Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Manja Resto - CLOSED

Open only two weeks at the time, I walked into a fairly empty restaurant when I decided to have lunch at Manja Resto, a new Indonesian restaurant. Missing Paradiso, also an Indonesian restaurant, that closed and was replaced by Manja, a part of me was worried that I wouldn't get the same quality dishes that I used to get before. So with some trepidation, I took a look at the menu and placed my order.

Not wanting to stick to my usual standbys of satay, nasi goreng (fried rice) or the beef rendang, I decided to try some new dishes that I've never had before.

First up was the Telur Balado which are fried boiled eggs with spicy sauce. While I tend to be more of a soft-boiled egg person myself and found the inside of the egg a little dry (go figure, it is boiled and fried, of course, it'll be a little dry), I still really enjoyed this dish. I counter-acted the dryness of the egg by slathering it with the chili sauce and it was delicious and wonderfully spicy. As an after thought, I could easily imagine frying bacon, chopping these eggs and mixing the whole thing with rice and just eating that out of a bowl. Now that's the breakfast of champions!

The second dish was the BBQ Chicken that was marinated with sweet soy sauce and hot chili sauce. Apparently, the hotter the better is how people tend to like this dish, according to the owner, but I decided to stay with "medium heat." What I liked about this dish was the layers of sweet, salty and chili flavors. When you first take a bite of the chicken, you get the sweet first, but as you chew, you get a little bit of that salt and than finally, a bit of heat. I also liked how the chicken was soft and moist.

The last dish was the Ketoprak, a dish made up rice stick noodles, bean sprouts, fried tofu with garlic peanut sauce and crackers. The Ketoprak was a bit of a harder sell for me. I liked the flavor of the peanut sauce, but I found the sauce consistency really, really thick. The delicate rice noodles stuck together in clumps and when I took a bite, it felt like I was chewing and chewing, as if I had a clump of peanut butter in my mouth.

I actually asked the owner about it and she said that the thick consistency of that peanut sauce is a preference of the Indonesian palate. Since I've never had a dish before that is served with this peanut sauce at other Indonesian restaurants I've been to, I'll have to take her word for it.

Served with my meal was the El Teler dessert drink that I ordered that had avocado, jackfruit, coconut milk and was topped with condensed milk and syrup. Given the heat and the intense flavor of the dishes I've been eating, this dessert drink was nice and cooling. I didn't care too much for the large chunks of ice in the bowl. It just seems like there should be a better way for this to be served cold, but how can you go wrong with those sweet, refreshing ingredients.

Overall, I liked my meal at Manja Resto and am looking forward to trying even more dishes and in doing so, may even one day raise my 3-star rating to something higher.

To see pics, go to:

Manja Resto
1206 E Huntington Dr #A
Duarte, CA 91010
(626) 359-7564

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