Kafe Betawi – Jakarta

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Kafe Betawi

Kafe Betawi is a chain of restaurants throughout Indonesia. As the name would suggest, they specialize in Soto Betawi, which is a soup made with beef, milk or coconut milk, and vegetables.

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Soto Betawi

This version of soto betawi was made with coconut milk, potatoes, tomatoes, basil, and beef and beef offal. The soup was creamy and mild. One of my main complaints with this soup was that it was served lukewarm rather than hot.

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Sweet Barley Soup

The next dish was dessert like. It had a barley taste with sweetener, and pieces of bread. It reminded me of a sweeter version of the barley drink served at many Korean restaurants following your meal.

I didn’t have the opportunity to try much of the menu at Kafe Betawi, but what I did have was more than passable. I know many people will scoff at this restaurant, as soto betawi can often be found on the street, in one of the many carts that dot the city.

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Sederhana Masakan Padang Restaurant – Jakarta

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Sederhana Masakan Padang Restaurant

For those who have never been to a padang type restaurant, it can be an intimidating endeavor.

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Overwhelming Choices

Once you are seated, you are given a plate of rice. Then, like a parade’s procession, dish after dish is placed on the table in front of you. The sheet number of dishes can be mind boggling.

You are not obligated to eat all of the dishes in front of you. In fact, you only pay for the dishes you eat.

Of the 19 dishes placed in front of us, we tried the beef rendeng, which was almost beef jerky like in texture, and was much spicier than past versions I’ve had. It was pretty good.

The perkedel, or potato patties, had a great potato taste, but was lacking the crisp exterior I was hoping for.

The morning glory was cooked well, and was a solid dish.

The eggplant was soft and tender, but was kind of oily.

The fried chicken was slightly on the dry side. As with the perkedel, a crisp exterior would have been appreciated.

The main drawback I see from eating at a padang restaurant, is that the food is cooked ahead of time. The second, and maybe most importantly, is that the food was served either slightly cold or at room temperature. I have been told that having the food served at this temperature is the norm.

For a foreigner, I think eating at a padang restaurant is more the experience rather than for the food itself. I am sure that the food would be much more appealing if served hot.

Gado Gado Boplo – Jakarta

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Gado Gado Boplo

Gado Gado Boplo is a chain of restaurants, specializing in Gado Gado, as the name would suggest.

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Gado Gado

Gado Gado is a salad composed of slightly cooked and wilted vegetables, tofu, hard boiled eggs, longtong (rice cooked in banana leafs) topped with a dressing made out of peanuts. The salad is usually topped with emping, a cracker made out of melinjo nuts. The emping crackers are crispy, and slightly bitter. The gado gado also contained green beans.

The salad was drenched in the peanut sauce dressing, which was on the sweeter side. The dressing is made with a sweet soy sauce, adding boatloads of sugar. The emping chips added a nice bitterness to counteract the sweetness of the dressing.

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Satay

The pork satay came 10 to an order. The pork was tender and did not contain a lot of fat. The size of the satay was a lot smaller than what I am used to. The peanut sauce was similar to the dressing on the gado gado salad, so on the sweeter side.

Boplo Gado Gado seems to be a fairly popular chain restaurant. Was this the best versions of these dishes that I’ve ever had? No, but they were slightly better than average.

Indonesian Restaurant 1968 – Hong Kong

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Surabaya

Indonesian Restaurant 1968, a Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand recipient, specializes in Indonesian food as the name suggest. Specifically, food associated from Surabaya, as the owners are from that island.

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Interior

The restaurant is decorated very casually, like you are invited into somebody’s house/living room. Plush couches adorn one side of the table, while comfortable chairs adorn the other.

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Decoration
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Decoration

Indonesian knick knacks adorn the walls.

I came at the very end of lunch service, so the restaurant was mostly empty.

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Gado Gado

The Gado Gado ($78 HKD) was a modern take on the classic Indonesian salad. The salad sat on a bed of green leaf lettuce, which is not the norm. The mix of potatoes, eggs, and lettuce was drenched in an avalanche of peanut dressing. The dressing was very thick, but not too sweet.

They do have a lunch menu which includes an entrée, salad, and drink.

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Nasi Rendang
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Nasi Rendang

I got the Nasi Rendang ($128 HKD), which came on an oblong platter. The rendang was tender with just a hint of heat. The rendang was flavorful, but like every other time I’ve ordered rendang, the portion was on the smaller side. It was served with rice, and vegetables.

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Salad

At first, I thought the “salad” was just a bowl of sambal, chili sauce, on a bed or lettuce. It wasn’t until I spotted a couple pieces of chicken that I realized that this was the salad that came as part of the lunch. Although it looked on the intimidating side, the “sambal” was actually not that hot. The salad was actually pretty taste.

Overall, the food was pretty good. Service was on the spotty to poor side however. I am not sure if that was due to it being the end of lunch service, and the staff was ready to take their lunch break, or if service is always this way.

I’m not sure if Indonesian Restaurant 1968 is capable of stepping up their game enough to eventually garner one Michelin star, but service would need to drastically improve.

Michelin Guide – Yan Ling – Hong Kong

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Yan Ling

Yan Ling was recently named to the coveted Michelin Recommended Street Food Guide for Hong Kong. This is a small street stall that does Indonesian food, mainly satay.

It is located directly across the street from the Kowloon City Plaza mall. The stall looks a little dilapidated from the exterior.

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Menu
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Menu

Most of the items on the menu were apparently either sold out or not on the menu anymore; it was hard to tell, but I think the menu has been really pared down to concentrate on satay and grilled chicken.

I wasn’t very hungry when I came here, but did want to try a couple of things since it is in the Michelin Guide.

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Grill

The chicken satay was not marinated before grilling, which is unusual. The beef satay was basted in a slightly sweet marinade. The beef tasted kind of “dry” like it had been sitting out before grilling to concentrate the beef flavor, much like beef jerky or pipikaula in Hawaii.

Instead of the usual peanut sauce that accompanies satay, I chose the spicy sauce (sambal).

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Satay

The chicken was tender and juicy. It was kind of overpowered by the sambal, not because of the heat, but the addition of fish sauce to the sambal.

The beef was on the “dry” side but did have really good flavor. The sweet marinade counter balanced the fish sauce of the sambal.

The chicken satay was nothing special, but the beef was excellent because of the concentrated flavor. In retrospect, I wish I would have also tried the peanut sauce for comparison.

Warung Spang Makandra – Amsterdam

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Warung Spang Makandra

Warung Spang Makandra is one of the many Indonesian restaurants in Amsterdam. As Indonesia was colonized by the Dutch, there is a big Dutch influence in Indonesian culture and vice versa.

The restaurant states that it opens at 11:00 AM, but when I went there shortly thereafter, the only people working were the cooks. I was told to come back later since nobody else was there. Upon my return around 11:45 AM, there was actually front of the house staff working.

The restaurant is on the smaller side, and has a decidedly Indonesian décor. They do have menus in English, and the staff also speaks English in addition to Indonesian and Dutch.

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Spang Makandra Special

I opted for the Spang Makandra Special (€10) which included fried rice, noodles, chicken filet, chicken satay, fried egg, potato sambal, and Javanese frikandel (potato). There was another combination plate that came with ayam pedis (spicy chicken filet), and I asked if I could substitute that for the regular chicken filet and they were happy to oblige.

The spicy chicken was very tender and moist. Although the sambal looks somewhat imposing it was not all that spicy. The chicken satay was cooked nicely, and the peanut sauce was on the sweeter side. I was somewhat disappointed as the peanut sauce was cold which detracted from the dish. The fried rice had nice crispy shallots throughout which added an extra layer of flavor and a crunchy aspect. The Javenese frikandel was like a solid mashed potato ball. It was cooked well and very good.

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Madame Jeanette

Extra condiments were also placed on the table. I tried some green looking chili, which ended up being wonderful, and was actually pretty hot. I had never seen this before, and asked the server. He said that the sambal was called Madam Jeanette, which is a type of pepper from Surinam.

The food here was very good, and I thought it was an excellent value. I would not hesitate to come here again in the future.

Dancing Fish- Kuala Lumpur

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Dancing Fish

Dancing Fish is located in Bangsar section of Kuala Lumpur, and is located on the third floor of the Bangsar Shopping Centre.

The restaurant has a modern décor, with a tranquil almost spa like feel.

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Emping
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Sambal

The meal started off with Emping and was served with Sambal Terasi. The chips are made out of melinjo nuts, which are quite bitter. The sambal somewhat offsets the bitterness. Although sambal is generally known as being spicy, I have found that most have a sweeter quality that tends to overpower any heat associated with it, and this sambal was no different.

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Tahu Telur

The Tahu Telur is a tower of tofu and flossy egg mixture. The end result is interesting. Crunchy on the outside with large chunks of soft tofu inside. I could not distinguish any distinct egg flavor. The dish is served with a somewhat sweet sauce.

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Dancing Fish (Nila Goreng)

The Dancing Fish (Nila Goreng) is their signature dish. It certainly looks imposing. This is a skinned fish that has been fileted off of the bone then deep fried. The end result is a crispy fish with a dragon-like appearance. The dish certainly gets a lot of attention, but it seems like too much of the fish has to be removed in order for it to get this appearance. This results in much less fish, and most of it ends up like hard fish jerky or croutons and is almost inedible. I don’t think sacrificing all of that good fish is worth the end product.

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Rendang

The Rendang is a beef curry dish cooked in coconut milk and spices. Although this is said to be a spicy hot dish, almost all versions that I have had have not been very spicy. This version was no different despite the addition of chili’s on top of the dish. Despite the lack of heat, this was still a good dish.

I can see why Dancing Fish has gotten a lot of attention. The décor is somewhat upscale and trendy, and it attracts that kind of crowd. The food is pretty solid. Although the “dancing fish” is Instagram worthy, to me it was more style over substance. I’d rather give up the “food porn” shot to get more quantity of fish that is tender.