Thursday, March 19, 2009

Indomania - South Beach

We will return to regularly scheduled Spanish programming in a moment, in the meantime another Miami report. Indomania is just slightly off the map of "South Beach" proper, at 26th Street just off Collins Avenue. It's a funky little place, with a coolly modern look, painted in dark greys and browns, dark wood floors, with a big blown-up black and white photograph providing the primary decoration. And its Dutch-Indonesian food is, for me, one of the most interesting dining options in South Beach.

I'll confess I don't know much about Indonesian food, other than the "famous" dishes of nasi goreng (fried rice) and rijsttafel (rice table) - the latter actually, if I understand right, a Dutch colonial adaptation of a multi-dish Indonesian dinner spread. Indomania offers a full panoply of appetizer and entrees, but the rijsttafels, with their plethora of choices, always seem to me like the way to go. The rijsttafels at Indomania come in a few different sizes - a regular or vegetarian option for 1 person with 8 dishes ($18-20), or the "Java" with 13 items @ $24, and the "Sumatra" with 17 items @ $28, both for 2 or more persons.

Ordering the "Sumatra" will bring a tray of food so huge it seems like more than one person should be carrying it, and requires an extra table to be set up to hold everything. The servers have mastered the art of unloading a few of the dishes onto your plate, and squeezing several hot items onto a little hot plate and the rest around the dining table. The rijstaffel includes: sateh ayam (chicken satay, very similar to the skewered chicken w/ peanut sauce you see at most Thai places); ayam opor (chicken in a coconut curry sauce); smoor djawa (beef in a dark, sweet soy sauce that almost caramelizes); rendang padang (beef in a thick coconut sauce); sambal gudang (shrimp in a mildly sweet coconut sauce); nasi puteh (steamed white rice); nasi goreng (fried rice); telor besegnek (hard-boiled egg, cooked in a yellow curry sauce); sambal gbuncis (crisp spicy green beans); sayur lodeh (mixed vegetables in a coconut curry); gado gado (a light salad of cabbage, green beans, fried tofu, dressed with peanut sauce); terong oseng (a delicious stew of cubed eggplant, a little sweet and a little spicy); atjar ketimoen (lightly pickled sliced cucumber, again similar to the garnish that often accompanies a Thai satay); rudjak manis (a fresh fruit salad); krupuk udang (crispy shrimp crackers); serundeng (a garnish of toasted coconut and peanuts to sprinkle on whatever you wish); and sambal oelek (red chile sauce, not super-spicy, to up the heat level as you see fit).

With its central location for the spice trade, it's no surprise that Indonesian food takes full advantage of a wide range of spices, and that's part of what I find so enjoyable - with more than a dozen dishes, the flavor profiles of most of them are still quite different and distinguishable. Certain dishes, like the chicken satay and atjar, reminded me of Thai flavors; others, like the stewed meat items, were reminiscent of Ethiopian flavors. But for the most part, each offered something different, all very highly spiced without being particularly spicy.

Service is very friendly and does a good job of explaining the food, and the place has a nice enough look to it to be a decent "date" place with prices that won't break the bank. As South Beach seems to become more and more indundated with generic Italian restaurants and steakhouses, Indomania is a refreshing change of pace.

131 26th Street
Miami Beach, FL 33140
Tue-Thu 6pm - 10pm
Fri-Sat 6pm - 11pm

Indomania on Urbanspoon


  1. I keep thinking I should try this place but I'm not sure I'll like the kind of food. Probably will have to suck it up one day and go.

    Btw, I plugged you on South Florida Daily Blog. It's a great read if you are not already reading.

  2. If you like Thai or Indian food, I think you'd like Indomania. On the other hand if you don't like either of those ...

    Never heard of South Florida Daily Blog - will have to check it out, thx.

  3. Like Thai, not a fan of Indian or Ethiopean food.

    SFDB links to interesting news stories in SoFL as well as SoFL blogs. I recommended you be added and Rick, the site creator, obliged. I read it daily. Its a great source of discussion on a variety of topics.

  4. One of my favorite places on the beach. Wish we had more of these (cozy, family-run and SO good).

  5. This is by far one of my favorite restaurants which I will blog about soon. I grew up eating this type of food, very similar to Malaysian. Chef Ina's Beef Rendang is spot on!

    I agree with Sara's comment there should be more of these types of restaurants in Miami!