Ali Nachia has consistently been rated as one of Singapore top 3 spots for the popular Indian-Muslim biryani rice dish. It used to operate at the old Malayan Railway Station in Tanjung Pagar, which had since been closed down after Singapore and Malaysia (who used to own the piece of land since British colonial days) had re-negotiated a land exchange deal which involved closing down the old railway station.
Ali Nachia has been operating at its new premises here at Tanjung Pagar Plaza (opposite Amara Hotel) ever since. The lunch-time crowd was not as daunting as at its old premises, but one still need to come fairly early in order to get one of the hard-to-procure seats at the packed Teck Kee Wanton Mee Coffeeshop where Ali Nachia is located, alongside several other very well-patronised stalls.
Ali Nachia's mutton biryani is the more popular option, but I chose the chicken biryani for a change this time. The tender, well-marinated quarter chicken was served buried under a mountain of fragrant, beautifully-scented, saffron-tinted long-grain basmati rice. Three sides came with it: a watery cucumber-onion-carrot "raita", a spicy-sour-sweet pickled cucumber "achar", and a small bowl of greasy, robust-flavoured potato-eggplant curry which packed quite a meaty punch, obviously from the addition of boiling stock from the meats.
Still one of the best in town, Ali Nachia usually sells out by 2-3pm each day. And at S$5 (US3.70) per serving set, it's a real bargain here in Singapore.
Ali Nachia Biryani Dam
Blk 5 Tanjong Pagar Plaza #02-04
Tel: +65 9389 2615
Daily lunch only: 10am onwards, except Sunday