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A taste of Indonesia

Visiting friends always make the best excuse to eat in new restaurants (well, new to us anyway) and we took advantage of it recently to check out an Indonesian restaurant not far from our place. Restaurant Indonesia – I know, not the most imaginative of name but does the job perfectly – is just steps away from Luxembourg Garden, thus location-wise, it’s central and a walk in Luco after lunch would have been a good option. When it is not raining, that is.

The restaurant is long and narrow, and upon arrival we were warmly welcomed by the sole server(!) waiting on all the tables in the dining room. On a Saturday afternoon in a restaurant full of diners, that was an impressive feat. She left us to peruse the menu at our leisure – a small basket of prawn crackers was also deposited in the centre of the table so we can snack in the mean time – and we decided to go for the rijstafel (i.e. rice table – a Dutch word in origin, bearing in mind Indonesia was formerly a Dutch colony) where we would have a selection of dishes to share between us instead of restricting ourselves to just a handful few main dishes.

Briefly, 3 sets of rijstafel were available – either vegetarian (“Vegetari”), meat-based (“Nusantara”) or seafood-based (“Samudra”) – and each set comes with two starters, four variety of main dishes, and accompanying rice. Between us, we ordered two Nusantara and two Samudra. I ponder now why didn’t I add a Vegatari to our midst so we could try every rijstafel served here? (Excuse to go back?)

For our starters, we had vegetable with grated coconut (“sayur urap”), vegetable salad with boiled egg and satay sauce (“gado-gado”), and fried mini spring rolls (“lumpiahs”). Plenty of crunch factors in all the components provided and we were off on a good start. I’m normally not a fan of fried mini rolls though, so that didn’t do much for me. On the other hand, it was comforting to be tasting a decent satay sauce for a change that I polished off the remainder of the salad which none of the guys wanted to finish up. (I believe they were being gentlemen and said no so I wouldn’t be too embarassed hogging the dish after looking at it with gleaming eyes…)

When the main dishes arrived (in small dishes that were meant for two portions per serving) the table nearly ran out of space to contain them all. Eight plates and bowls of food plus four additional rice-filled plates, that was indeed a small feast. From the meat rijstafel: deliciously succulent grilled chicken satay (Malaysian’s streetside chicken satay still trumps in my book but this was a good second), beef curry with creamy coconut milk (“beef rendang”), lamb curry (“gulai kambing”), and nutmeg and sweet soya sauce-marinated beef (“semur jawa”).

To taste the myriad of spices which I grew up with was comforting, but my palate was also trained to handle a lot more heat from the curries on the table. It means I ended up perceiving the curries to be sweeter than the norm, whereas for the guys they were just the right amount of spiciness to handle. Then again, it is Indonesian cuisine we’re talking about so what if my Malaysian root has steered me wrong here, tricking me into thinking that the similarly-named dishes would be cooked the same manner that I have been accustomed to? (I see a trip to Indonesia in my near future, just so I can be sure, you know.)

On the seafood front: gambas satay (which I cannot eat, drat silly sensitivity and I forgot my antihistamine), fish curry, calamari sticks (“cumi bali”) and fish fritters (“lilit goreng”). The fish was served in a lemongrass-fresh curry, light and not overpowering the delicate taste of the fish, while the fritters on stick could do with some sauce on the side in my opinion. I couldn’t quite discern the flavour of the sauce in which the calamari was served after all the heavier spiced meat dishes, but I certainly enjoyed eating the remainder of the dish, which again, the others had had enough of. I think a couple of them are simply not fans of its texture, but it did mean I get extra serving of it so I am not complaining!

Asian desserts are fairly particular, and from talking to most of my non-Asian friends, I’ve come to learn that it is a hit-or-miss kind of thing. (I’m sad to report, accordingly, mostly miss…) As much as I enjoy the creations of master pâtissiers in this city, given an opportunity to eat something more “rustic yet exotic”, I am never going to say no. I therefore ordered kue pisang with coconut caramel ice cream to cap my meal. It is essentially steamed tapioca and banana flan, wrapped in banana-leave, and the ice cream came with sprinkles of palm sugar. They hit all the right spots for me, and if only I wasn’t already full from overeating the portions during the main meal, I would happily chomp down a couple more of these. The guys also had a taste and the verdict: a resounding yay :D

The bill for the four of us totalled just under €120, and a massive thank to R and J for this lovely treat. There also have very well priced weekday lunch menu, where dish of the day comes at €9.50 and can be paired with either a starter or a dessert for just an additional €1. That’s a real bargain! It is not too far from work so perhaps I can persuade my colleagues to go there one day together…

Restaurant Indonesia
12 rue de Vaugirard, 75006 Paris
Métro: Odéon / RER: Luxembourg
Tel: 01 43 25 70 22
Monday to Saturday: 12-3pm, 7pm-midnight

Category: Food & Drink

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2 scribbles & notes

  1. Chloé says:

    If G ever takes the time to get “home-sick” of A’dam (unlikely as it seems), he might be interested ;) In any case, I am! :)

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