Friday, January 20, 2012 at 8:33 a.m.
Owners Pieter and Ineke offer a Dutch-Indonesian home, even though it's not on the menu
All photos by Alex Rodriguez
estaurant options in Miami Beach? The most obvious choices are over-priced-and-tourist-laden Lincoln Road, south of 5th street for the "seen and be seen" evening scene, and Washington Avenue for the usual pizza and burger joints. But where's the fun in the regulars, though? Hint: there isn't any.
Enter the delightfully quaint Indomania on the corner of Collins and 26th Street.... tucked behind a sketchy convenience store-err... cafe, of sorts. You could miss it, but perhaps that's why it was named New Times Best Under-The-Radar Restaurant in 2008. With just a few blips on the radar since, we thought we'd pop in to see if it still made the cut.
Greeted by a waiter with all smiles, we were seated right away in one of about 30 seats at most. He quickly offered the menu, recommendations and wine.
We opted for the Rijsttafel Sumatra. At $28 per person, it was described to us as the "more flavorful and spicier" tasting menu. Bring on the heartburn and stomach aches.
Within ten minutes of ordering, our waiter, Ricky, came back equipped with a slew of small plates and bowls. The hot dishes were placed on our very own hot plates (something of a Bunsen Burner, but fancier) while the room temperature and cold dishes were sporadically placed around the table.
The meal as a whole was quite good, but if we had to fit most of this particular tasting menu's dishes into two categories, we could.
The favorites: sate ayam (grilled chicken skewer with peanut sauce), gulai telur (boiled egg in curry sauce), sambal buncis (crispy, spiced string beans), gado gado (salad with string beans, cabbage and tofu), acar ketimoen (sweet and sour cucumber) and rujak manis (Indonesian fruit salad of apples and sweet soy sauce).
The least favorites: ayam besengek (boneless chicken in mild coconut curry), and rendang padang (beef stew in spiced coconut sauce).
While the favorites were outright divine, the least favorites simply lacked seasoning. It doesn't mean they weren't good - someone (like myself, who prefers less to more) would most likely enjoy the simple chicken and beef dishes. On the other hand, someone (like my dinner partner who prefers over seasoned to under), found them unappetizing.
Aside from the minor table discrepancies, what really caught our eye about the place was the service. Husband and wife owned, Pieter and Ineke Both really put their effort into making Indomania a comfortable, family-oriented space. Pieter did not step off the floor for a second throughout our entire duration there. His genuine appreciation and adoration for his guests was the most obvious part of the evening - what's more, we're almost positive they were all strangers to him, strangers that were treated like family.
"We started five years ago just with Ineke in the kitchen and me in the front as a server and now it's four in the kitchen and four in the front and we're packed every night," said owner Pieter, "this is what I love to do". It shows.