Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pepes - Flavour of Indonesia

**I would like to apologise beforehand, for the poor picture quality. The lighting in the restaurant was pretty dim.**

My bosses brought us to Ngee Ann City Shopping Centre for a 'mission'. However, right before that, we'll be having lunch first.

We were pondering about where to lunch, before eventually settling on Sanur Indonesian Restaurant. My boss remarked about how she's not been been dining there for a long while. Myself meanwhile, wondered just how much the restaurant chain have changed; since my stint there as a waitress, during the period between post O-levels and pre-poly.

After all those conversations about the food there and all, imagine how crestfallen I was; to discover another restaurant occupying that space. Incidentally, it's also an Indonesian restaurant. Hmmm…

Then I recalled a jingle being played on local radio sometime back, advertising this very restaurant and how my boss was keen to try it out but never really got down to it.

We duly informed her of the change and she told us to go ahead anyway and place the orders. Here's where the fun starts…

There are only 2 pages on the menu. Less than 30 items. Some say- it's limited choices. I say- it makes choosing easier!

Nasi Kuning

Taste and texture-wise, it's very similar to Nasi Lemak, just that they added tumeric for colour. Sanur serve this too.

Sup Buntut

My colleague just can't resist ordering this favourite of his. Since 1 bowl is a single portion, we ordered 3 bowls to be shared amongst us 6.

Very light-tasting soup, with bite-sized carrots & potatoes plus similar-sized oxtail pieces for added consistency.


When we ordered this, we were informed beforehand by the server, that the gado-gado here is prepared differently than the norm. We ordered it anyway. I mean, how differently can one prepare gado-gado, right?

Wrong. The gado-gado here remind me more of Chinese fruit rojak. Sweet, spicy and TANGY. I recall the server mentioning, "...pineapples are also added.." I guess that's why.

It's not that this dish isn't nice. Just that we were so looking forward to a particular taste and when served differently, we were kinda' deterred. Just too bad. I like those crispy lotus chips served on the side, though.

Tahu Telur

The ubiquitous tahu telur. I had thought that this reminded me a lot like the ones from Sanur, save for the fact that this egg-tofu tower is slightly smaller and is squarish instead of cylindrical.

They were a tad stingy with the sauce, though. I expect there to be more of it served on the side but there was none. Pfft.

The tahu telur does feel and taste somewhat like the ones from Sanur. Hmmm…

Pepes Udang

Since we were dining at a restaurant called 'pepes', we can't help feeling obliged to order their namesake.

Generally 'pepes' is a type of food where stuff like veggie or meat (most commonly, fish) are covered with spicy sauce and wrapped in banana leaf. There are various methods of cooking- like steaming, grillling or even boiling.

We ordered the prawn version, since one of my boss is a slight Ichthoyophobic.

I don't know if the pepes here is grilled or what. The banana leaf that it's served on seemed too... clean. And there was hardly any of that smoky aroma that usually accompany a grilled dish. Could be that they prepare the food separately and simply serve on the banana leaf. And then topped with boiled tapioca shoots (this part is pretty authentic) and fresh lemon basil leaves .

I like the sauce. Slightly spicy and I can easily detect the various spices used to prepare it, like lemongrass, garlic etc.

I remember the only 'pepes' available at Sanur is made of fish and reminded me a lot like bigger, chunkier and pretty spicy 'otah'. Just who can forget the whole cili padi embedded inside?!

Ayam Goreng

My colleague chose this.

There were like 3-4 types of chicken dishes and he picked this, basically because it's fried. I'm curious about another chicken dish on the menu, 'Ayam Pop', supposedly chicken that's simmered in something nicely-spiced and topped with with cut chillies and chopped onions.

This fried chicken however, is so… meh. Not comparable to those crispy ayam penyet one can get right across the road at Lucky Plaza and also not as delish as the Ayam Goreng Istimewa from Desa Kartika. But it's decent.

Cumi Bakar

A perennial favourite with the folks at our company, somehow. We always order this whenever we detect it on the restaurant's menu.

I remember that the first time we had this grilled squid together was at Jimbaran, Bali. That famed, touristy stretch of seafood restaurants by the beach.

The cumi bakar here is prepared simply. Somewhat slathered with sweet soy sauce when grilled. And cooked just nice, with the meat staying tender to the bite.

We also ordered both their beef & chicken satay. While the beef one was so-so, the chicken satay were delicious! The peanut sauce however, seemed a little too thick and chunky for my liking.

Es Avocado

Now this tastes A LOT like the ones from Sanur. Seriously.

Chilled, thick avocado puree topped with mocha syrup. Not chocolate, not gula melaka but the bittersweet mocha syrup. Taste as mind-blowing as ever. Love it!


My colleague did suggest, that this restaurant could be under the same management as Sanur but I was apprehensive about the idea.

Despite the same concept, the food here is slightly different. Seems a lil' on the healthier side, if you ask me. Plus, the casual attire worn by the staff wasn't even reminiscent of the kebaya-clad waitress of Sanur's heydays.

As it turns out, yeah, this restaurant is owned by the wife of one of the brothers behind Sanur; so I heard. The brother who interviewed my good pal and me during our job interview that time; without us knowing that he's THE boss. We even had a pretty casual chat with him during that question & answer session. Imagine our horror when the ACTUAL manager told us, who he really is. *gulp*

The 'Mission'

Anyway, remember the 'mission' that brought our company down to Takashimaya? It's got to do with the above picture…

That was last week's news, of course. This week, well… lets just say that the mission has been 'accomplished'. :)

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