Thursday, December 07, 2006

Angke, Jakarta

Angke is pretty much one of the most (if not the most) well-known Chinese restaurants in Indonesia. This place fits hundreds of tables and is packed most of the time, even on weeknights. They serve Hakka food but as with most Indonesian-Chinese restaurants, there are certain localized elements to their cooking that somehow still make the dining experience unique. In fact this is probably the first Hakka restaurant that I've dine in which none of the Hakka staples I'm familiar with such as Hakka stuffed beancurd, "abacus seeds" and braised pork belly with preserved vegetables wasn't ordered.

Crispy eel stir-fried with vegetables. The red wine sediment that's generously sprinkled in some of their dishes are perhaps a sign of their Hakka heritage. It did impart some fragrance to their dishes and despite being stir-fried with vegetables after being deep-fried, the eel still remained crunchy and delectable. Very tasty.

Garlic prawns, best part about this is that the prawns are fully shelled, not just split down down the center sagitally as with some of the seafood restaurants in Singapore. The prawns were steamed to the right consistency and the garlic butter sauce was fragrant and aromatic without being overly salty.

Deep-fried fish topped with a black bean sauce and soft beancurd. This dish is JA's favorite here and was practically a staple when he was growing up in Jakarta. I can tell why he likes it so much. The fish was still crunchy and the sauce had this smokey taste which made it ever so delicious. The contrast of the crunchy fish and the soft beancurd was just pure genius.

Frog stir-fried with preserved vegetables. When I first heard the description of this dish, I was rather skeptical if it would be very tasty. JA's father raves alot about this dish and I know he is a man of good taste but I still had some initial fears. All fears and skeptism were extinguished the moment I tasted this dish. It was so good. The preserved vegetables were not salty, the frog flesh was tender and sweet and the sauce with the red rice wine sediment was just the thing for stirring into rice.

Braised sea cucumber was the last dish we had and boy did we have to go off with a blast. These had to be the largest sea cucumbers I've seen served at a restaurant. Each sea cucumber was at least about 15cm in length and more than half and inch thick. The braised sauce infused the sea cucumber thoroughly to make this a very juicy and delicious dish indeed.

Just a close-up shot to emphasize how thick these sea cucumbers were.

For dessert, we hit one of the local fruit stores to pick up some harum manis mangoes. I was pretty fortunate that my trip coincided perfectly with the harum manis season and if you're a mango fan like me, you'll love the harum manis variety. Harum means fragrant and manis means sweet and these mangoes certainly lived up to their name. Although the skin still remains green they are actually already quite ripe.

What a way to end my first day of eating in Jakarta, with some refreshing and super sweet mangoes.



Anonymous said...

i love mango! wow. You really have a good appetite! :)

D said...

lav: I enjoy mango in all its derivatives such as mango pudding, mango ice-cream, mango lassi etc but I still feel it's best enjoyed fresh in its natural state.