As Confucius said, it is a joy to have friends visit from afar. But it can be a stressful thing too, especially if they come at this time of year. As they’re based in London, there’s no question of taking them to some hipster hole; anyway I don’t inflict hipster holes on my friends.
Fortunately, we still have Little India, crowded and noisy and wonderful, and bearing Komala Vilas just a short distance from the chaos of the main road. The place has given no attention to its decor beyond the bare minimum, to provide its customers with somewhere to sit. Instead its most potent advertisement is the scent that wafts from the kitchen and out the entrance.
Going into IndLine, my first emotion was a tremble of apprehension that was not about the place itself – or at least not directly. Rather, the way the place looks is so similar to another place down Keong Saik Road, which I like, that for a moment I thought the other place was no more. From the placement of the counter, to the decor with flashes of colour on bare concrete, to the raised rear portion. It could be a quirk of the whole stretch – or it could be I am standing where Muchachos once was.
It turns out it’s probably the quirk thing. But it still says something about how Keong Saik is falling into hipsterish homogeneity even as it becomes a food strip to be reckoned with. Indline’s looks definitely stand out among Indian restaurants – neither utilitarian and ascetic, nor arrayed with upholstery and thick-padded banquettes throughout. (Not that there’s anything wrong with either.) It is as modern as its setting demands. But is it Indian?