Java House

Asian delicacies dominate the menu at Lotus Asian Cafe

Kecap manis is the stuff that makes nasi goreng, or Indonesian fried rice, look so brown and taste so savory-sweet, mixed as it is with chicken or shrimp, or lamb if you please. That savory-sweet taste is also found in the crispy-brown ayam goreng kalasan, Javanese twice-cooked chicken, braised with palm sugar. Whereas the ayam goreng kuning is a sweet-spicy-hot chicken, the sweet part of that combination comes from coconut milk, another favorite ingredient in Indonesian eats.

But the two entrees I delight in most are the rendang, or red curry beef, and the gulai kambing, or spicy lamb curry. The rendang is served on a plate as nice-sized chunks of beef encrusted with a deep brown, almost flaky sauce of coconut and spices. The merest mention of it makes me drool. Even hotter is the gulai kambing, served in a bowl, almost as a soup, with small bits of lamb ribs and lamb meat and a dozen or more different spices. Unlike anything else on the menu, the gulai kambing explodes like Chinese fireworks in your mouth.

Cool down with a giant bowl of es campur. Described on the menu as "assorted tropical fruits drink," it's really an ice cream-like mlange of shaved ice, jellied palm fruit, and lychee-like rambutans. A splendid creation, full of candied surprises, the es campur is one of those items for which folks come all the way from towns like Peoria. I don't blame them, though you can bet your grandma's bloomers that whenever I visit Lotus, I'll be ingesting quite a bit more.

Family affair: Three generations serve up the Indo-eats. From left, Ali Lie (grandpa), chef Abraham Indradjaja, his wife, Lielis Ali, and daughter Evelyn.
Jackie Mercandetti
Family affair: Three generations serve up the Indo-eats. From left, Ali Lie (grandpa), chef Abraham Indradjaja, his wife, Lielis Ali, and daughter Evelyn.

Details

Gado-gado: $6.75
Rendang (red curry beef) : $7.95
Chicken satay: $8.45
Es campur (shaved ice dessert): $3.50
1076 West Chandler Boulevard (northwest corner of Alma School Road and Chandler Boulevard), Chandler

480 -855-5258. Hours: Wednesday through Monday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; closed Tuesday

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