I am no stranger to INDOCAFE – the white house. My first visit here was for their Chinese New Year menu, and I must say that I was deeply impressed. Click on the link to find out more about its parking, if you drive, and how the homely interior looks. This time round, I was here to try its ala-carte menu.
Kueh Pie Tee ($10++) :: The good thing about it here is that it comes separately (though not ‘each sold separately’). That way, not only is it more interactive, it also ensures that the crispy ‘top hat’ pastry cups do not get soggy from the fillings. The filling comprises shredded (really) sweet turnip and crabmeat. It’s quite a mild flavour, and can be changed with their homemade chilli dip.
Classic Penang Otah ($14++) :: I was surprised to see the otah when it was presented. It surely wasn’t the traditional long stick of the same that we see on a regular basis. It’s steamed egg custard with fish fillet, seasoned with freshly squeezed coconut milk and a blend of herbs and spices, which gives an overall taste of perfectness. The fish fillet came generously, and the velvety texture of the dish makes it easy to eat. I love that it comes with a good touch of spiciness. I found myself coming back for this throughout the entire meal.
I also had a go at its Ngoh Hiang ($14++). I usually give a pass on Ngoh Hiang because they are so dry, they are deep-fried and tasted one-dimensional. But the ones here, man, I was blown away. It was the first time I was pleased with Ngoh Hiang – it’s surely the best I’ve had. The five-spiced meat was filled to the brim of the deep-fried soy bean curd skin. The chunks of meat enveloped were so good to chew on, and the entire mouthful was so moist too. A good plump wrap of awesomeness. It’s the appetiser to order.
Ikan Masak Merah ($32++) :: While this pan-roasted cod fillet is done with red chilli sauce, I detected more sweetness than spiciness, which was not to my preference. The cod though, was freshly firm and not at all flaky.
Ayam Buah Keluak ($24++) :: With the unmistakable buah keluak (black nut) scent, it’s either you love it or hate it. I quite like the acquired taste of the braised chicken with exotic spices and buah keluak – very intense and rich. The Chef stuffs the black nut with shredded chicken and black nut flesh.
Babi Pong Teh ($22++) :: The old-style braised pork belly is one of my favourites of the night. It is prepared in fragrant soya bean paste and aromatic spices. The meat was slightly tough but I like it that way so long as it’s not unbearable, because I can chew on it longer. It is also a good variation from the rest of the rich-gravied courses – this is lighter.
Rendang Sapi ($32++) :: This makes up the other half of my favourite for the evening. This is a must-order; the slowly-cooked wagyu beef cheek was the most tender. While it’s not traditional / authentic to use the beef cheek, it does not bother me much so long as it tastes good. It’s done with their special blend of spices.
Buah Keluak Fried Rice ($16++) :: I first had their Keluak Fried Rice on my first visit and boy was I a huge fan of it. As that was the Chinese New Year menu, it had additional scallop and crab meat. I realised that the absence of those ingredients had quite a big difference in the taste. The saltiness of the crab meat, for instance, lifted the entire plate of fried rice and added that extra oomph. So I was disappointed that the ordinary menu doesn’t have them. Nonetheless, it was still alright a plate of fried rice, though now, I would suggest going for the plain rice instead to better complement the above mains.
Their desserts, though beautifully presented, did not quite impress me. If I had to pick one, I’d go for their Chendol Panna Cotta ($12++) – a modern take by the restaurant. It is made up of coconut pudding with nata de coco, chendol and red bean, and gula melaka on the side. A refreshing way of having a chendol dessert, but taste-wise was ordinary and nothing spectacular in particular. Pulut Hitam ($8++), a sweetened black glutinous rice porridge, was served with drizzles of salted coconut milk. Though it sounded promising, I was discontented and felt that it could be richer in flavour.
Though there were some hits and some misses, most of the mains were more than reasonable. A meal can amount to just $20++ per person. For the ambience and the quality of food, I would say go for it. INDOCAFE – the white house’s peranakan food resembles that of Penang’s more of Indonesia or Melaka’s. I am usually not a fan of Peranakan food, but I must say that now, when people ask me where for Peranakan fare, I will suggest INDOCAFE.
What’s worth paying for:
Classic Penang Otah
Babi Pong Teh
Ayam Buah Keluak
Photos by Kathleen.
Address: 35 Scotts Road
Telephone: 6733 2656 (takes reservations)
Opening Hours: 12pm – 3pm, 6pm – 10.30pm (Daily)
This was a media session. Thank you Nicole & Roza.