The Name Game

We eat at Gandhi, O'Bama's and Thaksin to see if these establishments really live up to their names

By Dan Koh | Jun 17, 2010

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  • The Name Game
  • The Name Game
  • The Name Game

Gandhi Restaurant

If you want to eat real Indian food, you have to go to a restaurant with Indian patrons. None of that air-conditioned tourist-filled nonsense. This is the real deal. While not named after the Mahatma himself (according to the owners), he would certainly approve of their philosophy. You don’t come to Gandhi expecting to be treated like a king. You arrive humble and without expectations, and for that you get some of the best Indian cuisine in Singapore.

A long-standing restaurant that’s been serving up on banana leaf since the good old days; you can pick and choose from a mouth-watering array of curries. Their meat dishes are excellent too; the tandoori chicken and fried fish are just two of our favorites.

You can eat here till your sides split, and it won’t cost you more than $10. Once you’ve rounded off that spicy meal, treat your palate to a sweet lassi and don’t forget to fold the banana leaf inwards and towards you, after you’re done. It’s just polite. 31 Chander Rd., 6299-5343.

O’Bama’s Irish Pub

So, Obama actually does have some Irish blood flowing in him. His ancestors, the Kearney family from the Irish village of Moneygall, ran a business making shoes and wigs.

Originally a Tanjong Pagar institution called Shamus O’Donnell’s, the pub’s ownership changed hands in 2009. With new owners, a new name was needed to mark the change, and no one exemplified “change” more than Barry H. The motif of the President is a prominent feature, but everything else about O’Bama’s is more classically Irish. Of course they’ve got the smooth pints of Guinness you’d expect, live screenings of Irish sports like Gaelic football and hurling, as well as pub grub that’s a mix of hearty Irish and classic American.

The traditional Irish beef stew is a must try; chunks of beef braised with Guinness, mixed vegetables and rosemary. The Ronnie Reagan Cheeseburger is a tribute to the American burger, and to the movie-star president for whom it’s named after. Why not try one of their sandwiches, like the Breakfast Sandwich with bacon, sausage, fried eggs, grilled tomatoes and baked beans, which will make for a true Irish start to the day.

Omar Shariff Authentic Indian Cuisine

Whether or not this restaurant is indeed named after Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago actor Omar Sharif is a mystery, even to its present owners. After all, the Egyptian actor’s surname only has a single “f,” and nary a thing to do with Indian food. Adding to the confusion is another actor, but this one’s Pakistani—Umer Sharif, the comedian. As if that’s not enough, how about Omar Sharif, the Bangladeshi cricketer? Omar, Umer, Sharif, Shariff: Let’s just call the whole thing off, this restaurant doesn’t need a celebrity’s name for endorsement, its food speaks for itself.

Since 1996, Omar Shariff has been serving its loyal customers North Indian food of the finest degree. The menu features both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes like the scrumptious tandoori chicken, an impossibly creamy chicken tikka masala and paneer manpasand. They do deliveries too, so you can try to crack the puzzle of exactly which Omar Shariff to thank, for your delicious home delivery.

Thaksin Beef Noodle

The story behind this stall’s name is nearly as convoluted as the current state of Thai politics. The intention was to call the stall “Taksin” after the king who ruled Thailand during the 18th century, but that had to be changed to avoid the act of lèse-majesté. An “h” was added to form the “nearest” word, and it just so happened to end up sharing Thaksin Shinawatra’s first name; or so claims stall proprietor Jaesen Ng, a Chinese Singaporean who could pass off as Thai.

Whatever the case behind its name, Thaksin Beef Noodle undoubtedly overcomes the cheesiness of its motto to be “bullish about beefing you.” Its succulent beef comes in three types: Tripe, sliced and stewed, all doused in a rich Thai broth. This Halal-certified dish is served in four different sizes, and comes with kway teow noodles, kang kong, bean sprouts and (at your own discretion) dried chili flakes. With a new stall opening at ITE College West in July, students will soon be able to get a real taste of Thailand. #01-44 Seah Im Food Center, Blk 2 Seah Im Rd.; #01-211 Blk 449, Clementi Ave 3, 9666-1234.

Local celebrities who actually run their own eateries, without naming it after themselves.

R Burger
It was “an inspiration of hunger” that made TV actor Adam Chen bring R Burger to Singapore. The first hamburger café to put collagen in their buns; they use fluffy white steamed buns instead of the standard burger buns. Health fanatics can get a further kick out of the tofu nuggets and selection of coffee and tea, rather than just generic soft drinks. B4-56/57 ION Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn.

Old Town White Coffee
Nobody is ever in a hurry here. The staff is extra careful about their service, and customers are encouraged to enjoy their coffee one sip at a time. There is a slow, laidback vibe to the place with local traditional favorites like kopi, kaya toast and eggs on its menu. Already with seven outlets island-wide, the chain’s owner—local funnyman Mark Lee—plans to expand the franchise by opening 12 to 15 additional outlets. #01-225 Suntec City Mall, 3 Temasek Bvld., 6338-4009.

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