Rumah Rasa – Sedap Indonesian Food?

5 05 2012

Ever since I was a tween, I have always had Indonesian tenants living with me under one roof. Most of them are part of the same extended family and came out to Singapore due to the supposedly better education system. My home hosted 8 of them at our peak, all kids around my age and we would watch anime and cartoons together and play games like Risk and soccer in our free time. It is also thanks to them that I have had some contact with Indonesian cuisine, whenever they brought out food and keropok from Indonesia. Growing up however, I was never a fan of spicy food, though my palate has evolved somewhat since then. So I was glad to get an invitation by Rumah Rasa, a new Indonesian restaurant housed within Bay Hotel located opposite Vivocity as I seldom encounter Indonesian restaurants in Singapore (the only other restaurants in this genre that come to mind is Kintamani Indonesian Restaurant at Furama Hotel and Bumbu Restaurant).

Heading the kitchen at Rumah Rasa is veteran Chef Sharifah, who has previously honed her skills at SATS, Raffles Hotel and St Regis. She comes across as a humble lady with a real passion for her trade, and I was looking forward to be educated on what authentic Indonesian cuisine is really about. The other bloggers present at this tasting were a friendly and relatable bunch, Rachel from Oyster Dairies, Dawn from 365Days2Play, and Peter from Ho Chiak.

Since Rumah Rasa is the hotel’s sole restaurant at this time, the kitchen caters to both room service, dine-ins and takeaways, doubling up as a breakfast venue for guests staying at the hotel. Revelers from St James will be pleased to note that this eatery is open from 6am to 4am daily.

Arriving slightly ahead of schedule, I was first served some Belinjau Chips while waiting for the other guests to arrive. I have had this a couple of times at home, but always thought it was tapioca chips. Belinjau is actually a type of nut-like fruit that turns from green to yellow to red upon ripening. The chips are mildly bitter so I don’t really like to eat it on its own, however it does go well with sambal. To cool of the spicy sambal, I also had a Ais Serai aka “Homemade Lemon Grass Juice” ($6++). Initially, it tasted unexpectedly sharp because quite a bit of carbonated soda water was used to make the drink but it got better as the ice melted. Would have opted for a still version if it was available.

The Soto Ayam Madura ($8++) is appetizing but it is not one of the more spectacular dishes here in my opinion. It’s simply a light and hearty Chicken Consomme with Shreaded Chicken, Beansprouts and topped with a Potato Croquette.

You can’t go very wrong with the Ayam Korma ($14++) aka Chicken simmered in Mild Yellow Curry.

The Tahu Telur Surabaya ($8++) is made using Fried Beancurd and Egg topped with Sweet and Spicy Dark Sauce. The taste is about there, very nice and eggy but what was lacking was the accompanying crispness as it seemed like the Tahu Telur had been left in the open for some time.

The Sayur Lodeh ($8++) is made with Mixed Vegetables in fragrant Coconut Gravy. It’s a personal preference but I prefer mine to be heavy on the coconut milk, so that the gravy is very thick and rich. I felt that the one here is too watered down but apparently, this is how it is done in Indonesia.

One of the better dishes today, the Udang Petai Belado ($18++) or Prawns Stir-fried in Chili Gravy with Petai Beads was fantastic. The prawns were fresh and the chili had enough oomph to make me swelter. As I’m not really into spicy food, my knowledge on the differences between the different sambals is extremely limited so it forces me to go online to understand more once I encounter terms like “Belado”. At the back of my mind, I always thought that sambal just means chili but in reality, there are many different varieties of sambal. Two common types would be Belado and Belacan and they possess very different tastes and origin. Belado has an Indonesian influence while Belacan is more Malaysian. The main difference between the 2 is that in addition to the common ingredients like Chili, Garlic, Lime Juice, Salt and Oil used for both sambals, Belado requires the addition of Tomatoes as a base ingredient while Belacan requires that Shrimp paste be added. So I would think that Belado is slightly more watery, has a brighter colour and less salty (because of the lack of shrimp paste) compared to Belacan.

The Ikan Bakar Rumah Rasa ($28++) is a Charcoal Grilled Red Snapper marinated in turmeric and topped with homemade Spicy Sauce (as stated in the menu), though the wait staff said it was Sea Bass. Not sure 100% which is right but I believe this was Sea Bass. Taste-wise isn’t worth much mention.

Rendang Sumatra ($14++) or Beef simmered in spicy Coconut Gravy was pretty good. Some people like their beef lean and meaty, while other like theirs fatty and tender. I lean more towards the latter. The beef here is lean, but not tough to chew. Out of all the dishes we tasted, general consensus was that this was a clear favourite.

The Paru Belado ($12++) is Crispy Beef Lungs served with Chopped Chilis and Onions, something I haven’t tried before and didn’t even knew could be eaten prior to this meal. I had always wondered why we can eat chicken and pig liver but never their lungs and I just shrugged it off thinking its probably a very dirty organ like fishes gills that we don’t eat. So today was definitely an eye opener. When it first comes out piping hot from the fryer, it really tastes quite good with the chili, crispy like keropok. There was some remnants of a bloody taste though, so if you don’t like organs like liver, you would probably want to skip this.

The Ayam Panggang Berkakak Jakarta ($14++) aka Grilled Chicken served with Rumah Rasa’s Homemade Spicy Sauce is decent, a nice mix of savoury and sweet as the chicken is marinated using palm sugar as well.

I would definitely recommend the desserts here. We had the Deep Fried Banana Fritters served with Vanilla Ice Cream ($8++), which had a very light batter so one can definitely polish this off on your own.

The Es Chendol ($6++) made using Fresh Coconut Milk with Kidney Beans, Green Jelly and Sugar Syrup is great too. A creamy dessert is a fitting end to a spicy meal.

Overall, I felt that there weren’t any dishes that was particularly sedap (delicious), but nothing was incredibly terrible either but it’s indeed a good place for an introductory lesson into Indonesian cuisine.

Rumah Rasa

50 Telok Blangah Road, Bay Hotel

Tel: +65 6818 6681

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5 responses

8 05 2012
peterchong

Nice review Peter…

8 05 2012
drpiggy

thanks peter!

9 05 2012
365days2play

Hey my comment disappeared! Anyway just wanted to say that it was great meeting you at Rumah Rasa and your photos look good!

9 05 2012
drpiggy

yea great meeting you too! we will prob bump into one another soon. anw i read on your blog that you are an investment analyst. which firm are you at? i go intern there next summer haha.

1 06 2012
Rubbish Eat Rubbish Grow

wow, your experience is completely different from mine. You like all the dishes I didn’t and I like all the dishes you didn’t. It’s super strange.

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