food-ie event #13 at Indonesia Restaurant 5-20-09
1725 Snyder Ave, Philadelphia PA 19145
We gorged ourselves on the feast introduced to us as "Nasi Kuning" which means yellow rice and is a special banquet-like feast for special occasions. For us, it was an introduction to various treasures found in Indonesian cuisine. Our friendly and enthusiastic host, Indra, seemed as excited as us for this event. He offered a friendly and informative introduction before we started, which always helps set the tone for a good foodie event.
This meal reminded me of complex flavors I've experienced in various cuisines from Thai to Indian and even Turkish. At other times the meal offered flavors less familiar yet certainly no less enjoyable. Shortly after our wine was uncorked our first appetizer arrived. The Lemper (Marinated chicken & sticky rice) was wrapped in a bright green banana leaf. Once unwrapped, the sticky rice rectangle was quite bland in appearance but not in any way of taste. Like all the the nine courses to follow, there was a mix of new and familiar flavors offered to keep our senses alert. The soup to follow was surprisingly robust. OK, weird, I just applied the word Robust before realizing it was in the description: Tongseng Kambing -(Minced Lamb with “Robust” soups). Besides being appropriately named, it had cabbage and juicy tender lamb and veggies etc. I was surprised how it was chunky like Pho, but flavored like curry. The broth was amazing too. Mmmm, damn, I'm getting hungry all over again.
Following the appetizer and soup, each foodie was paired to share a multi-compartment dish that held the six entrees listed below. To spare you and me the long review, let me just summarize.
Yeah, by now we were stuffed to capacity and of course we all knew we had two desserts to come! At this point, you noticed a calmer defeated undertone amongst the groups murmurs. We were challenged to take in so much. We were challenged by food, and food won. I was proud, however, that we never quit. The Pisang Goreng (Fried banana) was served with a carafe of brown sugar syrup. This was a very sweet banana fritter. Naturally the banana's are sweet when cooked and having been fried, they would've sufficed as dessert alone. But, no, the unique Angslei (Coconut milk, bread, shredded Jello, green beans) came and challenged my second-wind appetite. It was surprising, it was good. As common in Asian dessert offerings, this dish was not overtly sweet. It was just sweeter than savory. It's something I appreciate more and more as I get older. The key was to not think of the description of the Angslei. Just eat it and enjoy.
All in all, we had fun because the food was good. I detected no disappointments. The group was fired up from start to finish, and despite the amount we ingested, it didn't quiet us up much. The staff was quick and friendly. We did not merely feel welcomed, we felt the gratitude for showing up. Few foodie events evoke such emotions, but like the lamb we had at Zahav, I will probably always get slightly teary eyed when thinking of this meal.
Lemper (Marinated chicken & sticky rice)
Tongseng Kambing -(Minced Lamb with “Robust” soups)
Rendang Sapi -Beef Rendang (Red Curry)
Bakmi Goreng & Sate Ayam - (Fried noodles and chicken satay)
Sambal Goreng Tempeh & Udang-(Marinated potatoes, Tempeh, beans, shrimp)
Urap-Urap & Dadar Jagung - (Mixed coconut vegetables and corn cake omelets)
Ayam Bumbu Rujak - (Barbeque chicken, eggs with coconut bell pepper sauce)
Perkedel, Ikan Pepes, Telor Suwir -(Potatoes beef ball, mackerel fish wrapped in banana leaves, shredded eggs)
Pisang Goreng (Fried banana)
Angslei (Coconut milk, bread, shredded Jello, green beans).
Group photo with Indra at Indonesian Restaurant 5/20/09