Sunday, March 29, 2009
Java Noodle has been over on East Oltorf for several years, and according to a bit of chatter I saw online, they've gone through numerous owners. It's an Indonesian place (though there are clearly some Thai and Chinese dishes on the menu), and while I have never gone that frequently, maybe once or twice a year, there have always been certain dishes I love. Saturday morning, the cravings came! Must make a trip!
I didn't have a carryout menu handy at home, so I drove over there to place my order to go. I immediately knew I wanted the Fried Tofu from the appetizer menu (#2), and the Rendang Daging Padang, which I always just known as beef marinated in a spicy coconut milk mixture (#1 under Beef). Then I wanted a vegetable dish, but didn't know what. I asked the cashier (late teens, maybe early 20s?) about the Gado Gado Salad (#6 in the Vegetarian section), specifically, what kind of vegetables were in it. She sheepishly said she didn't really know. At that moment, one of the waitstaff (also fairly young) came up to the counter; they conferred in an Asian dialect, and neither of them had a clue, but she said she could go to the kitchen and find out. I told her I wanted some vegetables to balance out the beef; she did suggest the Java Special, which is #5 under the Vegetarian menu, but asked if I wanted it with tofu or chicken, and I opted for chicken; basically veg & chicken in a red curry sauce. So while I was a bit put off by their complete lack of knowledge regarding one of their dishes, she somewhat redeemed herself by making an immediate suggestion for another similar dish. Does make me wonder how long both of these two had been working there, and/or had management recently changed.
Fortunately, the food came fast, and I returned home. The reason I love the fried tofu is it is served with a brown sugar sauce, which I cannot seem to replicate on my own. The tofu suffers a bit from sweating in a styrofoam container; not quite as crispy as when you get it there at the restaurant, but I still love the sauce. The veg in the Java Special was mostly green beans, broccoli, cabbage & carrots; a slightly sweet, slightly spicy creamy sauce. It's a pretty tasty dish. Now as I recall the beef dish in the past, it's been slightly tough chunks of beef in just this fabulous spicy coconut milk marinade. I don't remember it having a ton of sauce with it. So I was in for a surprise when I opened the container, and a big (slightly greasy) pool of sauce is filling the container, and the beef is swimming in it. The beef was still in big chunks, but more tender than I remember -- these really fell apart when cut with a fork. It's a really nice, spicy sauce, with that coconut milk flavor that I remember. Large portions, as there is at least 2 more meals worth of food in my fridge.
So management, and probably a chef or two have changed, but the food was still good, though not exactly as I remember it. They have a website, but it appears not to have a server at the moment; hopefully that will be remedied. They also have weekday lunch buffets, and a really big one on Sundays, though I've never been to it.