Indocafe The White House: Lovely Peranakan Ambience
Motorists passing through Scotts Road cannot miss the row of black-and-white bungalows. This is where Indocafe, the Peranakan restaurant is located and it is just next to Song of India, another established restaurant. The bungalows stand out prominently and they look majestic from the outside.
You are not wrong if you think you have just walked into a Peranakan home. The interior of Indocafe looks like a dining room complete with parquet flooring, Peranakan antiques and a framed miniature of an intricately embroidered kebaya.
During weekdays, the restaurant serves choices of 3-course set lunch at $19.90 per person and Penang ala carte buffet at $29 per person during weekdays and $33 per person on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays. The Penang buffet is available from 3 June to 14 August.
There are 20 items in the buffet menu including 3 desserts. I tried all the dishes except the Kway Teow Th’ng which is flat rice noodle with duck, pork and fish balls.
The dish which I found outstanding was the belachan kay or deep-fried chicken marinated with shrimp paste, served with chilli sauce. This is the same as the ‘har cheong gai’. The deep-fried chicken was coated with flour mixed with the shrimp paste, and the outside was crispy, while the meat inside was still moist.
The Tu Boh Sui or blanched baby octopus served with peanut chilli dip was bland and tasteless. The dip just could not perk up the flavour. There was another squid dish which is the Sotong Panggang or grilled marinated squid served with homemade sambal, and although it fared better, there still wasn’t enough oomph.
Some of the passable dishes were Pasembur or sweet turnips, beancurd and eggs served with homemade sweet and sour potato dressing; Lor Bak or deep-fried beancurd, yam, Ngoh Hiang, fish cake and century egg served with chilli dip; Jiu Hu Eng Chye or blanched cuttlefish with water spinach and shrimp paste; O’Jian or pan fried omelette with ocean oyster, chives and chilli; Rojak or assorted fruits with homemade shrimp paste sauce and Stingray Panggang or grilled marinated stingray served with homemade sambal.
The Jiu Hu Eng Chye lacked a strong sauce especially when the cuttlefish and water spinach (kang kong) were blanched.
The Kueh Pie Tee shells were served separately from the ingredients which were made of shredded turnips, crabmeat, cuttlefish and shrimps as well as garlic chili. Thankfully, there was still that delightful crunch with each bite.
Soupy dishes such as Bak Kut Teh, Hokkien Hae Mee and Assam Laksa passed muster. The Bak Kut Teh was prepared in a Penang-style broth with pork belly, pork ribs and Chinese herbs with premium soya sauce.
For desserts, the Bubur Cha Cha came with yam, sweet potatoes, banana and tapioca in coconut milk. It was served hot and came with a bowl of ice just in case you would prefer to eat it cold. Si Quai Teng, also known as ching teng, came with dried longan, barley, red bean, potato, lotus seed, jelly and winter melon strips. This dessert certainly had a strong dried longan taste, which probably meant that it was brewed for quite some time. The iced chendol with coconut milk, rice flour jelly, palm sugar and red beans was rather refreshing. My only gripe was the ice chips, which were quite irritating to bite into.
Most of the dishes lacked the robust taste of spices or the sauce was weak. Taste-wise, the Penang hawker stalls serve better Penang food.
35/35A Scotts Road
Mondays to Fridays & Eve of Public Holidays: 12.00 pm to 3 pm, 6.pm to 10.30pm
Saturdays to Sundays & Public Holidays: 12 pm to 10.30 pm.