the standout) were swiftly delivered to our table without us even asking, but we devoured them. The main menu was subsequently explained in-depth, with recognition from Mr Singh that our group boasted a sizeable proportion of veggies. This was no problem: non-meat options are in abundance, and extend to most dishes on the menu.

Settling for a malidar, a saag-based curry, the risk of garlic overload was contemplated but not actualised. The balance was perfect, and it was beautifully creamy. To supplement our individual choices, Mr Singh also gave us a staff dish based on chickpeas and a plethora of Indian vegetables. Our satisfaction was checked on several times, while the birthday boy himself was afforded a celebratory ice cream and the subsequent eruption of restaurant-wide singing.

Upon departure I was very much bloated, but I almost wanted to be. I was feeling fuller with every step taken on Sauchiehall Street, peak heaviness culminating at least an hour after devouring, but that was fine. Portions at Mister Singh’s are very, very large, but it attests to their generosity, if anything. They didn’t have to provide us with a framed photo, allowing us to treasure the experience, but they did. Mister Singh’s go above and beyond in the sweetest, most unassuming ways. No, their venue isn’t especially instagrammable, but an authentic souvenir beats a filtered snapshot any day.

Mother India may well be the established curry house of the West End – indeed, it is somewhere myself and fellow Finnieston residents frequent when in need of a crisis-induced catch-up. It’s polished, it’s reliable, and it’s an acceptable level of pricey. But it just doesn’t have the rough-and ready-charm, or the personal pizazz, of this humble eatery awkwardly sandwiched between the manky motorway of Anderston and the gorgeous greenery of Kelvingrove Park.

It’s only one curry house that, even as our flat splinters off into several different residences, has managed to become an indefinite facet of our birthday bonanzas. The eponymous Mister Singh deserves recognition as a national treasure.


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