[Palo Alto, CA] Solid Indonesian fusion at Indo

Indo is an Indonesian fusion restaurant in Palo Alto on a quiet stretch of El Camino with a low key storefront. The head chef is an Indonesian. The space used to be the Straits Cafe before it became Indo a few years ago. This year they expanded their hours to cover lunch. Here’s a recent meal:

Starter sampler:
The server recommended the chicken satay in the apps section. Thinking chicken satay might be too ‘mainstream’ we went with the app sampler. Turned out the chicken satay was indeed the best tasting item in the sampler, with the samosa second. The sampler had:

Chicken satay. Chicken was tender and well marinated, coated with a generous coating of savory peanut sauce.

The samosa contained vegetables with curry mixed in. The chili sambal added a punch.

Poh pia, which was spring rolls with vegetable, shrimp and egg with a spicy hoisin sauce. Tuna tartare came on cucumber and had roes on top. These two items seemed more Vietnamese and Japanese than Indonesian. The flavors for both seemed a little bland.

Lamb korma- braised lamb shank, carrots, potatoes, coriander cumin curry- slow cooked to fall-off-the-bone tender, with the cumin curry supplying a Southeast Asian slant.

Garlic noodles- egg noodles, sliced shitake, tomatoes chunks, basil with chicken. Good wok ‘breath’ on the noodles.

Lemongrass mint drink- did not detect much lemongrass flavor= the drink was quite watery.

Comp’ed a roti prata when they asked and we answered that we were there for the first time. I’d say the curry was aromatic and went well with the roti, though the price seemed relatively high for the dish.

Interior. There is an outside shaded garden.

Solid meal. Not everything was a hit, but the hits were quite delicious.
We hadn’t been earlier due to concerns that Indo is just another restaurant in Palo Alto that looks better than it tastes and costs much more than what the taste warrants. But the cooking for the hits ordered was quite nice and the meal was not Palo Alto-expensive. Probably a restaurant where one has to pick out the solid dishes from the ‘trying too hard’ dishes. We’ll be back.

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Interesting. It used to be Straits, which was descended from the original Straits on Geary. I tried the place during the Strights period, and thought it was exactly as you said: looking good and trying too hard.

These days, when I want the kind of fusion they aspire to, I end up at Mandrin Roots down the street. Which I am very fond of, especially on warm indian-summer evenings like tonight.

In terms of interesting indo-ish food, I’ll recommend Black Pepper in Menlo Park on ECR. We find the bar very pleasant, and the tastes are well organized and sprightly.

I’ll put it on the retry list.

Ooh, like the look of the roti - not greasy/oily the way it so often is at various EBay Indo-Asian places. Thx for the report and photos, very helpful.

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I think the chef bought Straits out and renamed the place Indo. I was not particularly fond of Straits (don’t remember which location I ate at), but it was such a long time ago and I remember nothing of the meals. Not sure also whether the chef cooks the dishes any differently now versus when it was still Straits.

But the meal was solid enough that I will go back and give the other dishes a try. Black Pepper is on the list to try.

Yeah, and when I first went to Straits on Geary, I had not yet been to indonesia :slight_smile:

Since you have been to Indonesia, you would have higher standards than me. Perhaps you can talk the chef into making you something Indonesian…!

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold