Indonesian recs

OK, I’m asking. Any recommendations for Indonesian restaurants in NYC? That cuisine seems under-represented.

Sky Cafe in Elmhurst was decent…what’s your fancy?

I had ikan balado, rendang and some typically SE Asian drink filled with lots of mysterious flotsam. (for reference if you’d like, I wrote a review about that restaurant a few weeks ago:

I think their first location was in South Philly. If you have the chance, Philly is definitely better for Indonesian food than NYC…for now.

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New Malaysia in the little alley between Elizabeth and the Bowery in China town… Their Assam Laksa is very good.

Indonesian NYC is largely represented – unsurprisingly – in Elmhurst, Queens. The citadel on the hill, as it were, has traditionally been on Whitney Avenue off of Broadway, where two Indonesian restaurants under various managements have perched for years, overlooking the commercial center. The heyday had Minang Asli and Mie Jakarta up there, the latter to me being the best Indo in NYC, in rivalry with Java Village a mile or so away on Grand Street.

Now they have been replaced by Sky Cafe and Asian Taste 86, which are both very good, but not as good as Mie Jakarta was. Java Village, according to most, has dwindled in quality, but I still enjoy it. Finally there is Upi Jaya on Broadway in the shadow of the seam where Woodside and Jackson Heights come together. That’s a great family spot.

You can ignore the Indo place in Hell’s Kitchen. Not horrible, but just not in the same ballpark of authenticity and quality.

But Malaysian cuisine (from the West Coast - East Coast Malaysian food is pretty impossible to find in New York) is different from most types of Indonesian food, though there are overlaps.

Curious to know how the new Awang Kitchen in Elmhurst stacks up against the other Indonesian places in the hood. It is a sushi bar/ Indonesian place. The Indonesian side naturally drew my attention.

I time the heyday a bit earlier, when Warteg Fortuna was still on Roosevelt Avenue, which I thought was the best Indonesian food New York has ever had access to. And in those days it wasn’t difficult to get into the Indonesian Consulate for lunch either – security after 9/11 put paid to that. Since Fortuna closed I don’t think that any of them have been as good. I have eaten most well at Sky Cafe, but I have also eaten very poorly there – I think that they pre-cook a lot of their food and its very good when freshly cooked, but like eating leftovers when not. I think the place next door is less good (Cafe XX?). I have not liked the food at the places further north closer to Roosevelt. I haven’t tried Awang yet because of the involvement with sushi – a bad sign – but I will probably break down someday.

The best bet to satisfy this sort of craving, other than cooking it yourself, are the so-called “Malaysian” restaurants, which are almost always run by ethnic Chinese, but usually have Malay dishes which are usually analogues to Indonesian dishes – Sumatrans, Javanese, Kalimantans, Sulawesians (and a good way down the archipelago) are all ethnically (and linguistically) “Malay,” and the difference between Malaya/Malaysia and Dutch East Indies/Indonesia are really political constructs. Indonesia-Malaysia Restaurant on Doyers street in Manhattan has recently renamed itself Sanur, but has a few good Sumatran/Javanese dishes on the menu (I believe the family that originally ran it was from Medan). New Malaysia is generally a better restaurant, and has some things which satisfy, including a very good Ayam Penyet which they strangely call Pattaya Chicken or somesuch.

Well, I haven’t logged in here for ages, but I’m happy to see this comment. I got hip to Indo in Queens right around the time Warteg Fortuna shuttered, so I missed it–but I have no problem believing that it was the apex of Indo in the five boroughs. I’d always heard praise of it which was consistent with that.

I’m not sure I agree that “Malaysian” restaurants overlap with “Indonesian” restaurants here to the extent you imply. I’ve always felt they are substantially different. But I’m reading very quickly–I have to run–and I might be missing your point.

Welcome back.
Awang Kitchen (on Queens Blvd 2 blocks west of Bwy) might be the best of the current Indonesian restaurants. That said, I haven’t been there since Sept and hope they’ll still be around whenever I’m finally able to return.

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Thank you! I’ve just been granted the use of a car, so I may well investigate this tip soon.

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