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Asian Taste 86 in Elmhurst--Mostly Indonesian

  • p

I haven't posted on here in a long time, but the name of this restaurant made me want to call attention to it here on Chowhound because it is so unspecific and my food was so good.

A name like Asian Taste 86 would usually bring to mind to a horrendous pan-Asian restaurant in Chelsea serving sushi, Chinese food, and Thai dishes. But that wouldn't happen on Whitney Avenue in Elmhurst.

I was looking for Mi Jakarta, but it was closed, so I popped my head into this new place and saw that they sold juice boxes of iced tea, which to me is a sure sign that it's Indonesian. So I ordered spicy smashed fried chicken.

I've had this dish before somewhere else, but this version was really excellent. It was so tender it was served without a knife, and the sambal on top was indeed very spicy. The skin was the best part, I don't know what they coated it with but I could have eaten a whole plate of it.

I'm curious about the rest of the menu, which is kind of small and has the usual beef rendang, satay, nasi goreng and gado gado on it among other things.

The owner seemed proud of the kitchen, telling me that they broil the chicken a long time--I wonder if it's some kind of confit type situation. But she seemed worried about the lack of customers. I mean, calling a restaurant Asian Taste in Elmhurst is like naming your restaurant "Food" or "Place to Eat".

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Asian Taste 86
86-10 Whitney Ave, Queens, NY 11373

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    1. Thanks for this post.

      Note: These guys took over the Minang Asli storefront. Not sure when that happened. It had to be pretty recently, as I'm in this neighborhood pretty much weekly.

      Grabbed a take-out menu today, which is limited, at this point, to about 20 items. Yes, it's at least two thirds Indonesian. Also featured is yaki udon, (spicy) chicken teriyaki, Vietnamese summer roll and seaweed salad. They also refer to their dumplings as "shumai." So it looks like they're trying, to an extent, to live up to the name.

      One item that grabbed my attention was the Soto Daging Special - a house beef soup with tendon, tripe and egg. Sounds good, as does that Smashed Fried Chicken.

      P.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Polecat

        Stopped in today after an early lunch nearby. The lady I spoke with said they'd been open two weeks, but except to confirm that they had no connection with Minang Asli, she didn't seem to want to discuss that earlier business.

        If one Indonesian-owned restaurant disappears, it's nice that another takes its place, albeit with a limited menu. Perhaps with the encouragement of customers -- a large family party entered just as I left -- they'll expand on the bill of fare.

         
      2. Came here today for a solo lunch.

        I had always found Minang Asli to be okay, though nothing spectacular. As I recall, they went through at least one renovation and a closing or two. On my last few visits, well over a year ago, I recall that, for some inexplicable reason, they had arranged the seating in a very awkward way and had also - I'm guessing to save money - kept the overhead lights off.

        With Asian Taste 86, the space got its' mojo back. The place was filled up with happy-seeming locals and the waitstaff was enthusiastic, friendly and eager to please. So, it seemed, was the kitchen staff.

        I had the Soto Daging special, a soup anchored by a wonderful, meaty beef broth and including tender and fatty chunks of tripe and tendon, as well as a perfectly hard-boiled, firm and halved egg, with some white rice on the side, a wedge of lime and a day-glo orange peppery hot sauce that goes right for the throat. Just a smidgen is enough of this stuff; the broth stands on its' own. At first, the portion seemed a little small to me but looks can be deceiving. Especially with the rice, this was a filling lunch-for-one. My dish and a Teh Kotak ran me just under ten bucks, which is more than fair.

        Other diners seemed to be going more for the fried fare, mostly chicken, gado gado or noodles. There are four or five black board specials and desserts as well.

        This is a good time to give this place a try. The vibe I got was a pleasant and enthusiastic one - sort of like Minang Asli used to be in the old days - and today's dish beat anything I ever had at Minang Asli, to be honest. I also think the small menu is a potential plus - they're sticking to a few solid items.

        P.

        4 Replies
          1. re: AubWah

            Yes, as I generally do unless there's a tarantula in my soup. That only happened once, though.

            1. re: Polecat

              I'm wondering what I should try first. Smashed fried chicken, Nasi lemak,,soup..? I'm getting so worked up about it

              1. re: AubWah

                Hey man, I know how you feel but just follow your craving/taste/desire when you get there and then, no matter what happens, don't look back. It will all be alright. For me, soup was the easy choice because of the weather - it was 20 degrees outside. I knew it would be either what I had or the mixed meatball soup. In the end, though, it was hard to say "no" to the tendon.
                P.

        1. I would love to see a photo of the smashed fried chicken, if someone happens to go between now and Friday, when I intend to go and try it for myself.

          10 Replies
          1. re: ForestHillsFresser

            FYI- Yelp has all the menu photos uploaded, including the smashed chicken.
            P.

            1. re: Polecat

              Thanks. Looks yummy. Can't wait for Friday night!

                1. re: AubWah

                  I stopped on my way home tonight and took a couple of dishes to go.

                  Fried Rice 86 - nasi goreng jawa
                  This was one of the best fried rice dishes I've ever had. I asked for it "spicy" and they obliged. My wife is from the Philippines and she's traveled extensively throughout S.E. Asia. She loves Indonesian food and she thought this was oustanding.

                  Smashed Fried Chicken - ayam penyet
                  It wasn't really fried chicken as you might expect. It wasn't battered. It was very tender, almost like it had been braised for a bit, but not too soft. Very very flavorful and also spicy. It was coated with a brown mixture of spices that gave it a nice kick.

                  My wife wants to go back. So do I.

                  1. re: ForestHillsFresser

                    I'm with you on the fried rice. Tried it today and loved it. Spooning it into the fish crackers was a singular pleasure. The pickled cucumbers on the side were also nice touch - good pallette cleanser.

                    What are the chances that two guys from Forest Hills like Nasi Goreng? It's time to take Austin Street by storm and open up a joint like this on the main drag.

                    Or at least an authentic kopitiam....

                    p.

                    1. re: Polecat

                      Judging from the faces on the train at 67th Ave in the morning, I think it will not be long before you don't have to leave Forest Hills to get good Asian cuisines. It hasn't really even started yet, but I will bet that in 10 years, things will look much less Russian.

                    2. re: ForestHillsFresser

                      Have been here a few times and while the food was mostly fine and the people particularly nice, I can't really say it was anything at all out of the ordinary. Smashed catfish and smashed chicken each was somewhat tasty if uninteresting; nasi goreng nice,simple; beef rendang dry and tough (fairly typical I know but not inevitably the case); chicken satay excellent; coconut cake outstanding (green tea version also delicious). Forget what else we had...but that's my point I guess. Am happy to return but would not go at all out of my way. Hope they survive as we can always use more Indonesian options. However I would give Mie Jakarta and Java Village the edge (though the latter seems to have slipped a bit of late). Not a big fan of Upi Jaya. Sigh.

                      1. re: burton

                        Why don't you like Upi Jaya? It's my fave of the bunch.

                      2. re: ForestHillsFresser

                        But the consistency of the ayam penyet wasn't like rendang daging, hey?

                  2. re: Polecat

                    But you didn't post the picture of the tarantula in your soup...? ;)