- Gary Cheong
Finally tried the new Indonesian on East 4th St, near First Ave.
While not as awesome as the lady who cooks at the Indonesian Consulate, what I had was quite good. I was told that the chef used to cook at Nusantara (an Indonesian restaurant in midtown that was always empty).
I liked the rendang padang best. It was in a delicate sauce, as opposed to the rendang from Nyonya which packs a punch. Even though I love the Nyonya version, a change of pace is good.
The apps I tried were the martabak and the gado gado. Nice peanut sauce on the gado gado, and $5.50 gets you quite a lot. The lontong (pressed rice cubes) that came with it however was nuked in a microwave. The martabak could use some curry dipping sauce to go with it.
Bakmi goreng was ok, nothing special.
Will definitely return to try the rest of the menu. The fish dishes looked interesting.
Michael, have you tried it yet?
No, Gary, I haven't tried it yet. I had thought it was, perhaps, on 3rd between 1st and 2nd (didn't recheck chowhound.com before leaving), walked the block, and decided to go back to Frutti di Mare for the pasta fra diavolo that evening (I wanted something spicy).
It sounds like this is definitely a place to try, but I have a question for you: Was any of the food really spicy like most real Indonesian food? I have to wonder about the authenticity of a mild rendang. Most rendang recipes I've seen call for plenty of hot peppers.
Besides the rendang, the other things I tried were not supposed to be spicy. I've had mild rendang before. This mild one here was a "good" mild (I'm not sure if they deliberately tried to make it so for the gringos)
Next time, I'll make sure to ask for things spicier. They also provide sambal oelek and sambal belacan to spice things up. But seeing that they included a pub food menu, maybe they are afraid that people will not like the real stuff.
I think that they would make us the real stuff if we asked.
Had lunch there today; granted, didn't try much (and the menu has some interesting things) but it was pretty awful; an Indonesian lamb curry which was just mediocre (and MILD) jarred curry paste in coconut milk, with gristly meatless lamb chunks on the bone (the server explained, AFTER we'd eaten & gotten the check [$9 for the dish, at lunch], that he was sorry it had to be served like that, something about having to cut it with a saw to be kosher, but it wouldn't be like that in the future...! his voice was too soft to understand)...and my lunch partner got the lunch special (no choice, just the 'lunch special'), which was a bunch of little dishes around rice for $6--a dry flavorless corn fritter, a chunk of chicken in a yellow curry, the carrot/chili salad thing, a couple other forgettable items...I suppose a mini-rijsttafel idea but depressing.
Prices might not sound steep but note that it's essentially a fast-food lunch-counter idea. Also, while I'm sure we were giving off a heavy gringo vibe (no sambal in sight), the food was obviously not made to order (at least not the lunch special dishes) so that's not an issue. (He was out of the rendang because "there was a big order last night" so maybe that's a good sign.)
Sorry you had a disappointing lunch there. I was almost going to order that lamb dish but now I'm glad I didn't. I think the restaurant is struggling to decide what it wants to be. Do the real stuff, or cater to gringos. Would love to see it throw out that ridiculous pub food menu for a start.
Next time, I will tell them I want the real stuff and to make things spicy ahead of time.