Food and Drink
Posted by Dan Kuseta
11. Feb, 2011
While Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai cuisines are all card-carrying members of the Melbourne food scene, restaurants from our nearest neighbour have never been thick on the ground. Indonesian cuisine, influenced by Indian, Chinese and European flavours is home to a blistering array of spices and sauces (think sambal and satay) and Es Teller 77, an Indonesian fast food chain, is a great place to kick off your culinary tour.
With locations on Swanston Street and Carlton, Es Teler (meaning iced fruit drink) caters for the student set, which means big serves, quick service and low prices. As well as the usual Nasi Gorengs and noodley stuff the menu offers intriguing dishes like Pecel Lele (deep fried catfish with rice and soup), Tofu Tek (tofu topped with vegetables and spicy sauce) and Soto Ayam Ketupat (Indonesian chicken soup with mini rice cakes) plus an array for desserts. I choose the fried wontons (6 pieces, $4.75), Telur Balado (fried eggs with chili sauce, rice, veggies and soup, $8.00) and an avocado juice with condensed milk for good measure.
The wontons are big bastards, deep-fried (like much of the menu), piping hot and stuffed with chicken and spices. Served with lettuce and a sweet dipping sauce, it’s a bold opening act.
Not to be outdone, my Telur Balado arrives roughly thirty seconds later and promptly takes up most of the table. An imposing bed of rice and steaming bowl of soup flank a dinner plate stacked with fried eggs smothered in a serious looking sauce. Then my avocado shake arrives. Lucky I had a light breakfast.
The eggs have been hard boiled then fried, the big yolks absorbing the chilli, garlic and sweetness of the balado sauce. It’s good stuff but heavy going, and the soup – a light chicken broth – acts as a palette cleanser between bites. Mixed with the rice and some cucumber it becomes slightly less decadent, but I’d suggest this dish is best shared with at least a dozen others. The avocado shake is delicious, about as thick as golden syrup and somehow works with the eggs and wontons. Mine is to eat, not to question.
Either way I don’t leave hungry, and and there’s enough on the menu to keep me coming back – next time with reinforcements.
Es Teler 77
164 Cardigan St, Carlton