Indonesia - Regional classics at Pecel Solo Restaurant
This atmospheric little eatery in the royal town of Solo (Central Java) purportedly served Solo classic dishes based upon heirloom recipes. Calling itself "waroeng tempo doeloe" or old-era eatery, Pecel Solo's squarish wooden dining room had a beautiful golden glow, lit by antique Dutch lamps. Wooden teakwood furniture filled the small space, with eating counters and long benches lining the walls. Photos of almost every Indonesia media celebrity who'd dined at this famous spot filled the walls.
You get served cafeteria-style here - i.e. 2 female servers stood behind a HUGE buffet-syle table, and you simply point at the dishes which you want and they'd ladle the food onto your banana-leaf-lined lunch platter.
The food items were all attrractively displayed on wooden or rattan vessels, lined with banana leaves - there was an amazing selection of raw salads and ferns, a selection of Central Javanese curries and fried items (tofu, spring rolls, tempe), and meats (fried chicken, grilled beef, etc.)
For my lunch platter, I had a fried tofu stuffed with spices chicken & vegetables, a fried spring rolls and a tempe - unfortunately, these were all served cold, and I didn't quite get to appreciate the Javanese flavors therein. A stick of chicken intestine sate was also cold & tasteless. The curried egg fared better, but still a bit blandish compared to food at other Javanese eateries we'd tried so far.
All in all - I wished they'd re-heat all the items before serving, but some local Indonesian tourists seemed to be relishing their food.
Waroeng Pecel Solo
Jl. Dr.Soepomo No. 55
Solo, Jawa Tengah
"...but some local Indonesian tourists seemed to be relishing their food."
Did that include those caucasian-looking chaps in your third picture?
(Or was that your dining group?)
I'm curious - you do seem to have a general preference for warm or hot (temperature-wise) food. Are there some food items where you would definitely prefer them to be at room temperature? (Other than stuff clearly meant to be eaten cool/cold)
That was us in the picture, a motley bunch of bewildered foreigners - truth be told, we were a bit overwhelmed by somewhat familiar yet so different Solo food items we saw ;-) But all other diners there were locals, mostly tourists from Jakarta and other parts of Indonesia who come to Solo for its royal palace & batik shops. I actually spoke to one chap & he told me that he's from Jakarta and was there because Pecel Solo was really a destination dining spot for visitors to Solo. But I think "pecel" per se is a breakfast food, so lunching there do mean that we're having some items which had been cooked hours before, then placed on the table.
I think the local salads and one of the dried beef items were okay at room temperature, but the deep-fried items (and the Javanese are fond of deep-fried stuff!) definitely would have been so much better had they been served hot, or at least warm.
Serving at room temperature is quite the norm for some Indonesian dishes. It is quite common for Jawanese or Padang food to be displayed at room temperature, and it is not because it is "breakfast food". And yes, it is an issue especially for Chinese who are used to warm/hot temperature food.
FourSeasons, I also had the same problem when I was in Manila. The Filipino "turo-turo" food joints will display various dishes which you'd point at ("turo") as you make your food choices. ALL the dishes - baked ones like the "rellenong manok", stews like "adobo", "kare-kare" or "kalderetta", deep-fried items like "chicharon" or soupy ones like "sinigang" were inadvertently served cold, the traditional Filipino way.