The first time I experienced Indonesian cuisine was while on vacation in Paris.
The dishes were on tiny plates. I don’t recall the specific names but the food was so good, I went back for more. In fact, I tried to recreate a noodle dish with bean sprouts.
In Hong Kong, I always visit a restaurant simply named Indonesia which serves authentic, delicious fare. I always eat rendang with one extra order of piping-hot rice.
Rendang, a spicy red meat originating from the Sumatran Minangkabau natives of Indonesia, has other versions—Malay, Singaporean, even southern Philippines. I found it in some parts of Mindanao like in Cagayan de Oro at the restaurant Cucina Higala.
Once, in Bali, I was forever in search of a good rendang, but sadly disappointed over what I ended up with. These days, rendang to me has fallen in the same category as burgers, fried chicken and ribs. But if I come across food joints offering any of these, I still try them.
The Food Hall
Sometime ago, my friend Bob invited me to the opening of The Food Hall at SM Aura in Bonifacio Global City. Running the place was chef Carlo Miguel.
I arrived early. I was chatting with Bob and Carlo while browsing through the menu when, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted two words waving at me: beef rendang. Patay, I knew I couldn’t resist it.
Before the dish arrived, Carlo was already giving a background on where he got the recipe: “My wife is Indonesian and I got the recipe from her grandmother. But I tweaked it a bit to my taste.”
The dark-brown rendang, coated with a thick brown sauce, was served with pickled shallots, kropek or prawn crackers, and piping-hot white rice.
On first bite of this super-tender rendang, oh my gosh, it was the most delicious version I have ever tasted. I wanted to kiss Carlo. It was so good, I ordered another bowl of rice, even if had taken rice off my diet.
I ate like a carpenter, wiping out the whole thing alone.
Later, when all the invited guests arrived, a variety of delicious burgers was served, plus platters of beef flank steaks cooked sous vide style.
I couldn’t help tipping off the other guests about the rendang. When the dish arrived, of course, I ate again. It was that good!
Can’t wait to be back soon.
The Food Hall, 5/F, SM Aura Premier, 26th St. corner McKinley Parkway, Taguig City