This 4-day-old Manado restaurant is the second Roa restaurant by Manado-born fashion designer, Jovian Mandagie (the first one was in Shah Alam, a township 29 km from Kuala Lumpur). The cuisine from Manado, the capital city of Sulawesi, Indonesia, is more rustic and explosively spicy compared to the more commonly available Javanese and Sumateran cuisines here.
What we had this evening:
- "Sapi Rica-Rica": beef cubes, stir-fried with tomatoes, lots of tongue-numbing "cabe rawit" (explosive bird's-eye/habanero chillis). The beef was too hard and dry for me - the way it's cooked preserves the dish for days, and is actually one of Manado's most popular dishes. My tummy still felt on fire 3 hours later.
- "Ayam Tuturaga": chicken and potatoes cooked in a "rempah" mix of shallots, garlic, turmeric leaves, basil and spring onions, then thickened with coconut milk.
- "Roa Saos": a smaller species of swordfish, fried till crispy then shredded. It's then deep-fried with olive oil, chillis, shallots and garlic.
- "Terong Saos Telur": eggplant strips topped with an eggy curd-like sauce.
- "Perkedil Jagung": corn fritter - I'd avoid the version here, which has been pre-fried, then warmed up in a microwave upon order. What resulted was soggy, instead of being light & crisp.
Overall, a good introduction to Manado's fiery cuisine. The decor is bright, modern and sleek, unlike the cheap, dark, sometimes overly-ethnic decor of most Indonesian eateries in KL. Service staff are friendly and efficient. Unfortunately, the cooking seems half-hearted and pitched at the "casual dining" crowd - the way the "perkedil jagung" was served is a case in point.
Roa by Jovian Mandagie
16, Jalan Telawi 5
Tel: +603 2201 2161