INDOCAFÉ Peranakan Dining – a Homage to the Richness of Peranakan Culture


The stately old colonial building that houses INDOCAFÉ Peranakan Dining is hard to miss. Though tucked away like a precious heirloom amid Scotts Road in Orchard, the distinguished black and white structure draws the eye if one happens to drive or walk past. It stands quietly and proudly, inviting the passerby to indulge in the delights of the Michelin Bib Gourmand Award-winning Peranakan Restaurant within. I’ve been curious about this place, always meaning to visit it, but not knowing what to expect. I’m glad to have been invited to try the Signature Tasting Menu by acclaimed Chef Heng Eng Ho.

Peranakan food always reminds me of a home-cooked meal prepared with care by a loved one. A skilled chef makes the arduous process of coaxing the best flavours and harmonising ingredients seem easy, but in truth, hours are spent behind the scenes to prep the dishes to perfection. It’s a meticulous process, only achievable by the truly dedicated chef. Chef Ho is certainly up to the task, with more than 20 years of experience and a personal dedication to preserving the Peranakan culture. This passion shines through in his dishes.

My Signature Tasting Menu (S$98++ per pax) culinary voyage began with a classic starter trio of Signature Kueh Pie Tee (S$19), Ngoh Hiang ($19), and Nonya Otah Otah (S$16). I relished the moreish Kueh Pie Tee with its crunchy pastry cup and tasty shredded turnips. The chilli sauce and kecap manis further enhanced and elevated its flavours. The Ngoh Hiang was just as satisfying. The pork rolls were expertly marinated in five-spice powder, the chopped water chestnuts giving it texture and a pleasant crunch. Rounding up the trio, the Otah Otah was so plump and stuffed with mackerel, its secret blend of spices gave it just the right kick.

It was my first time trying Itek Tim (S$14), a sour vegetable duck leg soup that’s full of complex flavours. Maybe too complex for my palate, which is why I was unable to fully appreciate it. Here, a duck leg is boiled to tenderness, with pickled mustard greens lending it its distinctive tartness, seasoned with nutmeg and enlivened with a dash of brandy.

One of the highlights for me and my dining companion is the Babi Pongteh (S$28). It’s a delightful dish of Spanish Iberico pork belly marinated to the bone with fermented soybean paste and cooked with potatoes, aromatic spices, onion and garlic.

I was blown away by the Wagyu Beef Rendang (S$38). Made with premium Wagyu beef, the marbling made it so tender that the meat readily yielded to my fork and melted in my mouth. I’ve been too used to eating tough rendang, where the meat is stringy and full of gristle. The wagyu made all the difference. Meat quality-wise, this is by far the best I’ve had in a rendang. However, the meat had a very strong gamey taste that even the rempah, shrimp paste, chilli, coconut milk and everything else was unable to mask. I think if they took care of this aspect of the dish, they’d easily have something special.

Ikan Sambal Bunga Kantan (S$39) is INDOCAFÉ’s deep-fried take on a fiery sweet-and-sour flavour using the Patagonian toothfish while the Dry Laksa (S$26) is the soupless version of everyone’s favourite dish that retains all the appeal of laksa.

The tasting menu comes to a sweet end with Signature Kueh Salat (S$15), a light, creamy pandan custard, fragranced with coconut milk and layered with soft glutinous rice, served with a side of coconut ice cream on a bed of desiccated coconut.

If you’re new to Peranakan cuisine or simply wish to sample the best of Chef Ho’s creations, the Signature Tasting Menu is a great way to experience just that. The restaurant itself is a loving homage to the richness of Peranakan culture, its walls adorned with Kebaya, form-fitting, intricately embroidered colourful blouses worn by the Nonyas. They also have a whole wall dedicated to Blackwood Furniture, which is Chinese-style furniture inlaid with iridescent mother-of-pearl that was part of the formal furniture setting in traditional Peranakan houses. A visit is like a trip back in time, and an immersive sensorial experience of Peranakan culture that’s a treat to the senses.

INDOCAFÉ Peranakan Dining
35 Scotts Road
Singapore 228227

Operating Hours: Tue to Sun – 12pm to 3pm and 6pm to 10.30pm; Closed on Mon.


About Author

An aspiring UI/UX Designer, Vanessa Chan is a lifelong creator with a penchant for whimsy. When she's not dreaming of her next travel destination, you'll find her engrossed in a good fantasy novel or playing an RPG game. She thinks all animals are her friends.

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