Scotts Road is one district not to be missed if you are in the lookout for fine quality food with a classy, posh ambiance to match. After my visit to Ki-Sho for some fine Japanese cuisine and Buona Terra for a hearty yet artful Italian set dinner, it was time to visit Indocafe, a Peranakan restaurant with a cultural centre attached to it. The place is affectionately called The White House, due to the extensive white facade that bears homage to a legacy of Singapore’s colonial days.
The charming interior of Indocafe – the white house.
Admittedly, I was well impressed with the restaurant’s extensive dining menu. It was a real treat to see the spread of Peranakan dishes ready for order and I was keen to order a good number of items on the menu. However, do note that the portion sizes for each of the mains are substantial and well suited for sharing.
To start off the night, entertain yourself with a myriad of flavours and textures from the humble keropok and achar (preserved vinegared vegetables with peanut sauce). If you like, request for some sambal belachan to go with the keropok.
One dish that is a must have at Indocafe is the Kueh Pie Tee ($10++). The serving is made a little different as the cups and filling are presented separately. While not an idea that is out of this world, I must give credit as this serving style allows the diner to enjoy the full-bodied crunch of the pie tee cups together with a hearty portion of the radish filling within.
The Five-Spiced Seasoned Meat Roll ($14++) is Indocafe’s creation of the popular Ngoh Hiang. Each piece was generously stuffed with meat, compact and tightly wrapped with beancurd skin and thereafter deep fried. It was okay as I would have preferred the rolls to be juicier and presented with a little more variation in texture.
A unique departure from the traditional is the Classic Penang Otah ($10++). Instead of having a portion of fish paste sealed in a piece of banana leaf and then toasted over a fire, Indocafe reimagines the concept with steamed egg, fish, spices and a decadent addition of fragrant coconut milk. Enjoyable.
Kerabu Maine Lobster Salad
I was well impressed with the Buah Keluak Fried Rice ($16++) for a good mix of the buah keluak nut’s creamy, nutty centre stir fried with grainy rice and a light assortment of toppings like egg, seafood and vegetables. The buah keluak is such a delectably flavoured nut that it truly sets this dish apart from the regular fried rice.
Babi Pongteh ($22++) is served white at Indocafe. Usually prepared with a dark braising sauce and slow cooked for hours on end, this dish omits the dark sauce but still produces an equally appetizing dish best served with steamed white rice. The belly meat was tender soft although not to the degree of melt in the mouth goodness.
Ikan Masak Merah ($32++) is prepared with cod fillets and chilli sauce at Indocafe. Usually with a more robust and spicy sauce, this variation is mildly flavoured, yet well complemented with the oilier cod fillets. I enjoyed the crisp exterior, cottony meat, and the gentle spread of sauce all over. The touch of lime juice perks up the entire dish.
One portion that demands sharing is the Rendang Sapi ($32++). Fatty soft wagyu beef cheeks is used in this rendang concoction that is brimming with spices and flavour. The regular beef rendang is usually a wholesome, temptation in its own right. Change the choice of meat, start with the basic rempah and play creatively from there and what you get is this beautiful dish that goes exceptionally well over rice.
The Ayam Buah Keluak ($24++) looked very inviting when first presented on the table. The gravy was thickened, darkly scented with nutty creaminess and the contrast of green was a simple touch that made everything all the more classy. The dish is prepared differently from what the more familiar Singaporean version. Made with shredded, instead of minced chicken and the nut’s meat restuffed into the shell, I thought it was a unique take but could not really appreciate the overt presence of meat in each shell. The rempah gravy was also a touch salty for my liking. Being one of the more popular hallmarks of Peranakan cuisine, I would say this version might impress a few but not my tastebuds for the night.
To end the meal, I highly recommend going for the Bubor Cha Cha. Silky white and piping hot coconut milk is served together with an an assortment of yam, sago and surprisingly, banana. It was exceptionally well scented with a satisfaction that will leave a sated sigh from each diner.
Indocafe – the white house, is an interesting and unique place to visit if you are in the mood for some contemporary and reimagined Peranakan cuisine. Items like the Rendang Sapi, Ikan Masak Merah and Bubor Cha Cha are some items to go for. Generally, flavours are strong and robust, sometimes a little more intense than what is best appreciated. Still, the dishes that I tried are decently good and artfully presented with a contemporary touch. But it will not appeal to traditionalists who prefer their Nonya grandma’s home cooking.
Thank you Indocafe for the invitation
|Indocafe – the white house|
|35 Scotts Road