So I've been asking around for good Indonesian, and I've been given The Rice Bowl and Casablanca.
The Rice Bowl looks good. It is located not too far from me on Bellaire just inside Highway 6.
Casablanca seems verrrrrrry interesting. I understand the wife is Indonesian and the husband Moroccan. (?) Most of the B4 reviews talk about the tagines, but no mention of rendang.
So, my fellow gastronomes, what do you know about either of these or any others?
Rice Bowl Chinese Restaurant
14360 Bellaire Blvd Ste 98N, Houston, TX 77083
Good morning Houston Chowhounds!
As referenced above, the effervescent Jaymes and I met at Rice Bowl II yesterday for lunch. The restaurant is located at 14360 Bellaire, just inside of Highway 6 and across Bellaire from Fiesta, (which does have hibiscus by the way).
I arrived a few minutes early and Jaymes was already at the counter chatting up the proprietress. We were offered Chinese or Indonesian menus and you know where we went with that!
The Indonesian menu had about thirty items listed without any distinction for salads, soups etc, just a numerical listing one through whatever. While at first that may seem a little unorganized, it does make you read the entire menu rather than just look for rendang sapi, (beef) and stopping. There are many many more items that looked great so I am eagerly looking forward to returning.
So what did we have?
Why rendang, of course. (C'mon, you knew that was coming.)
But first we had skewers of both beef and chicken satay. The beef was good, even great. Eight nicely charred skewers of lean beef covered in a mild thick peanut sauce. What could be better?
The chicken. The tastiest, moist white meat chicken again covered in that peanut sauce. Get that.
For entree we had the aforementioned beef rendang. Unbelievably tender. Get that.
To go with it, we had Gado Gado, an Indonesian salad with peanut dressing. Crisp and a delicious counterpoint for the rendang. Get that.
And Nasi Goreng, a fried rice with shrimp and chicken. Get that.
Does it sound like we ordered too much? Yeah, we probably did, but we only left a bit of the rice and I was wiping the sauce off the rendang plate with my finger.
Embarrassing? Wait till YOU try it.
And I want to add a hearty "thank you" to Doobs for the suggestion and the invite to join him. He looked quite dapper in his tropical shirt, he's the most delightful luncheon companion one could ever ask for, and the food was just wonderful, so it all made for a perfect afternoon.
The only things I'd add to his terrific description are, first, that the peanut sauce for the satay was not quite as spicy as I prefer, but when you add a little hot chile oil, it perked right up. As in many SE Asian restaurants, though, I've found that unless you look like a native of that cuisine, the hot sauces don't come automatically. You do need to ask for them.
And the other thing DW didn't mention is that there was a stack of small plastic tubs right by the cash register. The tubs held some sort of small light-colored balls. At first I thought it might be cheese, but when the family at the next table started passing one of these tubs around, and the children dove in eagerly, decided it must be a sweet. Sure enough, they're pineapple cookies - sweet dough on the outside, pineapple stuffing in the middle. The taste was somewhat reminiscent of fig newtons, but tangier, owing to the pineapple. I brought a tub home for my kids and grandkids, and it was emptied in pretty short order.
Overall, I'd say that this restaurant ain't big on ambiance, but clean, the staff warm and friendly, and the food excellent and affordable. I'll definitely be back.
Thanks again, Doobs.
How about that Hazzard's Grill on Dairy Ashford? B4 has it listed and I thought it was maybe a mistake but the reviews do mention rendang.
I've been to both Rice Bowl II and Casablanca and I'm only so-so on them. When I was at Casablanca there was no rendang or anything Indonesian, just tagines and couscous. I see one Yelper is saying they now have an Oriental menu? Indonesian = Oriental? I didn't have a good an experience as the rave reviews I've read mainly because both times my meats were actually dry, not real moist and juicy. The vegetables with the Lamb Couscous were excellent, however. If I go back I may just do a vegetable couscous if they have it.
At Rice Bowl I had Nasi Goreng Ayam Udang. Nasi Goreng is just Indonesian for fried rice, Ayam means chicken and Udang means shrimp so this was shrimp/chicken fried rice but I never found any chicken and the shrimp were real small. Overall I wasn't very impressed and hasn't gone back but it's a long way away from me. BTW, this is supposed to be the national dish of Indonesia so I think I should have been pretty impressed. Maybe I missed something.
I have a friend who has raved about it and usually I try the dish that's considered the national dish and am very impressed by it but not this time.
I also had the Lalap, a simple salad of sliced cucumbers and roma tomatoes with lettuce leaves and a sriracha-like sauce that I thing they made themselves on the side. The sauce was very good.
Thanks for the reply Bruce. I've been to Hazzard's a few times back when it was called something else. (EDITED TO ADD: It was called Yanti's.)
Even then it was more of a neighborhood bar and now I understand it is even more so.
The food was acceptable but not exceptional and seemed almost an afterthought.
I am hoping to do better, but based on the lack of responses I must assume Indonesian isn't that popular. As I have stated before elsewhere, I first tasted it at a place called Mata Hari in the Carillion Center on Westheimer at Briarpark. It was exotic and delicious and the rijstaffel with its many exotic dishes was a revelation. In doing some quick historical research, it appears that Mata Hari moved out of the Carillion and into the space now occupied by Hazzard's sometime in the early 90's. I never visited them there and they must not have stayed long. Then it became something else which I DID visit and now it's Hazzard's.
I have since eaten Indonesian in Holland in both Amsterdam and Edam and that was simply world changing.
Heck, we even have an Indonesian embassy here. There's got to be some good Indonesian in Houston and I intend to find it.
Damn. Yeah, lots of people rave about the cuisine. I guess I have an excuse to go back to Casablanca and try it there.
Here's something else - I was wondering how I could get this to information to you since I understood it was something they didn't want publicized but.....
See the second review. I don't look at Yelp very often but just happened to check it just now and there it is so there you have it. I've been wanting to go since I first heard about it but never have although one of our CH'ers has and may weigh in.
I am that "one" that Bruce mentioned that has been there. DoobieWah, I initially was also going to ask you to send me an email so I could tell you more details on the Consulate (because as Bruce said, that whole thing isn't intended to be public knowledge)... either way , I do have some things to send you via email, so send me one! Address is in my CH profile.