Monday, March 5, 2018

Restoran Garuda -- A Taste of Indonesian Cuisine

Southeast Asian cuisine is unique, delicious and has so many connections to Filipino food that 
it's a wonder not too many restaurants in the metropolis specialise in them.  
Thai and Vietnamese restaurants are quite popular but there are too few Malaysian, Indonesian or  Singaporean restaurants. 
There are some dishes like satay and nasi goreng that have crept into local menus but there is a lot more to the cuisine than that.
Late last year, I stumbled into Restoran Garuda, an Indonesian chain restaurant located  across the Indonesian Embassy.  I've come back a number of times to enjoy a bit of Indonesia in Makati. 

I was excited to order the gado gado, a typical Indonesian salad with blanched vegetables, fried tofu pieces, caramelised shallots and topped with gigantic pieces of fried krupuk.    It all came together very nicely with their homemade peanut sauce.

Satay is on the menu was well, with your choice of beef, chicken or for the vegetarians, there is tofu satay as well.  The chicken satay was nicely grilled with the chicken pieces remaining moist and juicy.

One of the best things on the menu is the martabak or murtabak, a fried thin puff pastry filled with your choice of filling  -- beef, chicken or  minced mushrooms.  Garuda's martabak is not at all oily and the puff pastry is light and crisp.  For added zest, spoon some homemade curry sauce on top.  This martabak is as good as those  I've had from hawker places in Singapore and street food vendors in Indonesia. 

Garuda is a good place for vegetarians -- their bakwan sayur or fried vegetable fritters are listed as a side dish but an order contains generous pieces that are more than enough for a meal.  It's the Indonesian version of our very own  ukoy. 

The other tasty dish at Garuda is  fried chicken topped with crisp coconut flakes.  The chicken is well seasoned and makes for an interesting and refreshing taste break from the usual western style fried chicken we are all so used to.

It wouldn't be right to eat in an Indonesian restaurant and not order the beef rendang,  the quintessential national  dish.  
Cooked for a long time in coconut cream and spices, rendang is somewhat akin to our mechado, albeit without the "gata".    While the rendang sauce was rich, spicy and coconut-creamy,
the meat was not as tender as it should have been. 
This was my only "beef" with Garuda ... haha, see what I did there?  Wink, wink.

If you are not dining as a group, there are "value meals" like nasi goreng with a viand and side dish of your choice.  
Or you can go for my favourite --  Mee Goreng Pecel, pictured above.   
It's a savoury bowl of noodles sautéed with vegetables, shallots, your choice of chicken or beef,
and topped with a well fried egg and prawn krupuk.  
Mee Goreng Pecel comes smothered with  peanut sauce but I ask for it on the side so I can adjust the "peanut-ness" to my palate.

I guess Garuda's slogan says it all -- Live Life with a Bit of Spice!  Go ahead ... discover something different and have some Indonesian food next time you dine. 

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