Indonesia Mini Market - Indonesian Home Cooking in Central London
Credit to Limster who spotted the signage for this place outside of the mall at 57 Charing Cross Road.
On the first floor of a cluttered mall with dreary looking Brazilian and Malaysian stalls, this "restaurant" immediately sets itself apart through its clientele and setting. An ever-revolving crowd of Indonesian customers enlivens this cross between a home kitchen and a restaurant where customers sit closely packed at the establishment's three tables. They're there to slurp down excellent bowls of noodle soup and larger dishes of rice and meat at what might be London's best home style Indonesian restaurant. To paraphrase Limster, this place shows that you can still find hole-in-the-wall style gems in Central London if you look hard enough.
On both of my visits I had an Indonesian noodle and meat ball soup (bakso or mie bakso.) Despite the relatively small bowl its served in, each portion is packed with noodles and meat balls. One almost wishes that there was more room for the broth as it is absolutely perfect; clear, but packed with flavor. Each portion comes with a crunchy topping and sambals are provided free of charge (homemade and non-homemade.)
Indonesia Mini Market
57 Charing Cross Road (1st Floor)
I went today for lunch - only £4 for a bowl of delicious meatball noodle soup. The meatballs' meat was obviously very cheap (kind of spongy) but everything else was delicious and the guy who owns it/runs it was really friendly. He asked me how I knew about it and I explained about Chowhound. It's definitely an excellent find right in central London. Thanks!
Indonesian-style meatballs do have that spongey characteristic - which very likely owe its origins to the times when meat were scarce, and tapioca starch & other stuff were added to boost whatever little meat was available.
Fast forward to today and one finds that, despite sufficient availability of meats nowadays, the spongey texture has become a "traditional" trademark of the dish, and Indonesian meatballs are still made using very little meat and lots of other starchy ingredients in order to retain that characteristic "bounce".
I wasn't used to this kind of texture at all when I first encountered it in Indonesia:
Went here for lunch on Friday.
My better half asked why I schlepped from Paddington to Charing Cross during my lunch hour.
I simply said Indonesian meat ball soup and she understood.
The broth was really good and as others have said I found the meatballs spongy, but hey that's how they come.
Two types of noodles too.
I had a chat and he's open till 9pm during the week. He also mentioned Ram or Nam something
at the w/ends but didn't quite catch it. Apologies but until Friday by knowledge of Indonesian food was zero.
We need more places like this in London hopefully the eagle eyed JF and Limster can find some more.
Trust JFores & Limster to continue seeking out new eating options for you guys - all in the true Chowhound spirit.
LOL! I don't think Indonesian food had anything which sounded like "ram" or "nam", but he could be mentioning about "Ayam", meaning chicken, and Indonesians - especially if they're central Javanese - make the BEST fried chicken ("Ayam Goreng") in the world!!
Has to be freshly-fried and served hot though, to make sure the crust is ultra-crisp. Don't miss it if they do offer it.
Nasi Padang (Padang style curries with rice, a heavy influence and overlap with a number of Malay dishes) uses a different rotation of dishes each time I've been there. It's great home cooking, with down-to-earth renditions of various staples such as daging rendang (beef rendang), sayur lodeh (a yellow vegetable curry) executed with honest multifaceted spicing. Echo the various comments on the mie bakso.
On Sundays that I've been there, they also have platters of various kueh (cakes/pastries/desserts), such as kueh dada, a pandan flavoured pancake wrapped around a brown sugar and coconut filling.
They also sell various baked stuff, and I really enjoy their pineapple cookies -- a roll of soft, crumbly shortbread-like shell (but a bit more moist and loosely packed) encasing a sweet pineapple filling.
More recently, they've printed a laminated menu which has more dishes, including lontong sayur (sayur lodeh with steamed rice cakes), gado gado (the ubiquitous Indonesian salad) and a bunch of other items.