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Apr 16, 2012 10:13 AM

Indonesian bazaars, Masjid al-Hikmah, 2012

Two Indonesian friends tell me that the first of these events, held periodically during the warmer months, will be on Sunday, April 22, at Masjid al-Hikmah, 48-01 31st Ave. (at 48th St.), Astoria, Queens. The best time to arrive, I believe, is between 11:00 and 12:00, when more of the food will be freshly prepared, the crowds will not have piled in, and the blacktop -- the bazaar is held on the parking lot behind the mosque -- will not be broiling hot. Slideshow:

Dave Cook

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  1. Great news - much appreciated Dave!

    1. Are there any dishes in particular you'd recommend? I went last year and tried gado-gado, sate and a combination plate (I think it was rendang) and wasn't enthusiastic, though perhaps certain vendors are better than others.

      1 Reply
      1. re: JungMann

        Just my opinion, but I've never had any sate there that I thought was particularly distinguished. In Indonesia, there's a much wider variety of meats available (organs of various kinds, for ex., which are my favorite). The meats they use here are kind of bland.

        The gado-gado at the long table in the back is, on the other hand, very reliable, and quite good; the sauce is prepared fresh for each order. Tell them if you want it spicy (or nothet).

        Many of the vendors move around, so it's not really possible to recommend a particular table, and the dishes also vary from month to month and many of the vendors make the same things, so that it looks like there's a theme for each month. But some things are constant. The "es cendol" (cold drink based on coconut milk sweetened with palm sugar , with green things that look like worms, but they're not, they're made of rice flour) at the table on the left about 3 tables from the back is always popular (and may have a long line). A table or two in back of that, there's usually "bakso," (soup w/meat balls) that's the best in the bazaar. On the right side, I think two, maybe three, tables from the front (next to the door), there's a rather wide variety of stuff that quite good: rujak (fruit salad), anchovies + peanuts, lots of stuff.

        But the physical setup may be different this year - I''ll be meeting with some of the ladies this Wed. evening; will try to find out more information.

      2. Yes,thanks also for this posting!

        I seem to recall previous years postings were 24hr or so after the event - useful only for stomach cramps.

        1. Oh, I spoke to one of the ladies last night, and she just said that they'd be making "the usual." So, no useful information there. Also, the weather report is unfavorable, calling for rain. It does rain in Indonesia, but this bit of authenticity is rather unwelcome.

          1. anyone know if this still goes on if it's supposed to be raining all day?

            6 Replies
            1. re: foodisgood17

              Yes - it's happening. Just loaded up up and headed home to enjoy it.

              1. re: foodisgood17

                Yup ... I'm there now. attendance is a little sparse but the vendors are there.

                1. re: foodisgood17

                  so i went and it does. rode my bike there and back from brooklyn in the rain and it was so worth it. oh man that cendol. i'll be going next month, hopefully not soaking wet.

                  1. re: foodisgood17

                    Yeah, I think some of the vendors stayed away because of the rain. But there was some great stuff today.

                    These photos were taken at home afterwards -- it was far to rainy to snap photos at the bazaar itself:

                    But that means we didn't get photos of quite a few of the great things we tried (mainly the stuff we polished off before leaving), including:

                    *Coconut-y rice porridge with a sweet suace -- maybe brown sugar-based?

                    *Siomay ("shoo mee") -- boiled egg, steamed tofu, and steamed fish balls wrapped in what looked like wonton wrappers and doused in a thick, sweet-and-savory peanut sauce

                    *Hunks of tofu and bits of cabbage, breaded and deep-fried -- nice but nothing special (good vegetarian option


                    *Homemade tempeh -- you could still see the whole soy beans...nice!

                    *Kale sauteed in garlic and coconut milk -- this was amazing; still crunchy kale and very flavorful!

                    *Beef jerky doused in a spicy sambol-based (?) red sauce -- I didn't try this but others were raving about it

                    *Sweet glutinous rice probably cooked with brown sugar -- nice; mildly sweet

                    There were also some REALLY good looking SOUPS with meatballs and rice noodles -- unfortunately none were vegetarian, so we didn't get to try them.

                    The SATAY SKEWERS also looked great -- many were served over rice cakes with what looked like a thick, sambol-and-coconut-milk-based sauce.

                    And there were some really delicate baked, egg-washed COOKIES on offer at one stand. (I overheard mentions of pineapple fillings; others were coated with powdered sugar and resembled Italian cookies.)

                    My personal favorites were the GADO GADO (incredibly fresh veggies; addictive dark/spicy peanut sauce) and the CENDOL (pandan water + brown sugar water + coconut milk dessert).

                    We'll definitely be back next month for further explorations -- hopefully without the pouring rain.

                    1. re: CitySpoonful

                      Hey City, I told you that Gado Gado was awesome. I'm glad they were there yesterday for you. The last time I was at the bazaar the women making the gado gado weren't there. If the weather is better for the next one, I'll definitely be there, specifically for the gado gado.

                      1. re: el jefe

                        El Jefe, you totally called it. That gado gado was 100 times better than what I had at Upi Jaya (maybe I caught them on a bad day?). So fresh! And the peanut sauce was totally addictive -- spicy, salty, funky. I had one there and took one home with me. :)

                        If you're going next time, let me know. We could meet there. You know Indonesian food much better than I do -- would be curious to get your take on the offerings.