At the onset, I'll be honest:
1/ I didn't even know that MTR existed in Singapore until last night!
2/ I've never written a review before
My friend was leaving for Oxford for further studies in a few days, and he asked if we could meet up one last time before he flew off. And then he dropped the bomb: let's go to MTR.
I'd been to MTR Lalbagh (Bangalore) exactly once 5 years ago, and it was a gastronomical delight. Coupled with the fact that I went with a local friend of mine, the experience was amazing. I can vividly remember the waiter mentally noting down orders for 20 people at a go and then appearing with the delicacies after a while.
Cut to the present: I was standing in front of MTR, and we walked in and placed the orders.
Order: there was no waiter to take the order at the tables: I presume to cut operating costs. That has a huge disadvantage, which you'll realize in a while. So we ordered rava idlis (semolina steamed cakes), masala dosas (rice pancakes with potato filling) and filter coffee, MTR style: all at the billing counter. We were given a placard with a number; which was for the waiter to deliver the food from the kitchen to the tables.
To the table: Since there were two of us, we wanted to sit in a small table. The eatery has about 50 seating places, with long 10-seater tables in the centre flanked by 4-seaters at the sides. There was one 4-seater table available, but after a futile wait for a few minutes, we didn't notice anybody cleaning it. We were about to grab a 10-seater, but the Floor Manager told us to wait and in a minute, somebody came and cleaned the tables.
Food: the rava idlis arrived almost instantaneously, with the customary small bowl of clear heated ghee at the side, with thick coconut chutney and steaming pallya (potato curry) in small serving bowls. The ghee was dutifully poured on the idli, and I took the first hesitant spoonful.
I felt like I'd been yanked back in history to the same MTR in Bangalore: it tasted exactly the same. The fresh coconut chutney was fresh and consistent (not with the usual watery 'discharge' that you get in other eateries) and the pallya was hot and tangy; just perfect!
The dosas had arrived, in the meanwhile. Time for the spoon test: which is, picking up the spoon, cutting the dosa at the edge and instantly realizing that the crust was perfect: brown on the outside and just done on the inside. The potato filling was perfect, as was the sweet sambar and the same coconut chutney. The cook has been successful in recreating the magic.
Finally, the filter coffee. A bit too milky for my friend's taste, but I didn't find it too bad.
Now, the faux pas. We wanted another cup of coffee, so we asked the waiter if he could get us another cup of coffee each. He nodded and ten minutes passed, the coffee didn't arrive. I got up and paid for two coffees at the counter, and the coffee arrived in 5 mins. There should be a provision for guests to be able to append items to the order later. Imagine if one were to eat with his hand: s/he would have to get up, wash hands, grab the wallet, walk over to the counter, pay for the items. It complicates even further if the guest is alone: the waiter might clear the half-finished food, because there was nobody at the table.
All in all, it was a great experience. The floor manager was nice, amicable and requested me to write a review, and here it is. The price is very reasonable, considering the location of the restaurant and the fact that the quality of the food is very good. The hearsay is that it's the first MTR eatery out of India, but I don't have anything to prove it. The menu and the price of the food can be found at its online site: http://www.mavallitiffinrooms.com/singapore/. This is a bonus, because you know what's on offer and the budget.
All in all, we spent SGD 28 for two masala dosa, two rava idlis and 4 filter coffees. Pretty much the same price at all the other eateries nearby (foreign outlets of established Indian eateries), but the taste was perfectly recreated. The floor manager runs a tight ship, kudos to him.
If you own or manage MTR Restaurant, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.