Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Restaurant Indonesia, Napier (NZ) by Big Fil

Given the scarcity of authentic Asian restaurants in New Zealand, the last thing you'd expect to find in Napier hundreds of kilometres from Auckland or Wellington is an Indonesian restaurant specialising in Rijsttafel.

Rijsttafel is a Dutch Indonesian style of food and literally translates as 'rice table'. It's made up of a large number of small hot and cold dishes, and for people unfamiliar with Indonesian cuisine it offers a chance to try some fairly typical offerings. Restaurant Indonesia offers four different types of Rijsttafel - vegetarian, meat, fish and a combined fish and meat, and Hungry Pete and I went for the meat option.

The restaurant itself is nicely decorated with Indonesian motifs including wooden carvings along the walls and a series of puppets above the doors. The restaurant owner (or at least I assume he was) certainly played the role of the host very well, making everyone feel very much a guest rather than a patron.

The food soon started flowing and Hungry Pete (who had never been for Rijsttafel before) was impressed at its quantity and quality. The meat Rijsttafel comprised 15 different items including old favourites such as chicken satays, beef rendang and gado gado, as well as some I don't remember having tried before such as the dadar jagung, an Indonesian style corn fritter.

Satay Ayam and Atjar Tjampur - chicken satays and picked vegetables

Kerupuk udang - prawn crackers

Presentation of the dishes was nice, even the rice came with its own carved garden trowel (I don't know how else to describe it, that’s what it looked like to me).

Some of the dishes weren’t exactly as I prefer them. For example, I found the chicken satays a bit drowned under what I thought was too sweet a sauce and the gado gado a bit mundane.

Gado Gado, Sayur Lodeh and Kari Telor - Mixed vegetable salad with peanut and egg, vegetables in curried coconut cream and stewed egg

Better were the meat dishes, the lamb stew and the beef rendang. These dishes involve long cooking of the meat at a comparatively low temperature that at its best results in meat which you can literally cut with a fork or spoon. The meat wasn't quite that tender but still good. One thing I particularly liked is how when we had finished the lamb and beef a new bowl was soon brought out.

Rendang Padang, Kurmah, Tumis Buncis, Sambal Goreng Paprika and Semur Ayam Tomot - Beef rendang, lamb stew, green beans, spiced capsicum and tomato spiced chicken drumsticks

An unexpected find with one of the best hosts I have ever come across. While not every dish was spot on both Hungry Pete and myself thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and would happily point anyone visiting Napier in this direction. Most of the other guests on the night weren't very familiar with Indonesian cuisine and all were pointed in the direction of the Rijsttafel (the same as the two Australian Gentlemen were having). My only real issue was that after all that food we were too full to try dessert!

409 Marine Parade
Napier New Zealand
Tel: (06) 835 8303

1 comment:

Bureaucrat said...

what a quaint looking restaurant! reminds me of this Surinamese restaurant I went to in Rotterdam (which I'll be blogging about soon).

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