Panda Peeks – Pondok Jawa Timur
Roll up, roll up. Panda Peeks is back and checking out another fantastic restaurant right here in Singapore. This time, we’re taking a short trip (metaphorically of course) to South East Asian neighbours, Indonesia. With over 18,000 islands and the world’s 4th largest population (made up of more than 300 ethnic groups), Indonesian cuisine is always going to be one of the most interesting and varied. Dishes like Rendang, Nasi goreng and especially, satay have made the international jump and contribute to Indonesia’s growing reputation for culinary excellence, with the country holding spots #1, #2 and #14 on CNN’s World’s 50 Best Foods. And of course, a mention has to go to Nasi padang, Sumatra’s most famous export and a food that many Singaporeans cannot live without.
To sample some of Indonesia’s finest, we sent foodpanda Singapore’s Dylan and Geraldine to Pondok Jawa Timur. This traditional restaurant offering authentic halal Indonesian food since 2006 is located just off Victoria Street, with a smaller stall at One Raffles Place. With everything prepped by experienced Indonesian chefs and the promise of only fresh ingredients, expectations for a great meal were high. The first thing foodpanda crew noticed was the funky innovative lighting – like a maze of snakes crawling across the ceiling and the overall Indonesian feel to the restaurant.
The chef gave us some top recommendations for our review. So, on to the food:
1 | Starters
– Bakwan Jagung –
Sweetcorn, celery, shallots and spring onions
Kind of like savory biscuit, this is essentially a deep-fried corn fritter. Sure, it doesn’t look too appealing – almost like battered vomit (sorry!), but actually tastes delicious. According to the chef, this is one of the most popular snacks in Indonesia and it’s easy to see why – they’re a great size and simple to eat. You can imagine they get addictive very quickly.
Bean curd, spring onions and eggs for the omelette, and peanuts, garlic and tomatoes for the sauce
Reasonably common in Singapore, Pondok’s example is one of the best that you will find. For those not in the know, Tahu Telur is a kind of bean curd omelette topped with bean sprouts and dressing. The outside was crispy, contrasting beautifully with the soft, fluffy interior, but it was the slightly sweet and nutty sauce that made this extra special.
-Sate Ayam (Chicken Satay)-
Chicken on a stick!
The satay has got to be Indonesia’s most famous culinary export, making an appearance at a fair proportion of the world’s barbecues. Why is this snack so popular? Taste and convenience, just like all great fast foods. Pondok’s chicken satay was excellent – with chicken so tender, it almost fell of the stick and mildly-hot sticky sauce.
2 | Mains
-Gulai Ikan Kepala-
Red snapper, garlic, shallots and chilli
The Indonesian version of fish head curry is a worthy competitor to Singapore’s champion. With a little sugar added for a sweeter sauce to complement the fresh fish and chunky vegetables, this was an enticing start to the main courses.
-Nasi Kuning Set-
Yellow rice, chicken, beef, egg and potato
This set has it all (or at least everything you could want) with soft, juicy beef and chicken as well as fried egg and potato. This rice was so delicious it could be eaten alone. We might have a competitor here for Hainanese Chicken Rice (don’t shoot us, we’re just the messengers).
-Nasi Campur Surabaya-
White rice, curry chicken, fried shrimp, egg and sambal belacan
This set was similar to the last course, but with simple boiled rice, more vegetables, a hard boiled egg with sambal and curry chicken. Of course, everything with curry in is great (except maybe curry pizza – apparently it exists) and this set was no exception.
3 | foodpanda staff picks
We had high hopes for this restaurant and Pondok Jawa Timur didn’t let us down. So what was the best thing about the meal? Well, Dylan goes with the Nasi Kuning set on the strength of the most delicious fried chicken she’s ever eaten. Don’t let the well-known American fast food varieties guide your perception. If you haven’t tried real Indonesian fried chicken, you’ll want to soon.
But the real star of the show was the rich, intensely-flavoured Sambal Belacan (the essential condiment of Indonesian cooking made from chillis). Fortunately, Pondok sells their finest for $10 a jar, so you can take it home and have it with literally anything. The foodpanda office has been eating ours with keropok!
Pondok Jawa Timur Singapore
Address: 737 North Bridge Road
Opening hours: every day 11am – 10pm
Follow this link to order online.
See map below for directions:
Hailing from the South-West of England, David is passionate about writing and despite his country’s reputation for culinary ineptitude, also enjoys cooking and feasting. He spends his free time climbing up rocks, drinking scrumpy cider from a pint glass, kicking a ball around a pitch and screwing pieces of wood together (making furniture).