This is going to be my first food review on this blog and the first (of many) food reviews in 2018!
Indonesian food is my jam, though I am very biased being born in Jakarta, Indonesia. A lot of people over the years have asked me where they should go for Indonesian food and usually, I just tell them that there really aren’t any restaurants that serves authentic Indonesian food. Then I usually joke around and say you’d need to come to my house to try some.
Now, I know some of you might disagree and say that there are places in the GTA that serves good Indo food, but I would disagree. A lot of the restaurants that I’ve been to that serves “Indonesian Food”, serves more Malaysian food which is similar but not authentic Indonesian food. So I was extremely pleased when a new Indonesian restaurant opened up in Mississauga!
This restaurant is called Samara Kitchen – please see map below for location.
It’s a small, family run kitchen that serves in my opinion real authentic Indonesian food.
So a disclaimer: this place is really tiny and kind of in the middle of nowhere. You’ll think that you’re lost when you’re searching for the place, but you’re not really. The restaurant is surrounded by more industrial office spaces and when I say tiny, I mean tiny (there are only 3 tables available). So if you do go & I hope you do, I would suggest going these three routes: 1) Going at a non rush hour time (i.e. not at 12pm and not at 6pm). If you go on the off times, there’s a higher likelihood that you’ll find a spot there or else you’ll have to wait for awhile. 2) Calling ahead and making a reservation. I think this is honestly the best option. 3) Ordering take-out. Another option, though I prefer eating the food fresh out of the kitchen.
Now with regards to the menu and food to choose, they have a regular menu and also daily specials. Due to the fact that their daily specials change from time to time, I can only suggest the dishes that I’ve tried in the past or the ones that are in their regular menu. So below, I have made a list of our go-to dishes.
Note – Indonesian food is usually eaten family style. So typically you would have your own plate of rice (sometimes you get a giant bowl of communal rice which then you serve yourself) and then all the dishes, like the ones mentioned below, are put in the middle where you would then you serve yourself.
For those with food allergies & restrictions: Vegetarian options available and everything is Halal. There are a lot of peanut products associated with Indonesian food, so I would be very cautious if you are allergic to nuts.
Ayam Goreng and the Works (Daily Special…but it’s been there the past couple of months, so it’s pretty much on the regular menu).
This is my go-to Indonesian dish. This is the dish that I eat the most when I go back to Indonesia, because it is so good. And for those of you who have not had Indonesian food before, this is one of a few of good starter dish to ease you into the cuisine.
What is ayam goreng you ask? The literal translation is fried chicken, and well that’s exactly what it is. BUT when you think of fried chicken, you would usually think of KFC or Popeyes – chicken that is breaded and deep fried. Well friends, this is nothing like that. There is no breading on this chicken. The chicken is marinated with a bunch of different spices, including turmeric, and then its fried to a golden perfection. The outside is crispy, while the inside is still nice and moist.
So you can order dark meat (i.e. thigh) or white meat (breast) and it comes with rice, tempe (or known in North America as tempeh, a soy bean cake that’s been marinated and also fried), and some sort of Indonesian side soup that goes along perfectly with the chicken and rice. Now the other best part of this meal is the hot sauce that comes with the meal or known in Indonesian as sambal.
For those of you who can handle your spice and love spicy food, this sambal is one of the best I’ve tasted. Spicy and punches a lot of flavour; it goes so well with the chicken! Warning…I really do mean it when I say it’s spicy.
Literal translation of mie goreng is fried noodles. Now this is not your typical Asian fried noodles that you see at say a Chinese restaurant, the noodles and the spices used are different. It’s incredibly tasty, you’ll have to be the judge and let me know what you think!
Toge Ikan AsinHave you ever tried salted fish? If you have, especially at a Chinese restaurant, you would have probably had it in a fried rice dish of some sort. Or maybe even a vegetable dish. So toge is bean sprouts and ikan asin is salted fish, which are combined and stir fried together and makes this amazing yummy goodness.
Sate Or known in other Asian countries as satay, which is basically skewered meat. The meat can range from chicken, beef, pork to even rabbit, liver, and more. At Samara, they serve chicken or beef sate. I’ve always gone for the chicken sate and it’s delicious. The pieces are smaller than what I’ve usually had, but the taste is great and the meat is super juicy. If you’re into peanut sauce on your sate, don’t forget them to give you a small side of sauce!
Have you had corn fritters? That’s what bakwan jagung is! I’ve had plenty from super fluffy to super crispy. I’ve tried both kinds at Samara and they are both really great! If this is your first time trying corn fritters, I would try the crispy ones first. These are even more delicious with a little bit of sambal. If you’re interested in trying these when you go, I would call ahead and ask if they are serving any on that day as this is a special menu item!
These on the other hand are on the regular menu and the best way I can describe it is deep fried varieties of goodness. Wikipedia describes batagor as Sundanese Indonesian fried fish dumpling served usually with a peanut sauce. Batagor is an abbreviation of Bakso Tahu Goreng (Fried tofu and meatballs) and that’s pretty much what it is: fried stuffed tofu and fish paste dumplings/meatballs, served with a peanut sauce. In Samara they also serve their batagor with a side meatball soup which goes great with the fried offering. A wonderful appetizer to start your meal!
This my friends, is one of my favourite Indonesian snack foods (thought can also be eaten with rice, because us Indonesians can eat anything with rice). Martabak, originally an Arabic dish, is pretty much like a deep fried pancake. Some have compared it to roti. It’s served in many different countries with their own twist to it. In Indonesia, these goodies are usually called Martabak Telur (egg Martabak) which essentially best describes the dish because egg is added into the meat and herbs stuffing mixture.
This is not to be mistaken for Martabak Manis (sweet Martabak), the sweet version of this savoury dish. Where the outside layer of the Martabak Telur is thin and crispy, I would say the Manis is more like an actual pancake, but even more fluffy. I would often think of it as two very fluffy pancakes covered with a good dollop of margarine sandwich-ing a chocolate or cheese or peanut or sometimes all three layer. See it for yourself in this video.
The Martabak Telur is not on the regular menu, so make sure you call ahead to see if they are serving it on that day!
Gigantic stuffed meatball soup. That’s pretty much what Baso Rudal is and its lovely, especially to have on a cold day! And when I say gigantic, I mean gigantic – see for yourself. The beef broth is also very flavourful and again, amazing to eat with rice.
So these are a few of the dishes that have been tested and tried the many number of times I’ve been to Samara Kitchen these past few months. I’m telling y’all, if you want some real authentic Indonesian food, this is the place to go. The price is also reasonable – for example: the ayam goreng that comes with the rice, tempe and small side soup? That’s $12.50 and you’ll already be pretty stuffed eating that. I say you come with several people and try a bunch of dishes together, trust me fighting for the last bit of mie goreng or toge is the best part!
If you have any questions on any of the dishes mentioned above please leave a comment below! If you have been to Samara, I would love to also hear your opinion and what you thought of the food/if you have a favourite dish there!
*I did not have these items on this particular day I went to Samara. Hence, I’ve provided a link to a google image that best displays the dish!