Spotlight: Satay Junction

Inspired by flavors of the street food of Jakarta, “Satay Junction” is the only authentic Indonesian restaurant in the city, as other ones don’t feature street food. Therefore, if you’re in the mood to have something completely different for lunch or dinner, here is a great place for you to do so. The food has a distinctive unusual taste for an average New Yorker, but it’s fresh and palatizing, so it’s definitely worth trying.

If you are unfamiliar with Indonesian food, you may think of it as of Thai food, but made with different spices. Indonesians use a lot of lemon grass, candle nut, peanuts and coconut milk. The food comes out spicy (if desired) and sweet at the same time. Sweetness is especially pungent in desserts and drinks.

By the way, the drinks can be your desserts as well, as they taste like candy. For instance, Es Teller, which reminds you of a milkshake (but not blended) with soft coconut taste created by coconut milk and pieces of young coconut floating inside along with seaweed jelly and sweet jack fruit you can chew on. This drink is great as a last chord of your lunch or dinner or its sweet beginning you can indulge yourself in while you are waiting for your meal.

the variety of Satays you choose from

Speaking of meals, when one thinks of Indonesian food, first thing on his/her mind is probably, a Satay, small appetizing pieces of meat marinated and cooked on a stick with various seasonings. No wonder that this item is the most popular in “Satay Junction,” as the restaurant was originally created as a place where customers can savor famous Indonesian Satays.

Since there are a lot of Muslims among Indonesians, it is not guaranteed that you will find a pork Satay on the streets of the capital, although Jakarta is pretty diverse, and everything is possible. However, vegetable and tofu Satays are the invention of chef Raj Dodani especially for his vegetarians and vegan New York City customers. You can also find shrimp and lamb Satays in “Satay Junction,” so whatever meat (or non-meat) you prefer, you will find it here cooked to perfection and served with delicious homemade peanut sauce that you will keep wiping and licking from you plate untill the last drop of it disappears in your mouth.

Two great side dishes for Satays are Nasi Goreng (fried rice) or Mee Goreng (pan seared fried noodles). These sides may be served as an addition to your meal, with vegetables or tofu pieces, or as a separate dish, with any choice of meat you desire.

Besides Satays, there are other flavorful dishes on the menu. Try Gado Gado, steamed vegetables served as a cold salad with medium-spicy peanut sauce. The first thing that gets at your taste buds once you try Gado Gado is the freshness of the peanut sauce. It is amazing and a bit spicy. The vegetables are cold and juicy, and the flavors of the dish are not too strong.

A great snack when it’s hot outside, Gado Gado is one of those dishes that you can buy from a Jakarta woman who walks the streets of the city with a basket of vegetables and makes her fresh peanut sauce right in front of you. The refreshing taste of the dish is a light start for the meal, and it’s great if you are a vegetarian or even vegan. You may ask to have tofu in it if you want to get protein in addition to a full serving of veggies.

And yes, if you are a student, here is a lunch and dinner special for you: $9.99 for a side of fried rice or noodles with any 2 skewers and a soda – great student discount for tasty authentic meal, something that is worth trying, at least, once.

However, if these Indonesian street delicacies don’t sound too enticing to you, and you crave a burger instead, “Satay Junction” has it for you here as well. Ask for the specialty burger with a homemade patty marinated with Indonesian spices on a bun with peanut sauce. There is a side of Gado Gado that comes with it, all for $10 only. It’s a great lunch special for students who are watching their students savings when it comes to food. It’s a filling, yummy and inexpensive meal you can take a break for in between your classes.

In addition to regular menu, there are specials changing from day to day and curries from various regions of Indonesia. There are also catering services and prix fixe menus. For instance, Pijsttaffel from chef Dodani (which is translated as “rice table”) is a set meal for only $35. You choose the main entry and get an omelette, corn fritters, seasonal greens and yellow rice with it. This “rice table” serves two people, and it’s a great deal for the large amount of food offered. You can also ask for a prix fixe menu for your private party. You pay one set price, and the food keeps coming out from the kitchen until you beg them to stop. The closed events usually take place later in the evening, after 9.30, or can be arranged earlier if it’s a weekday. Catering for office lunches and student parties are cool as well.

simple & tasteful

As the restaurant is quite small, you will not host a large party in it, no more than 15-20 people. “Satay Junction” is a great place for a meal, neat and tiny, almost like a cozy home for flavorful Indonesian food. The design of the place is unpretentious. The tables are mostly for two people, and there are beautiful pictures on the walls that bring about ethnic spirit of Indonesian art. Aside from that, there are no more decorations, which leaves the impression that the restaurant is simple and tasteful.

Ekaterina Lalo

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