Friday, June 20, 2008

The greatest chili sauce

Our first day at Margo Utomo, I had to finish writing a story, so I stayed behind when everyone else went out on a plantation tour. I was done by noon so I rewarded myself with a walk to town to look for lunch. And that's where I had one of the world's great chili sauces.


As far as I could tell, it was just perfectly ripe chilis and perfectly ripe tomatoes, crushed in a mortar and pestle. Maybe a little salt. What else do you need? The woman who ran the restaurant would make a small batch every time someone came in. She brought it out right in the shallow wooden bowl where she'd just pounded it.


It was a little roadside restaurant, and in the usual fashion there were about half a dozen bowls sitting on the counter, shielded by plastic covers to keep the flies out. You could ladle yourself some rice from the rice cooker and then take as much or little of anything as you wanted. They had a very tasty curried vegetable dish with unripe jackfruit, and I never even got around to sampling the mountain of fried shrimp. I left wondering how many other amazing chili sauces were lurking in humble eateries in Kalibaru.

5 comments:

nadya said...

Uhm.. you should've given a "Not Safe For Work" disclaimer for this story. I'm all drooling on my keyboard now and I believe the mere mention of chilli sauce is entirely responsible for that.

Its been awhile since I had a really good chilli sauce.

Do you like Manado food? They're only the most bestest Indonesian (or Asian or ANY COUNTRY) food in existence, hugely for the fact that Manadonese make the best no-bullshit killer chilli sauce ever and generously smear them all over everything (Padang food is a close second though). They're all over town! God I do miss JakCity sometimes.

kopisusu2 said...

I'm glad my super-low-rez camera phone pictures were enough to make you drool, Nadya! But you're right, the mere memory of good sambal will probably do it.

We haven't been to Manado yet, but I can't wait, because I love the food. It's not just hot; it's TASTY hot, with all sorts of tangy and herby flavors. Have you been to Beautika in Jakarta? I've only been once, and they were basically out of food, so I have to go back. It's supposed to be the best Manadonese food in town.

What tragic place are you living in that has no good chili sauce?

nadya said...

Yes I have eaten at Byutika a few times, and though they do serve great food (must try: salmon rica2 pedes) they can also be quite pricey. The real Manadonese food jewels (as is the case with any type of food in Jakarta) are the ones off the beaten path (sortof speak). The small pinggir-jalan restaurants / warung tenda with crappy plastic chairs and word of mouth based popularity.

The ones on top of my head are Camu2 (the same class as Byutika) in SCBD next to automall, Woku-Woku - Artha Gading Mall, Dabu-dabu - Karang Tengah Lebak Bulus (very popular), CakTuCi - Panglima Polim, Tinoor Langoan - Lapangan Tembak Senayan, a few at Ambassador Mall etc etc. They're all one google search away anyway.

Which Manadonese Restaurants have you tried? we should compare notes!

My saliva glands are begging me to quit typing now, so I shall.

mr_john said...

As much as I like Butika, I must mention the terrible paniki I had there... Although, I don't know if it was a particularly terrible batch or if bat was just not meant to be eaten by humans... I suspect the latter.

kopisusu2 said...

Yes, we've been to Chamoe-Chamoe a couple of times; the first meal was amazing but the second was just so-so. I've been to the Dabu-Dabu at Senayan City many a time; there's a similar stand at the Semanggi food court that's pretty good, and I've definitely had some great Manadonese at Ambassador. I'll have to check out the one near the Senayan shooting range, since that's close to us.

As to your bad experience, John, I'd say getting friendly with the fruit bat in East Java definitely made me even less interested in eating bat. When we get to Manado someday, I think I'll just ask for a double order of bunga pepaya and leave the bats alone.