We've been wanting to try Indocafe, a Peranakan restaurant housed in a gorgeous black-and-white colonial along Scotts Road, ever since one of our friends facebook-ed photos of his dinner there. He's quite the foodie as well, and had raved about the food there. So you can imagine that we were stunned to find the restaurant completely empty when we arrived for dinner on a weekend night. We were baffled. The food's exquisitely refined, executed with much finesse, and service was, notwithstanding the lack of a dinner crowd, attentive, genuine and warm.
We're speculating that the general public may be mistaken that the historial bungalow is actually a coffee-producing factory, or that its Scotts Road location makes it a smidge inaccessible (a total fallacy because it's so totally walkable from Newton MRT station).
Indocafe's about half a notch more polished than Violet Oon's Kitchen, but its occupancy is as different as night and day from Vio's. The fact that Indocafe is so near to our home now makes it all the more enticing for us to be back for more. Sooner rather than later, before the restaurant closes down due to a lack of business.
The Kueh Pie Tee ($10), deconstructed for DIY-aficionados, was choc-a-bloc with a gazillion ingredients; crabmeat, prawns, pork belly. mushrooms, turnips, carrots and French beans. Although a sweetish garlicky chilli sauce rode alongside, ask for their sambal belachan instead. Its pungent fiery spice is much more compatible with the light clear taste of the filling.If you run out of kueh pie tee cups before you're done with the stuffing, they're more than happy to refill the cups.
The Hubs proclaimed the finely executed Chap Chye ($14) at Indocafe his favourite ever. The cabbage, carrots, black fungus, beancurd skin, prawns, and pork skin harmonized into a symphony of varied textures and sweetness in a rich but balanced prawn stock base.
The Tau Yu Bak ($22), a seldom seen dish in Peranakan restaurants but very often served in most Nonya households, was meltingly tender and thoroughly flavourful, having infused all of that luscious premium dark soy.
The only dish here that couldn't quite beat Violet Oon's Kitchen's version was the Pulot Hitam ($8), sweetened black glutinous rice porridge swirled with salted coconut milk. This possessed a controlled sweetness that was good to the last drop, but the consistency could have been a little tighter and thicker.
The appetizers, at $4 per person, may be a little excessive, but considering that it's all refillable, quite worthwhile. You've got the standard Crackers, luxed up by the fact that there are a trio of them, belinjau, prawn and fish keropok.
Daintily served in Chinese spoons, the Salted Fish Sambal was a brilliant foil to the slightly bitter accents of the belinjau crackers.
The liberal use of nuts in the Achar was reminscent of gado gado, a very good appetizer indeed that had the Hubs asking for thirds and fourths.
Indocafe The White House
35 Scotts Road
Tel: 6733 2656
Open daily from 12noon to 3pm for lunch; 6pm to 11.30pm for dinner