Restaurants & Bars 19

An Indonesian Chowtime with Ben and Suanne at Sweet Chile Cafe (Vancouver BC)

fmed | Jun 25, 200901:09 PM

Pics: http://picasaweb.google.ca/gustibus.m...

I had the pleasure of lunching with Vancouver food-bloggers extraordinaire Ben and Suanne of Chowtimes. For those of you who are unfamiliar - Chowtimes is one of the most prolific and accesible food blogs in the blogosphere: http://chowtimes.com/ . You can't help but be impressed with the sheer number of places that Chowtimes has covered.

Sweet Chili on Victoria Dr is the East Vancouver re-birth of the former Bali restaurant (Broadway). I have reported on this place here before (when it first opened).

The three of us ordered three lunch dishes, some roti canai. To start we all had few sweet drinks - mine was a fresh-squeezed lime soda, Suanne had Indonesian coffee - sweet with condensed milk, and Ben had the es cendol (a South East Asian crushed ice "shake" with sweetened condiments).

The roti was hand-made and nicely flakey. Many places in town serve frozen roti and this was a nice change - freshly made roti is much more tender, flakey, and far less oily than when cooked from a frozen state. One quiblle - they really should provide more of the dipping sauce: it came with what looks like a thimble-full of the coconut-turmeric based condiment.

The rujak kemanten is very similar to a gado-gado. The rujak kemanten uses fresh vegetables in contrast to a gado-gado's steamed and fry-wilted veggies. The sauce is also slightly different - the rujak had a more distinct tang from the more judicous use of tamarind. This is a nice alternative to the more common fruit rujak - which has a deeper sauce with a greater flavour contribution from tamarind, trasi (shrimp paste) and palm sugar than this more peanutty variant. (There are about as many variations of rojak/rujak as there are islands on the Straights).

The rendang and the lamb curry were nicely spiced - but clearly toned down in both spice, fermented fish/shrimp and chili heat. You can ask them to dial the heat up a notch - and they will add a chili sambal to the dish, but it this does not have the same effect as when you cook the spice deep into the stew. It was still quite delicious and well balanced, but I can see these dishes being better when done to authentic spice levels.

The mie lomie (or was it the mei ayam?) is a noodle dish that has a sweet (from real palm sugar and kecap manis), tart (once again from tamarind), salty and spicy sauce. It was nicely balanced - and didn't taste syrupy or heavy with oil like some others that I have had in town.

Overall a very nice, and inexpensive meal (about $40 for 3 of us). The flavours are a bit toned down, but I give them high marks for using the proper and authentic ingredients (eg real palm sugar, Indonesian kecap manis, trassi (shrimp paste) . The service was very personal and attentive...perhaps because they were intimidated by the size Ben's camera...

(more pics: http://picasaweb.google.ca/gustibus.m... )

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