All restaurants have a history but not all had their grand opening in the 1920’s. Hudson Chang is the current restaurant owner and grandson of the original proprietor, who opened the very first restaurant in Surabaya, Indonesia in the 1920’s. When you walk in, you can see the original photos on the wall with his grandfather outside the then called; Singapore Restaurant.
The venue looks a bit different today of course. It is no doubt a more upmarket establishment than the original! Its décor is quite eclectic with a mix of wooden benches, urban cement floors and walls, and marble-top tables. Soft lighting and old photos, an airy space and chilled out background music certainly make you relax and feel comfortable. Yet, since it opened in Hong Kong in 1960 (changing its name from ‘Singapore’ to ‘Indonesian Restaurant’) it has retained its authentic charm through its ingredients, original recipes and the fact it’s still a family-run business.
To test this claim we tried a selection of dishes from various menu sections. From the salads; Gado Gado Salad with chicken in a mild satay sauce and extra crunchy prawn crackers! Traditionally eaten as a main dish, it has been adapted to suit current dining habits, and is now offered as a starter course.
From the Signature menu we tried; Ikan Asam and Nasi Goreng. The Ikan Asam is a Sour and Spicy Fish Dish, with filleted fish pieces lightly fried, served in a sweet and spicy, garlicky sauce with a very subtle taste of banana flower, and very moreish. The Nasi Goreng, a very traditional Indonesian dish that’s also popular with the regulars, was also a winner. It comes in a fabulous, heavy stone pot and is decorated with banana leaf and a giant prawn cracker. It includes two marinated chicken skewers, a perfectly cooked egg that’s a little runny inside, and most importantly - moist rice. Everything is cooked in their homemade peanut sauce and shrimp paste, which makes it a great tasting dish and not too overpowering on the palate, but it’s fairly heavy going on the stomach, so share the starters if you want to finish it!
We also tried the Beef Tenderloin Satay Skewers, which were as the name implies; really tender and the rich, sticky BBQ sauce was finger-lickin’ good! The Ayam Panggang; Grilled Spring Chicken cooked in IR’s own Javenese sweet and mild BBQ sauce was tasty, but there were some clear prizewinners on the menu.
These included two surprises which were the Lidah Semur – Grilled Ox Tongue with Javenese Steak Sauce and the Nasi Kuning Campur – Yellow Ginger Rice. The ginger flavour is strong, but if you like that, then this one is for you. The rice was just sticky enough, lovely and sweet with hints of lemongrass. And finally the Ox Tongue. If you can handle the name then order it. Each piece is served on top of a chunky potato slice, topped with a tomato slice, and comes smothered in divine, beefy garlic gravy that’s slightly sweet and typical of traditional Javenese cuisine. The meat is