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Taste of Jakarta
115 ball. Saint-Joseph, Gatineau, Hull Sector, 819-930-7919, skipthedishes.com/djakarta-taste-boulevard-saint-joseph
Open: Monday, Wednesday to Friday 4 to 11:15 pm, Saturday and Sunday 10 am to 11:15 pm, closed Tuesday
Prices: up to $17.99 for plates
Access: steps to front door
At the small, unassuming Djakarta Taste restaurant in the Hull section of Gatineau, the sound system plays soft Indonesian pop and folk music. I imagine these soothing sounds must calm any frayed nerves Atik Mutia, your chef and front desk person, may have.
I visited twice in the past month, once to eat on site and then to order takeout. Each time, the business, which opened in early 2022, was a one-woman operation. After taking the orders, Mutia retreated behind a curtain into the kitchen and, at the sound of things, she began to cut.
Mutia’s lack of staff meant that my takeaway order took nearly an hour to prepare, as she already had two tables of four to feed in her small dining room. He was more sympathetic to her situation than frustrated by our late dinner at home.
(So if you want to eat at home, learn from my mistake and place your order over the phone, which actually involves texting your desired dishes to Mutia. Or order your food through an online delivery service.) Overall though, dining here might be preferable as the food is piping hot and nicely plated).
Another reason to give Djakarta Taste some slack is that Indonesian dishes are very hard to find in Ottawa. The nearly four-decade-old Chahaya Malaysia restaurant serves Malaysian and Indonesian dishes, while the months-old Dhruvees restaurant serves Indonesia’s famous stewed meat dish, rendang, but made with lamb instead of beef. usual beef. And that’s all that I know of.
When we eat dinner, we start with some Mutia beef rendang, albeit in a less conventional dish. Here, the rendang tacos ($6.99 for two) were impressive, stuffed with tender, well-seasoned meat.
We split a medium bakso soup ($12.99 for a medium, $4.99 for a small, $17.99 for a “giant” bowl). In its intensely spicy broth were strong meatballs whose interiors were uniformly soft rather than thick, a wonton, two kinds of noodles, and more.
The thing I must order again from everything I tried at Djakarta Taste was their fried rice, called nasi goreng ($12.99), which had its own unique savory flavor profile that relied on dark sweet soy sauce (called kecap manis in Indonesian). ). The dish was also in massive portions, which was prevalent here. On the night we ate at the place we discovered that our order for two produced food for four.
Grilled Indonesian chicken thighs called ayam bakar ($13.99) were moist and meaty, seasoned again with kecap manis and served with salad, rice and homemade peanut sauce.
Overall, we felt we had done pretty well on our first exploration of the Djakarta Taste menu. Our takeout order a few days later was more lopsided.
On the plus side, I liked the potent acidity and heat of laksa, a noodle soup that Djakarta Taste comes in medium size and modestly priced ($7.99), packed with thin noodles and peppered with chunks of beef. , cabbage and mushrooms. For the sake of comparison, let me mention that at Datsun on Elgin Street, the most upscale seafood laksa is sold for $22.
Mee goreng ($12.99), made with noodles thinner than I expected, was tasty, though less impressive than the similar rice dish I’d had a few days earlier.
Nasi padang ($17.99) was a kind of combo plate inspired by large-scale multi-item meals in Indonesia. The piece of rendang meat in this dish, while tasty, could have been even spicier, and was tougher than the meat in those tacos. The other components of the dish were so-so.
The Gado-gado salad ($11.99) was a mix of chopped vegetables in a loose peanut sauce. It was the best of the vegetarian items we ordered, including the vegetarian mee goreng ($12.99) and vegetarian nasi goreng ($12.99), though my carnivorous bias might be showing.
Both fried that we take home — spring rolls called lumpia ($5.99 for five) and huge, doughy plantain fritters ($4.99) — they were soggy when we tasted them. Some banana fritters were raw.
Djakarta Taste does not have a liquor license and its food is halal, prepared according to Islamic standards.
Mutia told me that she also receives many guests who come from Ottawa because Indonesian diplomats live there, and I have also seen guests with Dutch connections, probably due to personal stories explaining that Indonesia was a Dutch colony until the middle of the last century.
“Many customers ask if we have more tables, if we will move to a bigger place,” Mutia said.
There is clearly a demand for homemade food made by Mutia, who worked in her family’s restaurant in Indonesia. She admitted when we talked that when her restaurant is busy and a friend is not available to help, she feels overwhelmed. She says that she is trying to recruit staff that would come from Indonesia.
Let’s hope it gets the help it deserves for Djakarta Taste to reach its potential.