Peranakan-inspired Lunar New Year Feast at INDOCAFE - the white house

Posted by ~Summer~ on 28.1.14
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When I think of Chinese New Year, I think of Chinatown, mandarin oranges, new year goodies, lion dance, ang pows, new year greetings and firecrackers. But more than all these, CNY is about reunion, about long overdue gatherings with friends and family, about taking a step back from whatever is keeping you busy and spending time to catch up and bond with the people who make a difference in your life.

And what is the one thing that is never missing during reunion gatherings? Four letters. Starts with F. No, don't think otherwise.

It is F-O-O-D.

Not just food, but good food. Abalone, shark fins, scallop, crab, chicken, duck, fish and every other delicacy that you can dream of. It is not the time to worry about that waistline or the calorie count during this period. In fact, it's the one time of the year when you should feel free to indulge, to savour, to relish and to feast.

Last week, we were invited to try out the first ever Chinese New Year reunion menu at INDOCAFE - the white house. And since it was a lavish ten-course menu, you bet it was a feast.

Located along Scotts Road, INDOCAFE - the white house is a holding place for modern Peranakan cuisine, fine coffee appreciation and cultural performing arts.

Patrons can choose to dine at the spacious main dining room which sits over 30, opt for a more intimate session in one of the two private rooms which sit maximum four and eight separately, or hold a group function in the 22-seater room located between the restaurant and the Arts and Cultural Centre.


This being our first time there, we were pleasantly surprised by the cosy ambience and homely setup of the restaurant. Warm lighting, hardwood furniture, exquisite antiques, even the cutlery was accentuated with rich Peranakan motifs which combine to create a memorable dining experience.

The menu for the evening was the Magnificent Harvest of Abundance and Fortune Reunion Menu 丰裕满堂大团圆. I love the auspicious, rhythmic sounds of the Chinese names so I am including them there for those of you who speak and read the language. Anyway, can you believe that I began to drool from the first time I laid my eyes on the menu? I mean, on the outside I wasn't salivating since that would look crude in a lush restaurant, but deep down, I just couldn't wait to start eating.

1) INDOCAFE- the white house Flourishing Brilliance Yu Sheng 七彩缤纷捞鱼生



Yu Sheng, which literally means raw fish, is a dish not to be missed during the CNY period since it symbolises an abundance of wealth and vigour. Served on a beautiful red plate, this was topped with fresh slices of salmon, tuna and swordfish and what stood out was the deep fried crispy fish skin which we do not see in a typical Yu Sheng dish. In addition to the usual sauces and condiments, the unique offering of this Peranakan-inspired dish was the addition of an aromatic spicy sauce - or so called curry. We managed to scoop out some ingredients for the kids without the sauce but as for the hubby and I, we totally loved the new combination.

2) Treasures of the Sea Platter 海皇献宝三拼盘

You know how a typical cold platter comes with all the different food served on one plate? Boring. For a change, it was a delight to see our platter served individually on these neat woven serving trays and bright, beautiful plates.

Now for the close-up, the platter consisted of King Crab Salad served on Belingo cracker, Kueh Pai Tee Scallop and Abalone with Jellyfish. The hubby gave thumbs up for the Kueh Pai Tee and although the scallop and salmon roe were fresh, what won his heart was the sweet, juicy taste of the main filling - shredded Chinese turnips and carrots in this popular Peranakan dish. For me, my favourite of the three was the crab, which was fresh, naturally sweet and combined with the slight bitter taste of Belinjo topped with caviar, it was simply palatable.

3) Glorious Fortune Consommé 锦绣好市发财汤

For the consommé, it consisted of oyster, dried scallop, kurobuta pork ribs, sea moss and wolfberries. This didn't stand out as particularly delicious to us and I thought it was a little too peppery for my liking. However, the hubby could attest to the freshness and size of the oyster which was bigger than my thumb.

4) Harvest of Immense Opulence 珠光宝气财丰收

My aunt was the one who taught me about Nam Yue and how I could incorporate it into my cooking. For those who don't know, Nam Yue refers to red fermented beancurd which is salty and has a very distinctive flavour. We loved the crisp and taste of this Nam Yue Pork Chop and even Angel couldn't help but ask for one slice after another.

5) Bountiful Ocean Treasures 丰衣足食年年好

If you know us, you should know that we are a family who loves to eat rice. I mean, we cannot survive steamboat dinners without rice and we even go to wedding banquets requesting for bowls of white rice. So, it was a relief to see that the menu included a fried rice dish. If you are wondering why it is black, it is because this was a Keluak Fried Rice (keluak means black nut) topped with Prawns, Scallops and Crab Meat. While I liked the overall taste, can you guess who was the biggest fan of this dish and ate surprisingly a lot? Well, the youngest one of us - Ariel.

6) Bouquet of Content & Bliss 喜气洋洋笑哈哈

Coincidentally, we watched the first episode of Wok Stars which talked about Peranakan cooking and the making of rempah, a spice paste that forms the foundation of many dishes. Although I am not a big lover of either prawns or spicy food, these Aromatic Spiced Jumbo Prawns were so succulent and rich in flavour that I finished my share and ate an extra bite off the hubby's, which rarely happens.

7) Pinnacle of Success 大鹏展翅迎新春
 
Roasted chicken has always been one of my favourite dishes at banquets. That tender flesh and crispy skin dipped with a little salt, well, simply irresistible. What made this stand out from the ones I had eaten was that this was a Masala Roasted Chicken. Masala is a mixture of ground spices normally seen in Indian cookery. So, this wasn't really Peranakan in our view but did we love it? Yes, very much and it would easily go into my top three favourite dishes for the evening. And which was the kids' favourite part? Not the chicken, but the prawn crackers.

8) Abundance of Boundless Triumph 蒸蒸日上大红班

Being quite a seafood expert, the hubby is usually quite strict when it comes to fish and if you steam it just half a minute more than it needs, it becomes overcooked in his opinion. So while I thought this Steamed Red Garoupa was excellently cooked, he thought that it could do with just a little less time in the steamer. For this dish, you can choose to have the non-spicy Tao Cheong or the spicy Nyonya spice. I was hoping to try the latter because it sounded more uncommon but we decided to go with the former so that the kids could try it too.

9) Ushering Wealth and Good Fortune 招财进宝福星照

Coming to the last dish before the dessert, this was the Braised Wong Bok with Abalone, Mushrooms and Sea Cucumber. The taste of this dish reminded us of the third dish, the consommé, but nonetheless we loved the freshness and tenderness of the abalone and mushrooms. I didn't try the sea cucumber, not a fan of that chewy thing, but the hubby did say it was pretty good too.

10) Everlasting Peace & Harmony 百年好合大团圆

Yippee! We made it to the last one - Glutinous Rice Dumplings with Ginger Syrup. With black sesame paste as the filling, the rice dumplings were sweet, not overly sticky and served with a ginger infused syrup, these tang yuans were the perfect ending to the night.

Here are a couple more pictures of our little reunion and the happy smiles around the table.


Oh, by the way, the hubby also loved the Signature House Blend Coffee while I thought the Herbal Tea (mixture of Pandan, Bael and Lemongrass) was surprisingly refreshing.

All in all, we totally enjoyed the dinner and considering this is the first time INDOCAFE - the white house has devised a Lunar New Year menu, it is definitely a commendable effort and we loved the unique Peranakan flavours and twists they brought to the table. This would definitely be one of the most memorable dining experiences we ever had.

******
 
INDOCAFE - the white house is located at 35 Scotts Road, Singapore 228227. It opens from 12pm to 3pm and 6pm to 10.30pm daily. To view the CNY menu which is available for lunch and dinner from 18 Jan to 18 Feb (closed from 2 to 4 Feb), click here. Reservations are strongly encouraged due to limited seating. For reservations, please call (+65) 6733 2656.

Disclosure: We were invited to a complimentary food tasting session at INDOCAFE - the white house to review the new Lunar New Year menu. Most dishes were portioned out for us accordingly but we did get a colossal plate of Yu Sheng which we gladly shared with the friendly waiters. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions are our own.

2 comments:

  1. Wow what a feast! Are you sure you can finish it?! Hahah

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a big, yummy feast! We tried our utmost to finish it and I think we did pretty well! =)

      Delete

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