Thanks to the friendly world of LA’s food bloggers I had the luxury of partaking in a weekend of eating delicious Indonesian food recently.
The current economic climate prohibited a real vacation to Indonesia so I toured the beautiful islands through the window of my computer.
Luckily eating great Indonesian food doesn’t require a passport or eighteen hour flight. Gastronomy organized a feast at the Pasadena home of Ira (chef behind Ira’s Gourmet). The meal served as an introduction to some of the fantastic food Ira caters (and she’s available for catering right now, so email her: sarnadira at yahoo dot com).
I loved the lemper ayam, a banana leaf filled with sticky rice and chicken. The hard boiled egg is a staple on Indonesian menus, and healthy too.
I was surprised that Indonesian cuisine features tofu and tempeh right next to fried chicken and beef. The variety is great and the flavors even greater. The best part about the dinner was meeting so many bloggers I’ve never met before.
The next night Gourmet Pigs organized an offal-filled Indonesian meal at Raso Minang in West Covina. Previously I’d only eaten at Indo Cafe and Ira’s, so I was looking forward to Cow Brain Curry and other treats. It’s located in a food court in a restaurant filled strip mall- how LA is that? I just found this video of the food court:
The restaurant next door was having their grand opening so we lucked out and got a free plate to accompany our other shared meal. I don’t know how I’d never tried kering kentang (I think that’s the name); potato chips, fish sauce, chili peppers, sugar, peanuts, fried shallots and I believe anchovies… brilliant.
The tongue skewers were very soft and the sauce was subtly spicy. The knuckles, liver and gizzard ranged from tough to tasty.
The jerky was too dry and the accompanying sauce wasn’t flavorful enough to fix it. Nothing was too spicy, but nothing was as powerfully flavored as I’d expected either. The fried fish cake with hardboiled egg in middle was one of the best dishes of the night.
The cow brain curry was fantastic. Soft and absorbent, gathering curry flavor as it cooked and sat. The picture doesn’t do it justice, unfortunately. The beef rendang was terrific, but not pictured.
I do love eating this way, shared out of styrofoam containers with plastic utensils. Sampling new flavors, new textures.
Not one to end a meal so far from home without a good dessert, we venture a bit further to The Donut Man. The infamous stand sends sweet smelling wafts of sugar and dough into the parking lot, the kind of smell that turns a dieter to donuts.
They’re known for their strawberry filled donut explosion. I hate to say it but it wasn’t good. The strawberries were too big, the jam was too sweet, the donut got clobbered. I love old fashioned glazed donuts and this one wasn’t that special. The chocolate was the best of the three. I don’t think I ordered right. Can you ask what’s the freshest out of the oven?
So ended my Indonesian staycation. The view of the beach from my computer wasn’t as nice as the real thing, but the food definitely was.