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Indonesian in Alexandria: Satay Sarinah Report (Long)


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Indonesian in Alexandria: Satay Sarinah Report (Long)

AC | Jan 24, 2006 11:50 PM

Being homemade pickles fanatics, we opted to start with the Indonesian pickles appetizer. The pickling is on the light side and not too spicy, bathing the shredded vegetables (carrots, cucumber, tiny cauliflower florets, and baby corn) in a thin, yellowish brine. For those so inclined, the Indonesian pickles could work as a surprisingly refreshing starter salad to offset the heavier entrees.

We opted to share the Nasi Rames platter to sample as many of the restaurant’s high points as possible. The platter included steamed Jasmine rice in the center surrounded by all the elements of a feast: rich and mildly sweet yellow curry chicken, green beans with flecks of red chili pepper, a chicken and beef satay, krupuk, and an egg. The krupuk, white, crispy fried rice crackers, are shaped like fallen leaves, and have a robust shrimp flavoring. They tend to be included in many Indonesian platters, though I’m not entirely sure how to properly deploy them aside from bulldozing stray bits of food. The beef satay was outstanding, sweet and spicy, nicely charred and underscoring the choice of the proprietors to tout their satay abilities in the name of the restaurant. The biggest surprise turned out to be the egg, which was hardboiled, then deep fried in a thin batter and topped with menacing chili sauce. It was a pity that we had to share just one between the two of us.

I also ordered a side of rice rolls, which are actually gelatinous cubes of mashed, long-boiled rice. The owner was kind enough to provide a bowl of their peanut sauce to accompany the rice rolls, which she explained was the condiment of choice for this odd rice permutation.

We also tried the Bogor fried chicken, which is hardly Indonesia’s answer to the Colonel’s eleven herbs and spices. Rather, the chicken is deeply marinated and fried with only the thinnest coating. The six chicken pieces arrive the color of mahogany. And though the chicken is savory enough to stand on its own, a side container holding a thick mixture of soy and chili sauce adds a welcome wetness and sweetness to the chicken.

For dessert, I opted for the Es Telur, described on the menu as “mixed tropical fruits including rambutan, young coconut, jackfruit, and grass jelly topped with shaved ice, pandan syrup, and coconut milk.” The bowl arrived with a heap of shaved ice, topped with pinkish pandan syrup. The waitress advised to mix everything up for optimum effect, and so I discovered a layer of yellow tropical fruit, brownish grass jelly cubes, and coconut milk buried beneath the shaved ice. Asian desserts largely seem to be textural sensations, and Es Telur is a fascinating blend of crunchy, flowery (the pandan syryup) sweetness, gummy blandness (the grass jelly), and rubbery fruit (rambutan, jackfruit and young coconut). I happen to love it, but it is definitely an acquired taste.

Make sure to order one of their sweet and potent Indonesian iced coffees to accompany dessert.

Check out Satay Sarinah at


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