Monday, March 19, 2018

Rinjani - Glendale

I tried a new Indonesian restaurant this weekend. But I should've known it wasn't meant for me.

Here, instead of grimy tabletops and warbly Indo pop that are often fixtures of a typical SoCal Indonesian hole-in-the wall, there was Pottery Barn furnishings and eclectic jazz as soundtrack.

The prices reflect the atmosphere. And when I ordered the soto ayam for $13.95, it came with no rice. Instead this turmeric-tinted chicken soup of my youth--the food I fondly remember eating in Semarang street stalls for breakfast and still routinely enjoy at mom's--is served in a big bowl meant to emulate pho.

It tasted as good as it should. And although I found what seemed only about a tablespoon's worth of shredded chicken meat, it was at least garnished with emping, slightly bitter crackers made from melinjo, a bean-like seed of a plant only an Indonesian could love.

The other dish I tried that day was the siomay Bandung, which can be equated to dim sum. Unfortunately, I liked this dish even less than the soto. The siomai was so dense with flour it was almost like eating hardened PlayDoh that happened to taste fishy. Potatoes, boiled cabbage, and hard-boiled egg rounded out the plate, all of it drenched with a peanut sauce that lacked depth and sweetness.

It's a pity that the restaurant did not serve nasi rames and nasi uduk when I was there. It does so only on weekdays as a lunch special. It also offers a rijsttafel, which is more a Dutch colonial thing. Here it's done as a prix fixe for $24.95 per person, where everyone in your party has to order it.

If I'm being very critical here, it's because I grew up with this kind of food and know it by heart. I'm pre-wired to have strong opinions; but it doesn't mean that I'm not glad Rinjani is here. The more exposure the food of the world's fourth most populous country gets, the better. And it will take the more accessible higher-end places like this to make the cuisine more familiar to virgin palates, of which there are many.

So go, you Indonesian food virgins! Get your cherries popped, even if it's just with the nasi goreng!

107 E Broadway
Glendale, CA 91205
(818) 546-1273

Cambalache - Fountain Valley


At 1:18 PM, Blogger NP said...

Good to see more Indonesian Choices. Was at Indo Ranch this last week in Lake Forest, had my normal Beef Rendang and Sate Ayam - seems the chef/cooks there have been making an extra effort. Found the beef much more tender than ever before (like I'd get in Indonesia) - and the Sate was proper smaller chunks of chicken and the correct balance of peanut sauce and soy. Heck, loce their ziploc bag of krupuk udang too!!

At 1:15 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

I totally need to go back there. It definitely sounds like they're upping their game from the last time I visited. Admittedly, at the time, they weren't really a restaurant yet: just a grocery store that happened to cook random dishes, which were packed and stored in the fridge. Thanks for the update!


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