Masakan Jawa Tengah
Last night we ate at a true Central Javanese restaurant in Jakarta. This is our first encounter with truly superb Indonesian food, and all for the whopping price of $4.25 (for two). We had soto ayam (SOH-toh ah-YAHM; chicken soup) and ayam goreng (ah-YAHM GOH-rehng; fried chicken). The soup contained shredded chicken, very thin glass noodles, sprouts, tomatoes, and cilantro…all of it, very savory and not too salty. The fried chicken was small–although we think that small for us is normal everywhere else–and featured leg, thigh, breast, and neck. To give a description of just how small it was, the leg bone was the length of a pinky finger, and much thinner. (We hope it was actually a chicken and not some unknown bird.) It also came with extra bits of, you know, fried. They were both simple and exceedingly delicious, even after one of us blew a hole in the roof of her mouth with the extra spicy sambal (SAHM-bahl; a spicy condiment that is basically mashed chilies).
As a sidenote, just when we got used to ordering Indonesian food, we visited a Japanese restaurant with a Japanese friend, and once again understood nothing on the menu. It was, though, perhaps the most authentic Japanese food we ever had.