Indonesia - Rijsttafel on a plate at Hotel Tugu
Melati is perhaps the classiest restaurant in the classiest hotel in Malang, a pleasant Dutch-colonial highland town 2 hours' drive south of Surabaya.
I tried the Tugu Rijsttafel which consisted of sweet tempe (soybean cake), fried grated coconut flavored with chilli, turmeric & sugar/salt, shredded spiced beef (serondeng), potato fritters, marinated dried curried beef, sweet-spicy free-range chicken, turmeric-tinged cucumber/carrot/onion pickles, sweet banana fritter, boiled longbeans with spicy sambal dip, a crispy paper-thin ground-nut cracker, and banana leaf-wrapped steamed white rice. The various flavors and textures, all packed into one plate (which was quite large, by the way) certainly provided a fascinating journey of discovery for my taste-buds.
If you think the above meal-on-a-plate was a mouthful, so to speak, there are other equally complicated combinations available from their long, elaborate menu which included Babah (Indonesian-Chinese), Dutch, Chinese and Indonesian options.
Another interesting option would be the Nasi Kuning Komplit platter, which consisted of yellow turmeric-tinged coconut-scented rice served wrapped in a banana leaf for added fragrance. The accompaniments included free-range chicken cooked in Javanese spices, shredded dried beef, flavored grated coconut shreds, hard-boiled egg, stir-fried spicy tempe (soybean cake) with vegetables, and a peanut cracker. It's guaranteed to satisfy any diner who's looking for an all-in-one meal.
An interesting very local/East Javanese a la carte item on the menu must be the Rujak Cingur: a spicy salad of longbeans, cabbage, tofu, tempe, compressed rice cakes, pineappple, starfruit (carambola), cucumber, rose apple (jambu air), boiled gelatinous cow's nose (yes, you heard me right), all covered in a dark-brown fermented shrimp sauce-flavored sauce, topped with flower-shaped rice crackers. It's absolutely delicious!
The beautiful setting amidst the green foliage next to the hotel's swimming pool was gorgeous.
Hotel Tugu Malang
Jalan Tugu No. 3
Malang, East Java
Back in Hotel Tugu Malang for dinner - the evening atmosphere was just as nice. Some dishes tried:
- the colonial Dutch-inspired Erwtensoep from the Hollandsche Babah (traditional Dutch-Indonesian fusion) section of the menu. Adapted from Dutch green pea soup, the Dutch Babah version tasted absolutely fabulous - green peas, celery, parsley, shredded chicken & sausages;
- Loenpia goreng, crisp-fried spring rolls filled with minced shrimp/chicken;
- Prawn & pineapple salad;
- Tahu isi, crisp-fried tofu filled with shrimps & vegetables, served with explosively spicy little green "cabe rawit" or bird's eye chillia..
- Wienerschnitzel Und, which was pan-fried breaded beef tenderloin, served with fried potato cubes, sauteed carrots & string beans. What lifted the dish was a very tasty yet subtle brown sauce;
- Nasi "Buk": steamed white rice with sides of fried chicken, "sayur lodeh" (spicy jackfruit curry), beef "serondeng" (a dry beef and toasted coconut curry), fried beef lung, tempe & sambal;
- Nasi Goreng Tugu, a very spicy house special fried rice, served with grilled beef "sates". Not memorable version. The "sates" looked rather anaemic., compared to those delicious meaty satays one gets on-board Singapore Airlines :-D
- Angsle Malang, a traditional Indonesian dessert from Malang which tasted like S'porean "bubur cha cha". Served warm, it's a sweet coconut-milk soup with bread cubes, "petulo" (Indonesian version of Malaysian "chendol" green rice noodles), "pacar Cina" (rice flour-based jelly) & glutinous rice.
Oh, that's a fried egg - they must have used a round mould to fry the egg, and they cooked it till brown on both sides & the yolk's hardened. Pity, I preferred my egg-yolks half-cooked so they'd ooze out when I eat my eggs.
The East Javanese like to deep-fry everything - chicken, fish, tofu, tempe - and they'd fry those stuff longer than we would.