The Rice Table has been one of my all-time favourite Indonesian restaurants in Singapore ever since my college mate introduced me to it more than a decade ago when we were hosting our lecturer who was in town from the States. And whenever I need to host friends from overseas every now and then, this is definitely a preferred place to go to not just because the food is good but because a rijsttafel (say ryst-tah-fell – it literally means ‘rice table’ in Dutch) is uncommon in Singapore. Though Rice Table claims that they are the only authentic Dutch rijsttafel in Singapore, The Moluccas Room @ MBS actually does a similar rijsttafel ala carte buffet too. Putting that aside, I still have my two thumbs up for Rice Table simply for its selections (my type of food) and their delightful flavours of spices that never fail to leave our palates and tummies happy and so very satisfied.
I made a revisit to Rice Table not long ago. This time for lunch with the husband. The last time I blogged about Rice Table was in 2010 so we were pretty excited to find out if everything was still as good as before. The restaurant has only one outlet in Singapore and is a small establishment located at International Building. As tables are limited, it is definitely advisable to make a reservation in advance.
This is the lunch and dinner menu. Basically, at an additional $10.60 for dinner, you’d get to enjoy 5 extra dishes on top of the lunch menu.
The moment we were seated, it didn’t take long for all the food to arrive. That’s the beauty of a rijsttafel. We need not get out of our seats to grab food, neither did we need to tick off any order chit. Every single item you see on the menu will be served automatically unless there is something on it that you do not want to be served, then you’d have to inform the service staff. It was only after we finished the first round of food then we would order additional servings of specific dishes – unlimited times – as much as we could possibly stomach. Steamed white rice that was fluffy and fragrant was free flow too.
While drinks used to be free flow, it’s no longer the same case now. We ordered the Lime Juice and Sourplum Juice ($3.50 each) which were cold and refreshing. I preferred the Lime to Sourplum as the latter was a little too sweet for my liking.
A quick run-through of the dishes on the warmer. The Curried Tofu was just fried egg tofu in a slightly watered down curry gravy. Pretty ordinary, nothing to rave about. The Kangkong Belachan was oily and wasn’t really spicy. Not much of the belachan flavour. Quite bland overall. The Ladyfingers in Bean Sauce was surprisingly good. They weren’t slimy inside and had a nice flavour of fermented soy beans. I used to adore their Otak but this time I thought they tasted…meh. The Vegetables in Coconut Stew was delicious with a rich flavour of coconut milk. The Fried Sweet and Sour Fish was coated in what I thought was just sweet chilli sauce. The exterior batter was a little soggy but I liked the fish that was fresh and flaky. The Grilled Chicken was good but came in too big pieces that I felt sickly of rather quickly. The Curry Chicken had a thick and robust gravy that complemented the white rice really well.
Besides these dishes, there were also the following:
The Javanese chicken soup tasted exactly like the broth of Soto Ayam. It came with minced chicken, glass vermicelli and chopped hard-boiled eggs and was really flavoursome.
I particularly liked the picked cucumber slices that were vinegary, sour and sweet. Very appetising and they kinda refreshed our palates every time we started to feel a little sickly.
The Indonesian Fruit Salad comprised of apple and pineapple chunks. A little like rojak but the sauce just wasn’t robust enough.
This Tahu Telor was the star for me. It was tasty more than 10 years ago and it still is today. Fried egg shreds and tofu in a lovely peanut sauce. Though it was greasy (oozed a little oil), it was just addictive. I just lost count on the number of servings I had.
Besides the Tahu Telor, the following two dishes were also worth seconds or even thirds:
The Chicken Satay was so tender and moist. And the peanut sauce was thick, creamy, sweet and nutty. Nothing to fault about, really.
The Beef Rendang was fork tender and the rempah was so aromatic with spices. I dare to say this is one of the best beef rendangs I’d tried so far. Robust and packed full of punch. Highly recommended!
And to round up our meal, we decided to try their Es Chendol ($3.75) for the first time.
The chendol wasn’t very sweet and had a lovely aroma from the coconut milk. The portion wasn’t too big and was good enough to share between two persons just to refresh those taste buds after consuming such a rich meal beforehand.
What I was very impressed with was that Rice Table managed to keep the same price since 4 years ago. Lunch was $17.88 nett per person then and it is $17.90 nett now. With rising costs in almost everything in Singapore, they chose to keep their buffets as affordable as last time which was something really commendable especially when the number of dishes and quality of food weren’t compromised at all. The only change I noticed in the lunch menu was that the Sambal Udang they used to have (now only available in dinner menu) had been replaced by Curried Tofu which wasn’t a major issue to me since there were so many more other dishes to go for.
As this restaurant was more of a casual one, do not expect top-notch service especially during busy meal times. Anyway, prices are nett and we aren’t paying for service, it’s not really a big deal. Service staff weren’t exceptionally warm and friendly but were all polite and efficient. I love variety which is why I enjoy dining here. It’s just like having our favourite nasi padang with a lot more ingredients and in the comfort of air-conditioning. Besides, this is one of the very few wallet-friendly buffets in the heart of Orchard Road. If you like heavy flavours and hearty portions, do not miss out on this great find.
The Rice Table Indonesian Restaurant
360 Orchard Road
#02-09/10 International Building
Tel: 6835 3783 / 6835 3782
Opens: 12.00pm to 2.30pm (lunch), 6.00pm to 9.30pm (dinner) daily