Iran all night: the best Persian restaurants in Singapore

Iran tends to get a lot of negative press. Even at this year’s Oscars it wasn’t acclaimed Iranian director Kiarostami picking up a gong, but instead Ben Affleck for Argo, his heavily fictionalized tale of the true-life, 1970s rescue of American hostages from the embassy in Tehran.

This isn’t the right forum to start arguing about the dissonance between the regime and the people (stark though it is, to anyone who’s visited the place)—but it is a good forum to point out one thing: Iranian (or Persian) food is awesome. Thick hunks of lamb, saffron-scented rice, pomegranates the size of beachballs. It’s the kind of unapologetic, full-flavored cuisine foodie dreams are made of. (Read more about it on Wikipedia, here.) Best of all: Singaporeans are one of very few nationalities (Slovenians, Saudi Arabians and Macedonians among them) who don’t need a visa for a short-term (less than 3 month) trip to Iran.

Fear not if you can’t make it all the way there, though. With Nowruz, or the Persian New Year, coming up on March 23 2013, we figured now was a good time to go in search of the best Persian food in Singapore. And who better to tip us off than Ali Javadian, organizer of this year’s New Year festivities in Singapore. (You can find details of the party on their Facebook page from this Friday.)

Here are Javadian’s three top tips for authentic Persian food in Singapore:

  1. Shiraz. Shiraz at Clarke Quay has a great Persian ambience with belly dancing every night. You can see how the kebabs are being made on the charcoal just near your table. Everything is fresh, tasty and well decorated. Not only are the kebabs here great but so are lots of other Persian dishes such as Ghorme Sabzi, which is beef stew with vegetables and fine herbs, as well as the well-known Persian Beef stew with rice and herbs. Shiraz Mazzeh is great place for a shawarmah especially if you are a late night drinker and want to grab something late! The new Shiraz Lazziz at Buona Vista is a new design which has fine dining as well as a bar. The selection of food here is slightly limited and the focus is more on the light food options, but there are great choices for drinks and appetizers especially Kashk Bademjan with naan.
  2. Sahara Bar + Restaurant. This Persian and Mediterranean restaurant has a nice view of the Singapore river with delicious kebabs. I really love this place when I miss Iran and family gatherings. It’s also good when you want to watch football matches with a couple of drinks as it has a bar with a screen for matches. Compared to Shiraz it has fewer choices but the items available are definitely good quality and a good price.
  3. Anar. Anar offers not only Persian cuisine but also Arabian food. It has a very nice interior design which reminds you of Arabian nights (well, for me, maybe). It offers a wide range of Arabian and Persian cuisine. I put it third basically because the choices of Persian cuisine here are limited but you still can find delicious chicken kebab and other Persian style spiced kebabs and naan. The prices are slightly more expensive than the other two. But if you are in the Sentosa area, give it a try. The food is really very good.