I'd always wondered how Indonesian-style briyani rice or meat-filled martabak pancakes stack up against their counterpart in Singapore or Malaysia, where large ethnic-Indian communities abound, as opposed to Indonesia's largely native community.
This evening, I tried Restoran Agung (Est. 1960) which purportedly churned out the best briyani and martabaks in town. Very pleasantly surprised indeed - the food was very good, and could easily stand up to the best in Malaysia or Singapore. These Javanese versions were, in fact, subtler, lighter and very, very much milder in taste - consistent with the fact that my East Javanese colleagues here had attested that they could not stand authentic Indian food which they said were too heavy in spices.
What we tried at Restoran Agung:
- Nasi briyani ayam - the chicken briyani rice. Very flavorsome, fall-off-the-bone tender chicken, incredible texture to the rice. One of the most perfect rice dishes I'd ever had. The "achar" (cucumber pickles) undercuts the rich briyani taste. Mutton briyani was also available.
- Martabak ayam - crisp pancakes filled with lightly-spiced minced chicken-egg-onion filling which were incredibly light, yet full of flavors at the same time.
- Nasi goreng - this is the 100% local version (unlike the touristy one with satay sticks and fried chicken) - fried rice with sweet soysauce, bits of chicken and a sunny-side fried egg. Simple, straightforward and delicious.
- Sop kikil sapi - beef tendon soup, lightly spiced with cinnamon, star-anise, turmeric, chopped coriander and onions.
I loved practically everything there. Will definitely be back for more soon!
Jl. Merdeka Timur 2F
Malang, East Java