An Indonesian buffet | Bleader

Monday, April 23, 2007

An Indonesian buffet

Posted By on 04.23.07 at 06:37 PM

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I've groused about the lack of a dedicated Indonesian restaurant in town so I was really looking forward to the dinner Agnes Fong organized Saturday--a buffet catered by the Kusumo family of Joliet. Lucy and Handojo Kusumo are from Surabaya, but have been stateside since 1999 when Handojo got a job as a researcher at UIC. They used to just cook for fun at parties, until word got around and people started hiring them out, notably for for events at the Indonesian consulate.

Things started off with bakwan jagung, soft, almost eggy corn fritters, and pangsit ayam goreng, deep fried wontons filled with chicken and shrimp. Main dishes included gado gado, a vibrant composed salad of steamed carrots, tofu, seitan, long beans, and pineapple in a peanut dressing, a very tender beef rendang, curried chicken, chicken sate, and a jackfruit and banana dessert in a coconut base. For me the most interesting and satisfying dish was lontong komplit: soft, compacted rice rolls accompanied by a curry coconut soup, shrimp crackers, and a dish of liver, potatoes, and fried garlic. Much like my recent Burmese lunch, nothing was aggressively seasoned. (See images link for more pics.)

Throughout the evening Handojo, Lucy, and their friend Bertha good naturedly resisted entreaties to open a restaurant, but you can book them by calling 815-744-0199 or 773-875-7099.

Meanwhile, several guests mentioned a place in Des Plaines called Little Amsterdam, 686 Lee Street, that does a Indonesian buffet every other weekend. Owner Ann De Jongh, who was born in Amsterdam, lays out a rijsttaffel or Indonesian rice table, a lengthy progression of various dishes accompanied by, you guessed it, rice. It seems like De Jongh's version which is presented as a buffet, is a little more limited than a full blown, endless Amsterdam-style rijsttafel which you can see depicted all over the city's storefront windows. She says she features a rotating selection of eight Indonesian dishes, along with three or four Dutch ones, a Dutch cheese plate, and "a lot of sweets." The next one is this Saturday, April 28 from 4 to 9 PM. It's all you can eat for $9.95. Call 847-298-8321.


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