Fur-milies, rejoice! There’s a new zi char joint in town and it’s not located in a humid coffee shop. Situated right next to Zhongshan Mall, I.N.U Pet Friendly Cafe is a spacious 2,347 sq ft double-storey eatery. The premises used to be occupied by Paw Pet-radise Cafe, but it was bought over and rebranded last June.

We’ve got to admit that it doesn’t look like your regular zi char place. With high ceilings and sturdy black tables that are evenly spaced out, this cafe-like venue
exudes a contemporary vibe. Colourful donut-shaped cushions sit on built-in black benches. The walls are peppered with the joint’s latest menu promotions. A rack of chic pet accessories, treats and beds can be found next to the cashier counter. The first floor, which can sit up to 50 customers, is split into an upper and lower deck. The second floor is cosier, quieter, and takes up to 25 diners. I.N.U also hosts private parties and weekend markets, so be sure to check its Facebook page for updates.

The extensive menu includes classic zi char fare like Black Pepper Crab ($69), Salted Egg Squid ($25), Prawn Paste Chicken ($15), Mapo Beancurd ($13), and Sweet & Sour Pork ($15). For those looking to enjoy a one-person meal, there’s I.N.U’s Signature Bak Kut Teh ($11.80). Furkids also get to enjoy doggy meals made from human-grade ingredients like oats and chia seeds. Felines and small critters are welcome too, as long as they’re well-behaved and housed in carriers.

If you’re in the mood for some excellent seafood, try the Black Pepper Crab—it packs some serious heat and comes with a good amount of roe. The Salted Egg Squid features crisp battered chunks of squid topped with a decadent golden sauce. The Fragrant La La is stir-fried with garlic, chilli and spices. The Prawn Paste Chicken doesn’t disappoint either. We really enjoyed the XO Fried Rice, a flavourful toss of squid, capsicum, prawns and egg. For the greens, try the Broccoli w Scallops ($18) and the tangy Thai-Style Beancurd ($13), which are refreshingly light dishes. Satiate your thirst with the cafe’s light Flora Tea ($9) or order a bucket of four Tiger Beers
($20) during happy hour, which is from 3pm to 7pm.

Surprisingly, for an air-conditioned zi char place, the double-storey cafe is clean and well-ventilated. The high ceilings add to the spaciousness, and the divide between the upper and lower deck on the first floor is great for pooches that need space.

There’s a common area in the centre of the cafe for pooches to run around and mingle. A push cart containing pet toiletries is conveniently stationed at the corner of the main hall; a large water bowl is placed centrally, and the helpful staff love to dish out free treats. As for food, Fido has the luxury of choosing from Waggies Bites ($6.90), which are baked liver bites, or Wooflesburg ($9.90), a pork patty with tofu, peas and carrots, which is served between toasted waffles. On a hot day, order Woopie Chillers ($6.90) for your pup, which is frozen yoghurt, or Woofles Ice Cream ($6.90).

This is the first pet-friendly zi char place we’ve heard of and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. The cafe’s dishes pack a punch of flavour, there’s enough variety to ensure you never try the same thing twice, and it’s a boon that Fido has his own menu as well. Airy, roomy and clean, it’s also conveniently located and there’s ample parking space nearby. We’re definitely coming back again with our own fur-milies.

I.N.U Pet Friendly Cafe
530 Balestier Road
#01-07 Monville Mansion
Singapore 329857
Tel: 8189 8092
Opening hours: 12pm-10pm (Sun to Thurs); 12pm-11pm (Fri to Sat). Last orders 1 hour before closing.

This is an excerpt from our Pet-Friendly Venue column. For the full story, flip to pg 32 of our Feb/Mar 2018 issue!