HOME > Chowhound > Outer Boroughs >


Real Indonesian ?

  • h

Anyone know a good REAL indonesian place? NOT Malaysian NOT a mixed asian menu? and not borobudur.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I've never been but Upi Jaya Restaurant at 76-04 Woodside Ave, Elmhurst was favorably reviewed on chowhound many months ago. I have friends who went and they enjoyed the food.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Mike V
      Astoria Lurker

      There was a recent Times article about a sort of fued between two Indonesian in Elmhurst.

      Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/05/nyr...

    2. Both Upi Jaya and Minanglasi are excellent. The menu is a bit more extensive at Minangasli, but the atmosphere is more pleasant at Upi Jaya. Both places are authentic and are patronized largely by nationals. There is also a third Indonesian restaurant on Whitney Ave. that I haven't tried.

      Upi Jaya
      76-04 Woodside Ave.

      86-10 Whitney Ave.
      718 429-8207

      1 Reply
      1. re: Suzanne

        I've been to Upi Jaya three times and enjoyed each visit very much. The owners are sweet people who go out of their way to make you happy, and that's not hard, because the food is outstanding. I love the modest ambience too, almost like being in their home.

      2. I recently went to Upi again after being dissatisfied the first time with their Rendang months before. Nothing has changed, only the Rendang is more dry that the previous time. They serve small portions for slightly above average food and charge you way too much for Indonesian. I went there thinking that the first time was just a fluke since there are so many good positive reviews here. I was also unhappy with the service since I specifically asked her if the rendang was moist and juicy and was told it was. It came out like beef jerky. Then the lady told me that another dish would be moist and juicy and told me to try that instead. My husband and I didn't touch the rendang since it was very tough and waited for the other beef dish. I don't even remember what the dish was called, but all I can say that this one was worse. It seemed that the owners just nuked it after it was frozen for months. That’s how it tasted like. It was obvious my hubby and I were not happy with this one also and guess what, we got charged for both beef dishes. Charged for two beef dishes that we barely touched and she recommended both of them. I then told the lady that I was not going to pay for both and to be honest she seemed deceptive. Like she was trying to see if I wouldn't say anything about the two dishes on the check, she wasn’t surprised nor insulted rather like she was waiting for me to say something. I don't know about you but is somebody recommends a dish and is obvious that the person is unhappy with the dish, the courteous thing to do is take that first one off the check at least, especially so if it wasn't even touched besides the first bite.

        I would never go back even though their gado gado is yummy. If you are wondering about our knowledge about Indo food, hubby is part and grew up eating it all his life. Minanglasi has better service and the price is more inline with the cuisine unless it super swank.

        1 Reply
        1. re: kittyslair

          I think they have the best Sumatran Authentic Rendang in New York.
          The sumatran rendang is dry, and it takes a lot of work to make it dry like that.
          I lived in Indonesia for 30 years, Upi Jaya is the best Authentic Indonesian restaurant in NY. I admid that they don't have good service, but the food is so incredible delicious. You can't find any Indonesian Restaurant like Upi Jaya.
          The second one is Minang Jaya, they have a good service.
          But Bali Nusa Indah, they are not good for Indonesian food. They mixed it with Western taste.

        2. the only real indonesian food that was similar to what i had in bali was a restaurant in hell's kitchen, the name of the place slips my mind right now. it was great and also recommended by indonesian friends.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Linda

            You must be thinking of Bali Nusa Indah, which is pretty good.

            I had good food in Bali too, but food as prepared in Bali is different than Javanese & Padang, and I think the places in Queens are reputed to be more authentic along those lines (I haven't tried them yet).

            The real great thing about eating in Bali is that Balinese Hindus love pork.


          2. I find Bali Nusah Indah to be quite bland. My favorite Indonesian restaurants are Minangasli and Mie Jakarta on Whitney Ave in Elmhurst, followed by Upi Jaya.

            1. I agree with you that those are the top three. I think I like Mie Jakarta best, then Minangasli, then Upi Jaya. Whitney Ave is becoming a Little Indonesia. There are now 3 or 4 places there.

              1 Reply
              1. re: JMF

                Havent been to Mie Jakarta but I concur about the others. Both are run by people from Padang, Sumatra, whose cuisine is famous throughout the archipelago, though I believe (but could be wrong) that they have Javanese dishes on the menu as well, since that's where many of their patrons are from. The people from Padang are Minangkabau, for more info see
                http://www.peopleteams.org/minang/. (click on links at bottom of that page)

              2. thanks for those indonesian recommendations; look forward to trying them. i miss bali and i miss the food terribly!

                1. Upi Jaya vs Minang Asli
                  This is a tough one, love both, Upi Jaya being the pioneer has a more authentic Padang style taste (although i have to agree w/ Kittyslair that Upi's rendang's a lil bit tough), I've found myself to venture out more to Whitney Ave, where Minang Asli is, why?

                  1. MA's more accessible
                  2. a wider selection (MA serves some other non Padang style food in their appetizer's section
                  note: make sure to check out their specials, it's usually posted by cashier; also, try
                  to check out their snacks and desserts, also by the cashier
                  3. much better service

                  One con's about MA, is that a few times I was there, food gets a lil bit salty, which can be easily counterbalance with more rice.

                  Now, Mie Jakarta serves an entirely different type of foods, they're known for
                  Jakarta's style chicken noodle (re: not your average flu fighting chicken noodle, this is much much more delicious). their chicken noodle comes with sides of soup, steamed greens, fried wontons.

                  Besides noodle AND if you think you can handle spicy food, try their Ayam Rica Rica
                  , this is Manado style (another part of Indonesia, where majority of their foods are spicy enough to make you shed tears and runny nose, yet exquisite) Ayam Rica is fried chicken (Ayam = chicken), topped with Manado style fresh cooked chillies, oil, and garlic, if you can take it, this is a really good dish to have.


                  7 Replies
                  1. re: jlean22

                    They also make a tofu appetizer stuffed with veggies and very spicy. It's delicious and better than the version at Minangasli.

                    One of the dishes I love at Minangasli is the Udang Petai Belado, which is shrimp and stinky beans in a hot chili sauce. The bean (sometimes called sator) is not really that stinky but instead has a strong, delicious flavor. The dish is quite spicy but you can enjoy without it completely killing you, and the plump shrimp provide some cooling power. It's number 25 on the menu:

                    Here are some pictures from Mie Jakarta. Mie Ayam (chicken noodle soup):
                    Jus Alpokat (avocado shake w/ chocolate):

                    1. re: Peter Cuce

                      There are some interesting-looking offal dishes on the menu. Have you tried any?

                      1. re: Pan

                        I've had the Gulai Otak (brain). They do a great job with it.

                    2. re: jlean22

                      "Upi's rendang's a lil bit tough" Yes. I've never had a beef rendang that wasn't dry and tough, and I've sampled that dish at about 10 Indonesian and Malaysian restaurants in NYC. I once had a dog rendang which, though stringy, was fairly tender, in a village in central Sulawesi. By the way, at Upi, the over rice dishes are better value.

                      1. re: Brian S

                        there are two types of rendang. I prefer the one that is moist and not dry, hence why I asked the server about the type of rendang she served. The one that is dry can last longer, upwards to 3 months. If you haven't had the moist one, you need to be on the look out for it. It is yummy.

                        1. re: kittyslair

                          I had the rendang at Mie Jakarta yesterday; it was significantly more moist than Upi Jaya. Everything I had there was excellent, but it's really a small operation serving simple, snacky dishes and soups. I need to return to try the fried chicken and the avocado shake.

                          I like Upi Jaya, as well, and their amazingly dry, but flavorful, rendang.

                          1. re: kittyslair

                            FYI, rendang from Padang are supposed to be tough, it's cooked for hours. In Padang, they cook it for the entire day or sometimes more to make sure all the spices are fully emmersed inside the meat, and the rendang are considered cooked when the meat's tenderness is about 70-80% close to jerky like.

                            Tender rendangs are not authentic Padang, I guess historically there's no refrigiration back in the old days, people utilize the spices to make sure food can be kept for a long time in a hot weather.

                            Secondly, high flavorful meat cubes can be used to feed more stomach, you only need a small chunk of meat with the super condense spicy gravy over rice to satisfy one grown man's palate.

                            I know because I'm from there.

                      2. Peter: you keep posting that link to the avocado shake with chocolate. I can hear it calling my name...

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: wrayb

                          It's so good. Last time I went I had two!

                        2. Java Indonesian Rijsttafel on 7th Ave and 16th st. in south Park Slope used to be wonderful. It's a cozy spot run by a very sweet Indonesian lady who does much of the cooking and table service herself. For years the food was wonderful, highly flavorful and very inexpensive (excellent corn/shrimp fritters, satay, fish dishes, pleasantly spicy sauces).

                          Last time, the service was still warm, but I was mostly unimpressed by the food... considerably blander, with tougher, cheaper cuts meat and shrimp than I remember in the past.

                          I'm wondering if my last visit was an aberration or if the restaurant has declined in the past 5 years.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Yaqo Homo

                            I never thought the food was wonderful on any of my visits over the years, merely acceptable.

                          2. I've never had Indonesian food, but would love to try it. What has been holding me back is that we're vegetarian (we do eat fish, though), and I always assumed that there wouldn't be very many options; however, looking at Upi Jaya and Minangasli's menus online, it looks like they have quite a few veg and fish dishes. Does anyone recommend anything in particular at either of these two places? Thanks!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: bennyt

                              I recently had the Gado Gado, a vegetarian dish, at Minang Asli, and liked it very much. At 6 bucks, it is a bargain as well. Have yet to try Mie Jakarta's or Upi Jaya's version; perhaps others can weigh in on this here.

                              Menus for Minang Asli and Upi Jaya are both available on this page:

                              Enjoy. P.

                              1. re: bennyt

                                I'm vegetarian and I went to Upi Jaya today and had a great meal, no, a feast. I've "lived" in Bali for 2 months, so I know some of the range of the food. I had no problem finding enough to eat: Krupuk Bawang (onion crackers, instead of the more standard Krupuk Udang shrimp crackers), Nasi Goreng (delicious fried rice, can be just veg), Gado Gado of course (steamed veggies with peanut sauce on top), Tofu marinated in chilis, Curried Jakfruit (used unripe, it makes a nice meat substitute), and curried kale in coconut sauce with a banana leaf sticky rice dish for dessert and a Es Campur (mixed ice with fruits and "jellies") as a filling beverage. All were delicious and brought me back to Indonesia. The service was a bit slow yes, and they were out of several things we asked for, but still well worth it.

                                If you're interested, there seems to be this cool culinary tour of Bali in July to learn more about their food: http://www.nadabrahma.org/Tour2008.html
                                and I've heard there may be some cooking demos in NYC leading up to it.

                              2. While juicy gossip is always fun to read, it might be better to just say, "I heard recently that the operations at Upi Jaya have gone way downhill," and leave it at that ...

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: racer x

                                  sympathy for a personal tragedy is in order though -

                                  unfortunately, I dont think there is much there for a vegetarian - when I went to Upi Jaya with my veg daughter, the beancurd dishes were minimal and expensive - the gado gado was good tho and they did have a good vegetable dish - Im blanking on it however.

                                  1. re: jen kalb

                                    i had some stuffed fried tofu thing at upi jaya that i liked quite a bit. i don't remember if it was 100% vegetarian though.

                                    sad if they are having problems...

                                    1. re: babar ganesh

                                      maybe they do it better sometimes - when we had it, the only stuffing was a few beansprouts and the only sauce was commercial sweet chili sauce. It wasnt cheap, either.

                                2. We ended up at Minan Gasli. We had a fantastic all veg and fish meal (as per our dietary restrictions). We started out with the siomay bandung (steamed fishcake, baked egg, and little crispy dough things in chili-peanut sauce) - delicious. For entrees we had sayur nangka (jackfruit curry-type dish) and a fried whole red snapper in a spicy sauce (tamarind, chili peppers, cucumber, some kind of soy sauce, I think). Both were outstanding. We enjoyed the latter much more than we do the whole fish dishes at Sripraphai (not that Thai and Indonedian cuisines should necessarily be compared, but Sripraphai was our gold standard for Asian whole fish dishes, until now). Everything was cooked perfectly, well-spiced, and unique (we'd never had Indonesian food before). There were a vew other veg dishes on the menu as well as half a dozen or so other fish options, so we can definitely go back and have an all veg/fish feast with totally different dishes. Which we will do, ASAP. One more thing - the servers were very gracious, as was Nani (the owner), who greeted us personally.

                                  1. My second trip to Minang Asli yielded a fantastic bowl of Soto Ayam, chicken soup with white noodles and bean sprouts. Although I cannot attest to its' authenticity, the broth had a uniqueness, tang and kick, although not too much heat. Chunks of what seemed like roasted chicken floated amongst copious clear noodles speckled here and there with sprouts, making for a plentiful bowl. I would definitely come back on chilly winter's night for this or the excellent fried chicken as well. Finished up with an Avocado Shake topped with melted chocolate sauce. Sweet, thick and yummy. Extra points for the spare charm of the place and the gracious, down-to-earth service. The owner introduced herself to me as Nani - she seems to take a special interest in everyone who comes in.

                                    I had originally intended to hit Mie Jakarta, a few storefronts away, but it was closed. Perhaps, and I'm hoping, this is just a Wednesday thing.