Monday, March 07, 2005
Taste test: Indo Cafe
Top, corn fritters and soybean tempeh; center, chicken coconut curry; bottom, Chowhounds at Indo Cafe
L.A. Chowhounds convened March 6 for rijstaffel at West L.A's Indo Cafe. Rijstaffel means rice table, which is a feast of a dozen or so Indonesian dishes and of course, rice. The Indo Cafe staff was very friendly and our group of 35 or so completely filled the small, Indonesian-decor restaurant.
We started with large, artisanal style shrimp chips and rolled squiggly shrimp chips, both more flavorful than the typical pre-fried shrimp chips. The dishes started coming out fast at that point: first, a tasty chicken curryish soup with glass noodles and fried betel nut slices on top (!). Then, a nicely fried corn and beansprout fritter -- perkedel jagung, yum! -- served with a slightly dry tempeh soybean cake, both for dipping in sweet chili sauce. This was followed by a traditional gado gado salad with potatoes, egg, tofu and other veggies in peanut sauce, and another fritter, this time mashed potatoes with corned beef.
The courses became meatier at this point: some nicely charred beef and chicken satay; excellent, fruity beef rendang; fried chicken with deep-fried garlic bits and a medium spicy chicken/tofu coconut curry -- similar to a Thai coconut curry, but with slightly different flavor notes.
My impressions: We liked almost everything except the rather dry soybean cake. The biggest hits were the corn fritter, beef rendang and chicken curry. The peanut sauce does get a bit repetitive, however. Another vegetable dish would have rounded out the selection nicely. Indonesian food is even heavier on the potatoes than I had remembered. Although we asked for some spiciness, most of us could have taken even more. I would also liked to have tried the avocado milkshake and other unusual fruity Jello drinks.
10428 1/2 National Blvd.
(Indo Cafe is open for lunch and dinner but serves rijstaffel only on certain nights to groups larger than four, so call ahead.)