My wife and I tried Tasik Indonesian in Northbridge the other night for a spur-of-the-moment dinner. We were greatly encouraged by the stellar 92% Urban Spoon rating. Is it deserved? Sort of. The food is good. Yep, a food blog with such insightful and informative statements as "the food is good". But it is good food, and so if you ate there you'd most likely 'like it' on Urban Spoon. But is it good Indonesian food? Not so much (with this statement tempered to a degree because it has been many years since I was in Indonesia).
The restaurant setting is great. It's an old house on Aberdeen street, with colourful but faded decor, well worn floor boards, and casual but neat and smartish table settings. It almost feels a bit Mexican. Service from our waitress was friendly and helpful, although she was a little hard to catch at times. They were out of the first dish I ordered, which was a bit disappointing, but there are plenty of other choices.
We ordered Fried Chicken (Ayam Goreng), Beef Rendang, Gado Gado, and steamed rice to soak up the sauce. Staple, unadventurous, familiar Indonesian dishes. The sort of dishes we could cook well ourselves (maybe not the deep fried chicken) but would expect to be that bit more authentic, that bit better, at an Indonesian restaurant. It turns out we probably could have matched or surpassed these dishes at home.
Maybe we couldn't have matched the Fried Chicken:
It was actually really tasty, with a faultless blend of spices and seasoning. It was, however, also very dry. It wasn't inedible or unpleasant, but if it was juicy and tender inside it would have been a stand-out dish. The flavours were spot on. The accompanying chilli sauce deserves special mention. It was searingly hot (really!) and the shrimp and lime flavours were also strong. Great stuff, although too hot for Yokey.
The Beef Rendang was not up to the standard of the chicken:
On the plus side, they hadn't used Ayam Brand beef rendang paste. Nothing wrong with Ayam Brand beef rendang paste, it's actually very good, but you don't want to be eating it at a restaurant (except for maybe a budget establishment). And some restaurants DO use it! This was either an in-house curry, or a pre-made paste with which I am not familiar.
As a casserole or stew, this dish would be alright. But it had minimal spice, no heat, no kick, and was dominated by coconut. The sauce was thick and rich, good with rice, and if it was sold as a generic stewed beef, it would be acceptable. But a Rendang is supposed to be, you know... Rendang.
The Gado Gado was also not quite right:
As far as I know, Gado Gado is supposed to be plain steamed or boiled vegetables served with satay sauce. These vegies were sloppy and wet, as though they had been stir-fried together. They were then smothered with a diluted and insipid excuse for a satay sauce, and accompanied by a few strange and stale 'crackers'.
As a vegetatble stir-fry it wasn't completely terrible. But, again, you call the dish Gado Gado and expectations are raised.
This review is pretty harsh, in that the meal wasn't awful. Serves were small, but the three dishes and rice were more than enough for the two of us (we took a small take-away container home). The dishes tasted fresh and healthy (can deep fried chicken be considered healthy?). Pricing was very fair, at $46 for the two of us, and even fairer as we used the Entertainment Book. We might even go back. But not for Indonesian.