Since my last visit, Mela has had a change of ownership and a change in fit-out to accompany it – attractive and comfortable chairs and tables have taken the place of booths and high benches that took up much of the dining space – it retains a separate function area off to one side and the counter and sweets display cabinets to the rear of the dining room.
The menu covers a range of North and South Indian dishes, and offers a lunch special of a curry, rice and naan, as well as thali – veg, non-veg and seafood. And of course an extensive offering of Indian desserts.
A small wine list has a number of pleasant choices and we opted for a Spanish rosé which, with its crisply dry palate, and flavours of raspberries and pomegranate seemed a perfect companion to our food.
Deciding both to sample one of the lunch specials – Goan fish curry for my dining chum, and a curry of bitter gourd for me, we also decided on a starter.
For me there was no issue – Vadas were on the list so I had to order them ( I have had them here before and was keen to see if the new owners kept up the standard) – a South Indian fried doughnut or fritter, made from urad dal with spices combined in the batter, deep fried to a crisp skin and fluffy centre, they are one of my favourite Indian street food snacks – served with spicy sambar, coconut chutney and dhal for dipping; these were right up with the best I have had from South Indian specialty restaurants along Serangoon Road in Singapore. They are worth the visit to Mela, alone.
The other starter, another favourite South Indian street dish – idli – were also on point; served with the same accompaniments as the vada, idli are steamed rice cakes, soft, doughy and fluffy, and perfect for mopping up the dhal etc.
Then to the specials – both a very generous serve of curry – the fish moist and tender, swimming in a spicy, creamy masala, rich with tomato, onion and spices. A very good example of the dish.
My vegetarian choice again was spot on – the bitter gourd (and it was certainly bitter) cooked with much onion and spice, but in a dryer style than the fish curry. Very enjoyable indeed.
Both plain naan and garlic naan also struck all the right notes.
Mela has maintained the quality and value of the food – it really is top class traditional Indian food and along with friendly waiters and the pleasant ambience makes for a worthwhile visit.