Its been a while since I've eaten at Jakarta - I haven't been in for dinner since the restaurant moved from Paddington.
Anyway it seems to be going well in New Farm. I went along on a Saturday night with a few friends and the place was pretty much full, which is usually a good sign.
Once I opened the menu, I realised why it was full. The food is cheap. The entrees are between $3.90 & $6.90 and the mains range from $10.50 to $16.90. If the food's good, the place will always be packed at those prices.
Satays are my big weakness when it comes to Indonesian food, and I just couldn't go past them for an entree. If you can resist the call of sweet, tasty satays, then other entree options include Lumpia Sayur (vegetable spring rolls - $3.90), Perkedel Kentang (potato & corned beef fritters - $5.50) and a variety of soups (such as ox-tail - $5.90).
The chicken satays ($12.90 for eight) were absolutely delicious. They were not the biggest satays you've ever seen, but the chicken was tender and perfectly cooked. Once you've covered them in satay sauce, it's pretty hard to stop eating them. Luckily they were gobbled up by the rest of the table pretty quickly. We also had a serve of the Perkedel Kentang and one of the mixed entrees ($6.90).
When it comes to main course, there's a wide selection, covering satay (of course), vegetable & egg dishes, chicken, meat, seafood and rice/noodle dishes. Some of the more interesting sounding ones are Telor Belado (specially cooked eggs in red chilli sauce - $10.50), Ayam Rica Rica (I didn't ask what Rica Rica is, but it sounds good - $14.50), Ikan Bakar (whole sole marinated and char grilled - $19.50) and Semur Sapi (sauteed beef, tomato and fried potato in an Indonesian stew - $14.50).
We had five main courses between us, and some of them were particularly good. The Rendang Sapi (beef rendang - $14.50) was probably the star of the night, with its rich flavours and meltingly tender beef. Knowing how good beef rendang usually is, three of us tried to order the Rendang Sapi, but table rules prevailed and we ordered a few non-rendang dishes instead. The Opor Ayam (marinated chicken cooked in lightly spiced coconut milk - $14.50) was recommended by the waitress and was another distinctively flavoured dish. The Gulai Kambling (Indonesian lamb curry) was fine, but didn't have the wow factor of the beef rendang or Opor Ayam. We also had a serve of the mixed satay ($14.90) which didn't last long (nor did the satay sauce).
Steamed rice is $2 per person, or you can try the Nasi Kuning (yellow rice) instead for $3. If you want a couple of Indonesian side dishes, there's Acar (mixed vegetable pickles - $3), Serundeng Kentang (roasted peanuts and potatoes - $3) and sambal (hot chilli sauce).
By this stage of the night we were struggling to finish off the last few bits of the main courses, so dessert wasn't an option. If you manage to get through mains and are still feeling peckish, then its time for an Indonesian dessert. Some of them sound great - Es Cendol (a drink of tear drop shapes of rice jelly, served with brown sugar syrup, jack fruit and coconut milk - $4) or longan, lychee and rambutan with crushed ice ($4). If you really want to try something new, there's always the Es Cincau - diced grass jelly in cocopandan syrup - $4.
Jakarta also has Indonesian food for sale, in case you get hooked and want to take some home. It's both licenced and BYO wine. Corkage is $2 per person, and there's a bottle shop about 20 metres away, which is pretty handy.
Service throughout the night was friendly and efficient. Our waitresses were happy to make recommendations, which turned out to be delicious. The restaurant is decorated with Indonesian touches, and has a fairly casual, relaxed feel to it.
Jakarta is definitely worth a visit, especially if you've never tried Indonesian food before. The food is not only delicious, but its priced extremely well. We walked out paying $25 each, including corkage, and had loads of food. No complaints from me after a dinner like that.
What does all this mean? Tasty and interesting Indonesian food at crazy prices, with relaxed, friendly service.
food bling ratings
Food - Great
Service - Good
Ambience - Casual, with Indonesian touches
Value for Money - Top Shelf
Wine - Licensed & BYO
Vegetarian - Good
Jakarta Indonesian Restaurant
2/702 Brunswick Street
New Farm 4005
P - 07 3358 5715
W - http://www.jakarta.com.au/
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