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Inside Scoop: IndoChili

Owner Madam Wahyuningsih of popular Indonesian restaurant IndoChili talks us through the traditions and flavours of Indonesian food, and shares (part of) the secret behind their popular Sate Ayam Madura.

Copy of Zion - Shopfront

Photo by IndoChili

1. Hi Madam Wahyuningsih! Tell us more about what led you to set up IndoChili.

It actually started way back when I was young and observed my grandmother's good health, even in her old age. I eventually found out that the secret to her well being was in the richly spiced food she cooked daily for her family. Being an Indonesian Peranakan, she was well versed in the art of traditional cooking. This inspired me to gather her recipes to share them with people everywhere. I started my food business in Indonesia in the late 80s. Our family later migrated to Singapore, and I started my F&B journey here in 2007 to realise my dream of sharing quality Indonesian food with the world.

2. Is there a story behind the name?

IndoChili is a combination of two most important characteristics of our restaurant. Indo comes from Indonesia, where our cuisine originates, and chilli is the most important spice in Indonesian cuisine. By combining these two words we wish to bring the best of Indonesian cuisine to the world.

3. The menu at IndoChili is described to be a curation of food from various parts of Indonesia. Where in Indonesia do you think has the tastiest food?

Tastiest would be the food from my kampong! Mine is a mixture of East Javanese and Central Javanese cuisines. That said, every type of traditional Indonesian food is very good — each is unique and has its own cultural meaning.


Photo by IndoChili

4. What is your favourite Indonesian dish, and why?

One of my favourite would be Nasi Tumpeng (yellow rice set). It is also the most popular ceremonial dish in Indonesia. You can't miss it when you are celebrating an important event. I like tumpeng for its variety and deliciousness, as well as the philosophical meaning behind it. The cone is shaped as a high mountain to represent God as the highest being that deserves our reverence. The meats and vegetables represent the different people living in a society. Some are richer, some are "spicier", but they all live in harmony, and no one is more important than the whole.

5. Tell us more about this celebratory dish of Nasi Tumpeng.

This dish is actually part of the royal tradition of Keraton, Yogyakarta in Central Java, and it has become an important tradition that permeates many societies in Indonesia. Tumpeng is well known for its conical rice shape and the variety of dishes surrounding it. It is a symbol of prayers, thanksgiving and harmony among the community.


Photo by Burppler Yong Kai

6. The Burpple community has great things to say about IndoChili’s Sate Ayam Madura. What’s the secret to making this dish so tasty?

Thank you :) We have a secret recipe, but part of the secret is to prepare the dish the traditional way — fresh spices, and cooked over charcoal embers, the kampong way! More work but also more love.

7. If you had to pick one dish on the menu that best encapsulates the essence of IndoChili, which would it be?

Beef Rendang. Rendang originated in Padang, Sumatra (one of the main Islands in Indonesia) but it is well known and well liked all over the world. It embodies what we wish to accomplish — to share quality Indonesian food to the world. Though it looks simple, many spices and time actually go into preparing the dish. It represents our love and commitment to the authentic traditions of food as well.


Photo by IndoChilli

8. Tell us more about your customers.

We are grateful that our customers come from all walks of life, especially those who travel across Singapore for our food. We are also proud to have served many local and global dignitaries, emissaries, state officials, and royal families in IndoChili. Some customers ask us to teach them how to make our satay sauce; others from overseas have reached out with franchise interests.

9. What’s on the pipeline for IndoChili?

We wish to continue serving the best Indonesian food to our customers, coupled with excellent service from our team. We are also looking for potential franchisees or business partners to accomplish our dreams of becoming the favourite global Indonesian restaurant brand.

All the talk about fiery Indonesian eats got you hungry for more? Check out what the community has to say about IndoChili here.