Thursday, April 14, 2011

Kalimantan (Borneo) Food at Little London Cafe (Alhambra, CA)

As an Indonesian food blogger, I try to make my way to all the Indonesian restaurants in town, albeit slowly. When Wandering Chopsticks told me about the Kalimantan (the Indonesian word for Borneo) menu at Little London Cafe in Alhambra (formerly, and pretty much still is, a fish and chips place), I was pretty excited since Kalimantan food is a hard find. The LA Times beat me to the punch, but I feel that there is still some explaining I can do about the food here.

#1: Nasi Campur Kalimantan ($7.25) / Kalimantan Mixed Rice
babi merah panggang, ayam goreng bumbu, sosis babi, telur rasa, timun
(roast pork/char siu, fried marinated chicken, pork sausage, marinated egg, cucumber)

Nasi Campur Kalimantan
Do those like char siu and chinese sausage to you? Many of the people I knew who had come here said the food was just like Chinese food. Well, that's because it is. There is a big population of Chinese people in Indonesia, and Kalimantan in particular has a big Teochew population (Teochew people come from the eastern region of Guangdong).

The key here is the gravy that's soaking the rice and the amazing fried chicken. I should have gotten the half chicken,but luckily the fried chicken here is as ubiquitous as rice. In fact, it ended up being in all three dishes we ordered. No complaint, though, the chicken was juicy, the skin just the right combination of crispy and fatty.

The other dishes are more decidedly Indonesian rather than Chinese.

#3: Nasi Melayu Kal-Bar
($6.99) / West Kalimantan Malay Rice (Kal-Bar is shorthand for Kalimantan Barat, i.e. West Kalimantan)
Ayam goreng, telur gulai, ikan kacang, timun
(fried chicken, curried egg, peanuts and anchovies in sambal, cucumber - and it's not listed but there's obviously tofu, too)
I ended up enjoying the cut-up pieces of chicken in #1 better because the skin was fattier, but this was a great dish to order. More chicken, and the anchovies and peanuts in sambal is always a great accompaniment for rice. The "curried egg" was actually the same as the marinated egg in the other dish.

They ran out of the beef soup so we got the Soto Ayam Pot ($6.99) / Chicken Soup
nasi, ayam goreng bumbu, tomat, kol, daun bawang, bawang goreng, kerupuk
(rice, fried marinated chicken, cabbage, green onions, fried shallots, shrimp crackers)
Soto Ayam Pot
Soto is chicken soup made with various spices (the yellow color of the soup comes from turmeric). The fried chicken appears here again. No complaint, still, but they sure do maximize the use of their ingredients and it seems a bit silly to dump fried chicken in a soup but at least the marinade adds a nice flavor. The soto is pretty similar to what I get in my hometown in Java except for the tomatoes. They do a pretty good version here, though I miss the stronger flavors of Soto Ambengan.

Crysanthemum Tea
Tea with whole crysanthemum leaves
The menu here is pretty small, but a good Indonesian restaurant is always a welcome addition. Their rujak kalimantan (fruit and vegetable salad with peanut sauce) is supposed to be authentic and rare in this part of the world, but unfortunately they ran out when I was there, as was the beef soup, but they were getting hit by the post-LA Times crowd. I plan on coming back when the crowd settles and try the other items. Or at least have more fried chicken.

Little London Cafe
19 S Garfield Ave
Alhambra, CA 91801
(626) 282-4477
Little London Fish & Chips on Urbanspoon


Wandering Chopsticks

Next time you go, hopefully I'll be free to join you. Although that's two Indonesian restaurants in Alhambra that I pointed out to you that I still haven't gone! Ha!

Food Marathon

I'm in for all 3.

Kung Food Panda

I pass by this place all the time. Thx for the write up!

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