Food & Drink Aug 31, 2006 at 4:00 am

Indo Cafe Monopolizes the Indonesian Cuisine Market


I know this is an old review, but it's more than a little inaccurate and written by someone who, obviously, has never lived in or visited Indonesia.

The islands of Indonesia are MASSIVE and, in actuality, the vast majority of the population live inland. Seafood makes up a surprisingly small amount of what is consumed by a typical Indonesian, especially when you're talking about fresh seafood.

Vegetables, rice, noodles, tofu, and tempe are the items that make up the foundation of the cuisine and the national diet.

The most common animal-proteins are chicken, fish, duck, steak, horse, goat (a LOT of goat), and assorted seafood. Bakso (meatball) and sosis (hot-dog like sausages) are also very popular. As is eating the *entire* animal-- innards are just as common in a dish as any other part of the animal.

The only meat you're going to be hard-pressed to find is pork, and that's because 90% of Indonesians are Muslim. The only place that pork is readily available is on Bali, where the majority of citizens are Hindu.

As far as fruit goes, it's a common snack and ingredient in drinks and mixed-ice desserts, but you're not going to find much of it in cooking.

The flavors range from downright bland to extremely spicy. Peppers are used in almost everything, and sambal accompanies everything. Peanut sauce is only used in a few dishes-- with siomay, sate, gado-gado, and ketoprak. It is *not* always served as a condiment.

Food in Indonesia is generally prepared ahead of time and then left to sit out, often for days at a time. It is almost always served at room temperature and meat is always cooked extremely well, to avoid food-born illnesses. (The vast majority of homes do not have running water or refrigeration. They just cook the shit out of food to make sure that it doesn't make you sick.)

Rendang, the dish that was 'overcooked', is generally stewed for a day (or two). It's starts in a liquid, with lots of herbs and spices and coconut. It's cooked so long that all of the liquid disappears and it *looks* like a dry rub. After the cooking is complete, it is left to sit for a day (or two), becoming even more delicious after a few days of lingering in the spices. The meat is almost always rough and dry-- that is how it's *supposed* to be.

To be fair, restaurants should be reviewed by someone already familiar with a nation's cuisine.
Your comment was no better than the one who reviewed this particular restaurant. What made you the "authority" on this subject? If the reviewer has to be someone who's already familiar with this type of restaurant, then must he or she be familiar with "all" type of restaurants then? What a thoughtless comment to make. The stuffs you'd written, frankly, is nothing that anyone with an internet access don't already know. C'mon, write something using your brain next time !

I suggested that, in order for reviews to be accurate and fair, the reviewer should already have a basic understanding of the food that they're about to eat.

How can a person adequately review food when they have no idea how it's supposed to taste? When they have no benchmark for what 'good' is?

A person familiar with Indonesian food would know that ordering pork from an Indonesian restaurant is like ordering the lone hamburger on a Mexican joint's menu. It just doesn't make any sense.

And rendang, the dish that the reviewer criticized, is supposed to taste exactly the way that the reviewer described.

What makes me the authority on this subject? Well, I'm no authority on food reviews, but I know a little something about Indonesian food-- seeing as how I live in Indonesia.

I stumbled across this review in an attempt to find an Indonesian restaurant in Seattle to refer a friend to. I thought it was unfortunate that the restaurant had gotten such a bum review out of the deal, since it's obvious that the reviewer didn't know what to expect. That's all.

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