For the full review with pictures, click http://poachedmag.com/2013/03/01/review-indocafe-a-diamond-in-the-making/IndoCafe – The White House
has all the right ingredients of a great dining establishment, but something is amiss.
Walking into the colonial bungalow on a pouring evening feels like coming home to a warm sanctuary. It must be the rustic hardwood tables and rattan chairs, the beautifully nuanced Indonesian carvings and Peranakan accents, and the smiley disposition of the maître d’
. Yet there’s an unnecessary opulence about the place that makes dining here a little stressful, especially for a cuisine whose greatest pride is in its homeliness.
The waiters are perkish and neatly decked out in vests, knowledgeable to a point of mild obsession. The food is plated immaculately, presented with a religious adherence to defined service protocols. “This is fine-dining, silly,” you might say, but for an experience that is so perfectly calibrated, there was no other customer dining throughout our 2-hour meal at the Scotts Road culinary gem.
You cannot fault the food. We absolutely loved the Penang Otah
($10) – if Chawanmushi and Thai fish cake had a lovechild, this would be it. Dotted with substantial flakes of seabass, the silky otah just slips down your throat, leaving traces of complex spice. We had loads of fun assembling our Kueh Pie Tee
($10), filling the pastry cups with turnip braised till soft and sweet, and topping them with shreds of crabmeat and dried shrimp. A garlicky hot sauce, worthy to be slurped on its own, adorns what is indisputably the showpiece of Peranakan cuisine.
In between bites of IndoCafe’s family-style dishes, give the quadrilogy ofkeropoks
– the restaurant’s equivalent of a bread basket – some love. After all, they deserve it, what with lobster, prawn, onion and belinjio
(a type of nut used to make Indonesian chips) flavours, accompanied with a piquant nonya achar
and a salted fish relish.
The mains impressed and made us wonder why the one-year-old eatery has been under the radar for so long. We couldn’t say the same for the desserts though, so we’re hoping that this part of the menu continues to stay low-profile. For the mains, the Beef Rendang
($32) deftly combined chewy tendon and tender cheek flesh in a coconut gravy so flavourful, it’s almost as if the stew had been simmering forever. The Seabass in a Gulai Tumis
dish ($40) is first fried then drenched in nonya curry, providing great textural contrasts and flavour combinations. It’s not too fleshy a fish we had, but since the sour curry was begging for rice, we were filled nonetheless.
The Ayam Buah Keluak
($24) was not the writer’s favourite, but then again, it is a first try at the Straits-Chinese classic. It was hard to dig out the mix of minced chicken and buah kelauk from the Indonesian nut without the potential danger of sending the nut flying across the dining room...