Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Garamerica, South Melbourne by Big Fil

I am not always that keen on Indonesian food.

A lot of Indonesian eateries in Melbourne cater for the student end of the market. The food they produce is tasty but almost always fried, none too subtle and occasionally served with a chilli sauce that could burn a hole straight through your tongue if you aren't careful. Garamerica is a class above these eateries though and only marginally more expensive.

Between the four of us we ordered 5 mains to share, with the fish around double the price of all the other dishes. The bill still came out to less than $16 each - which I think is a real bargain given the quality.

Being an Indonesian restaurant the first thing we had to try was the gado gado. This dish comprises vegetables, tofu and egg covered in a peanut sauce and is something that can be found in almost every Indonesian restaurant in Melbourne. The one at Garamerica made a nice start to the meal, being a bit softer in flavour than some of the stronger tasting dishes to follow.

The second dish tried was the Batagor, fried fish dumplings with peanut sauce. This was again quite good, maybe better than the gado gado, although with both using a peanut sauce the result was two dishes with different textures but similar flavours. Consequently I am not sure I'd order both these dishes on the same night again unless there were more of us and a wider selection of dishes.

The beef rendang was 'pull apart with a fork' tender, and came with a generous serving of sauce which had just a slight amount of heat to it. This is one of my favourite Indonesian/Malay dishes, and the one at Garamerica is a good one.

The ayam bakar (grilled chicken) was moist with a smokey flavour, just like it should be. The chilli sauce was hot but not burningly so. If I was dining by myself and just wanted something quick and simple to eat this would probably be my choice from what we tried.

The best dish of the night though was undoubtedly the ikan goreng (fried fish), a whole baby snapper served on lettuce with a bowl of sweet soya sauce on the side. The skin was crisp, the meat moist and tender, and the sauce added to the dish without masking any of the sweet flavour of the fish. Because the flesh was so tender it fell away from the bone easily making it easy to eat, which is always a concern for me when served a whole fish (I am a little paranoid about fish bones). And while the most expensive of the dishes, this (or the ikan bakar) is the one I'd make sure to order if visiting in a group again.

Try it. If you aren't familiar with Indonesian food it will make a good introduction, if you are this is probably the best you will find in Melbourne in this price range.

Food – 8
Ambience – 7
Service – 7
Price – 8

230 Dorcas Street
South Melbourne VIC 3205
Tel: (03) 9696 2192

Garamerica on Urbanspoon

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