When I was living in Paris, I would travel to some major cities of Europe on occasional vacations. Most of the time, I would drive and enjoy the scenery.
Paris is almost in the center of the continent. One of the cities closest to Paris is Amsterdam. I don’t remember much about Amsterdam except the Gouda cheese (both new and Vieux or old, much like our queso de bola), herring and Indonesian food.
I had never tried Indonesian cuisine until I went to Amsterdam, with many such restaurants because Indonesia was once a colony of Holland. I remember eating in a place where we had over a dozen dishes in tiny plates.
I loved the noodles so much that it inspired me to create something similar. I ate in that restaurant every day of my stay in Amsterdam.
I came across the cuisine again in Hong Kong in a place called, well, Indonesia Restaurant, along Granville Road in the Tsim Sha Tsui area on the Kowloon side. Here, I fell in love with the laksa. But the one that really captivated me was the beef rendang.
Rendang is a thick reddish dish simmered in coconut milk and mixed with various herbs and spices. Served best the next day, the beef melts in your mouth and is a bit spicy. This is one dish that must be had with piping hot rice.
I dream about this dish. I am working on developing something similar for Wooden Spoon, so our customers can experience the ecstasy I am talking about. Just wait. (It is also a dish of our Muslim brothers in the south.)
In Manila, one establishment opened in the 1990s, somewhere in Polaris Street, that I loved, but that restaurant closed after a year or two. I still look and crave for its food.
Well, my search ended with one of our usual Sunday badminton sessions. My buddy Boy Corcuera, who also loves to explore new places, whispered to me that a new Indonesian place has just opened in Barrio Kapitolyo.
I went there that same day. Oh my gosh! The place is beautifully decorated and the servers are dressed in Indonesian outfits. I met the owners and learned that they were long-time residents of Indonesia.
The menu is still quite limited. I ordered Gado Gado, a salad-like dish with peanut dressing; it was okay. But a noodle dish called Bakmi Goreng I enjoyed immensely. Stir-fried, it had green veggies, thin strips of beef and fresh lomi-like noodles, topped with fried egg and toasted garlic. Masarap!
I also had the sate Ayam, which are delicious chicken skewers broiled over charcoal and dipped in a fantastic and authentic Indonesian peanut sauce. With it, I ordered Indonesian Fried Rice or Nasi Goreng. Served with colored cropek on the side, the fantastic-tasting fried rice was also topped with fried egg.
I ordered the Beef Rendang another day and it was also good, but I would have preferred a slightly more fatty cut of beef like shank. The sauce was thick, tasty and rich. It’s a must to have this with piping hot rice.
Another dish I think is good but I have yet to try is the Ibu Wiwick or Ayam Goreng, the resto’s simple version of fried chicken.
I plan to try everything on the menu! As MacArthur said, “I shall return.”
Wow, what an exciting discovery. What I used to dream about in Amsterdam, I can now relive in Manila. Check this place out.
Warung Indonesian Restaurant, 83 East Capitol Drive, Kapitolyo; tel. 0917-8009158, 4005249.
Wooden Spoon Kapitolyo weekday lunch buffet for P375. Trust me, sulit! Call to reserve.