I’ve sorely been missing makanan Indonesia for a while now, so when I got wind of a new Indonesian place opening right in front of the Indonesian embassy in Makati, I just had to check it out. Fortunately, two other foodie friends had the exact same idea, so off I went to meet with them on a lovely Sunday morning, ready for a heavy brunch. You really can’t miss Restoran Garuda, situated along Salcedo street, with the its simple red, black and white sign, modern graffiti murals, and the industrial-looking space you can admire form the street.
We all met in front of the restaurant a few minutes before it opened its doors, and were chatting about how good the food must really be if they had the gall to open right across their own embassy. It’s also a pretty smart move on their part, since i figure their major source of customers would be the people visiting the embassy and maybe stopping by on their way home or for a quick lunch break. After finally being ushered in and settling down, we ordered a whole bunch of favorites off the menu and caught up with each other while sipping on Teh Botol (₱85), an Indonesian brand of Jasmine iced tea.
First out was our order of Ayam Sate (₱290) Jakarta’s most popular street food, these char-grilled skewers are marinated in traditional herbs and spices then smothered in their signature peanut sauce, and topped with fried shallots. These little skewers are addicting! Smoky, sweet, nutty, and spicy all at the same time, this is one appetizer you definitely shouldn’t pass up.
Mee Goreng (₱290) is a fairly simple, straightforward dish, and is another popular street food staple along the streets of Jakarta. Stir-fried egg noodles tossed in spices, vegetables, and chicken, topped with a fried egg and krupuk make for a meal or heavy snack on its own. This Indonesian one-dish meal tastes exactly like something I would enjoy at a warung in Bali – definitely as authentic as one could get.
I had never had Ayam Kremas (₱395) before, but after reading the description on the menu and it being highly recommended by our server, we figured we’d give it a shot. This is definitely not your ordinary fried chicken, and I’d want to get myself a bucket of the stuff the next time I come round! Kremas is chicken seasoned with Balinese spices before being fried and topped with crunchy flakes. We all ended up fighting over the crunchy flakes, it was so good!
To go with our dishes and bowls of steamed rice, we had Perkadel Jagung (₱165), which translate to corn fritters. Crisp on the outside while staying soft on the inside, Restoran Garuda’s version is creamy, with the chili condiments adding their southeast Asian influence on the South American siding.
Lastly, we all tucked into the Daging Rendang (₱375) and it was stellar! Albeit, a bit small for the portion size, Garuda’s signature dish with tender beef simmered in fresh coconut milk and traditional Indonesian spices cooked for hours is hot and savory, with the chunks of beef having absorbed all of the marinate flavor, the coconut milk in the saucy dish simmered down until only the oil remained. We all ended up with an extra order of rice. They also have a Vegetarian (₱375) and a chicken or Ayam (₱395) variation, for those who choose not to eat beef.
For dessert, I also found the portion sizes on the small side for what you pay for. The Salted Caramel Cake (₱220), while impressive looking on the menu, is shorter than than most personal-sized moist chocolate cakes, its saving grace being the lush salted caramel fudge it was covered in. Either that, or I’m just a huge chocoholic and sharing a personal-sized cake doesn’t leave me with enough to savor.
The Pandan Cake (₱220) was something new. A refreshingly light and fluffy chiffon cake infused with pandan essence, I liked that it hit just the right balance, the pandan not being too overpowering. I was expecting flavors similar to that of what you’d get with pandan iced tea, but this was quite toned down, and I quite enjoyed it at the end of the day.
Everything at Restoran Garuda was enak sekali (very delicious) and I’ll definitely keep coming back to try more of the food! There are around three Indonesian restaurants I know of in Makati, but this tops the list, with authentic flavors that pander to the Indonesian in Metro Manila – Filipinos will just have to adjust to the heat. After we wrapped up lunch, we heard there was an food market happening at the embassy and headed there for some chocolate cheese martabak for dessert.
Restauran Garuda is located at the Beneficial Life Building, 166 Salcedo Street, Legaspi Village, Makati City and is open from Monday to Saturday from 11am to 10pm. For inquiries and to make a reservation, please call +63 2 824 3440.