Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Ramayani Westwood - Los Angeles

You know how many LA restaurants can say it's been around 30 years? Not many. You know how many LA Indonesian restaurants can claim the same thing? Even fewer.

Ramayani is one of them, if it isn't the only one.

It opened in 1983. To put that into perspective, when it first served its first plate of nasi goreng and satay, Return of the Jedi was in theaters. Not the remastered and redigitized crap with Hayden Christensen inserted between Alec Guinness and Yoda, but the original old school film. On celluloid. In 2D.

Since that time, LA has seen a lot of Indonesian restaurants come and go like so many failed sitcoms. I remember a few. There was a restaurant called Ratu that specialized in a mahogany-hued and sugary-sweet Indonesian fried chicken. In Irwindale there was a place that made one of the best renditions of gudeg outside of Yogjakarta. There was once even an outlet of Bakmi Gadja Mada somewhere in the San Gabriel Valley, though its affiliation to the Jakarta noodle institution was unconfirmed by me before it, too, went belly up.

Why such a high failure rate for Indonesian restaurants? The same reason why this post will be one of my least read--there just aren't enough Indonesians to keep Southern California's few Indonesian restaurants afloat.

Ramayani, on the other hand, is a rock, sustained through the ages by people like me but most likely college exchange students who probably heard about it back when they were still in Indonesia. ("Psst, if you want Indonesian food while you're there, there's this place in LA.")

Though this was my first visit, I get the feeling the dishes haven't changed in at least a decade, if ever. The Nasi Rames, the usual starter dish for those new to the cuisine but also one of my favorite gauges of an Indo joint, is exactly as I expect, and tastes like a sampler platter, with a curried chicken drumstick, long-simmered beef rendang, sambal telor (hard boiled egg topped with a chili-tomato sauce), and a few other dishes piled around a dome of rice.

Ramayani does the dish well, but also remains one of the few places that offer rijsttafle for about $30 per person, which probably brings in the ex-pat Dutch people more than anything else.

For these reasons I expect Ramayani will last another thirty years. If not that, then certainly longer than this blog, which will reach its 10 year mark in about a month and thus the perfect time for its retirement. If I do decide to shut this sucker down, fewer people will weep for it than if Ramayani were to close tomorrow.

Ramayani Westwood
1777 Westwood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90024
(310) 477-3315

Lark Creek - Newport Beach


At 9:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for you review Elmo, this looks legit

Have you been to Java Spice? It appears to be sticking around after these years and to me as a non Indo the food is great :)

At 9:06 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Ah, yes! Java Spice! Problem is I'm not sure if I have tried it or haven't. I plain just can't remember! Which is very strange for me.

I do remember hearing it's good though.

At 4:31 AM, Anonymous WeFlipBurgers said...

Let me help you. Unfortunately, neither one mentions what you ate at Java Spice. Ayam Kalasan?

At 4:38 AM, Anonymous WeFlipBurgers said...

Let me help you. Unfortunately, neither one mentioned what you ate at Java Spice. Ayam Kalasan? Probably Soto Ayam?

At 1:34 PM, Blogger Julie Nguyen said...

Elmo, I love your blog!

At 5:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have many more followers than you think. I religiously look forward to your posts and try places you liked. I know I am a ghost here but have been appreciating you work for many years. So please keep em coming! What would I have to look forward to?


At 8:19 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Ah! Thank you! When my memory fails me, my readers don't! Now, can you tell me what I tried? HAHA!


Thank you!!!


Well, I'm flattered! I'll keep it going as long as I can! For you!

At 2:25 AM, Anonymous Gregg said...

Dude! Don't retire the blog!

I don't even remember how I stumbled upon it, but it's basically how I became a "foodie" and it also helped me to woo my then-girlfriend now-wife!

At 1:24 PM, Blogger Wandering Chopsticks said...

You know your blog was one of the first ones I read, and what nudged me to start food blogging long ago. I hit my seventh year. More often not blogging these days, but I have all these pictures sitting in my laptop.

Have you been to Wong Java Restaurant in Alhambra? Let me know if you want to try it since it's near me.

At 3:54 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Well shucks! That may be the best thing I've ever read in a comment left on this blog. Thank you! And how can I even consider not doing this after you said that? :-)

At 9:46 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Wandering Chopsticks,

Sorry for the late reply. Blogger is so wonky! I didn't see your comment was sitting there waiting to be approved!

Thanks for the vote of confidence! I definitely want to try Wong Java! I had no idea it existed!


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