Fried chicken with fresh chilli sauce $9
Ayam goreng shalom
"What about that one?" asks A, as we stare slack-jawed at the pictorial menu above our heads.
"But that's grilled chicken, not fried..." I reply, in confusion.
A look of panic flashes across his face. "Oh no, we don't want grilled. We only want fried."
I nod, and silently breathe a sigh of relief.
Deep fried tofu $4
Because really, who doesn't love fried? I know I do.
We're at Shalom on Broadway, serving cheap and cheerful Indonesian fare to homesick university students and a handful of curious passersby. More cafeteria than restaurant, the emphasis is on value, not decor.
Orders are placed at the counter, using the pictorial menu above the kitchen. Help yourself to cutlery, serviettes and a range of chilli sauces and condiments.
We start with a plate of deep-fried tofu that is delivered to our table in a cereal-sized bowl. The fat cubes of tofu, crispy, golden and chewy on the outside, have been drenched with a thick peanut sauce and sweet kecap manis. For a dish that only costs $4, the serving is huge and seemingly never-ending.
Fried chicken with Balinese sauce $9
There are plenty of non-chilli options on the menu -- beef rendang, chicken steak and fried steak with rojak sauce -- but today we're after a chilli-induced endorphin rush. We share two plates of chicken - both fried. The fried chicken with Balinese sauce has been marked with four chillis; the fried chicken with fresh chilli (top photo) has five. The Balinese sauce is salty and spicy, pungent with garlic and shrimp paste, the chicken pieces accompanied by a hard boiled egg sliced in two.
I'm pleased with my chilli tolerance until I dig my fork into the fried chicken with fresh chilli. After two mouthfuls, my tongue is on fire. It is burning hot, a kind of pain I haven't felt since I was a non-chilli-eating child.
"We need ice kacang, " I intone, with all seriousness.
Durian Ice $5
Durian ice is half-drink and half-dessert, a mountain of shaved ice drizzled with sweet condensed milk. Shovel your way beneath the icy terrain to find plump segments of durian, although really, your nose would have already alerted you to its existence.
Admittedly durian is an acquired taste, but I've never quite understood the comparisons between durian and the smell of rubbish. It has a strong smell, but it's more of a floral, over-ripe tropical fruit aroma.
The plump pods are a pale yellow colour and slightly fibrous. It tastes like a mixture of lychee, pineapple and jackfruit intensified to the power of ten, and then mixed with avocado.
We find a generous amount of durian hidden beneath, and relish its fatty richness.
Combination Ice with Durian $5
Es Campur Duren
Combination ice with durian comes with a mixture of jellies, cool and slippery. Other drinks include coconut ice, grass jelly, selasi ice (pomegranate and basil seeds) and cendol.
I can almost hear a sizzle as the ice melts on my chilli-ravaged tongue. Lips burning, nose-running and tongue pulsating, we temporarily extinguish the pain with ice, and then keep on eating. And happily so.
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155 Broadway, Ultimo, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9211 2353
Monday to Sunday 11am-9pm
Shop 2/458 Anzac Parade, Kingsford, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9662 4455
3/299 Sussex Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9264 1144
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9/16/2010 02:07:00 a.m.