Written by Vann Vicente
Photos by Uela Altar
I went to Indonesia a few years ago, so I have some experience with their cuisine. If there’s one sure thing I can say about the country’s food, it’s that they know how to bring on the heat. I’ve been craving the spicy and bold flavors of Indonesian food ever since.
There are relatively few Indonesian restaurants in Manila, and that’s why when I saw that one of the best buffets in the metro, Spiral at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila, was featuring an upgraded Indonesian section for this week—my eyes lit up.
Flavors of the World: Indonesia was the first in a series of events that highlighted the cuisines of various countries, and which ran at Spiral from March 13 to 19, 2017. A team of our WIMterns went to the opening ceremony, where they featured the week’s guest chef—Pradipta Bayu Primaputra from Hotel Pullman Jakarta—along with the top managers of Sofitel Philippines.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper tribute if they didn’t have the presentation to match the food. Upon walking in, we were greeted by a person in Indonesian garb. The opening also featured a mesmerizing cultural performance from a traditional dancer.
After the ceremonies had ended, we dove straight into the Indonesian buffet! Here were some of the highlights of the section:
Jackfruit Juice with Calamansi
Not only does the juice taste incredibly refreshing, it also has a very neutralizing effect on your palate. That’s why it’s the ideal drink to counter-balance to the spiciness of the food. We definitely ended up having more than a single glass of this during the course of the meal.
Beef Empal is fried beef that is loaded with spices. The one here was thankfully a bit milder than usual and a little sweet—which was just right for the incredibly tender beef.
This delicious shrimp dish they served was probably the highlight of the afternoon. While I’m not much of a big shrimp connoisseur, I ended up going for second and third servings of it. I actually waited around for the dish to be refilled because it was easily the crowd favorite. The sauce had a nice kick, and the spices managed to bring out the fullness of the flavor of the prawns.
Ayam Goreng, the Indonesian version of fried chicken, is probably one of the most common dishes in the country. It’s fried in coconut oil and paired with crispy flakes that are an alternative to the typical breading in Western fried chicken. It goes great when paired with Nasi Goreng—a fried rice popular in Southeast Asia.
I’m notoriously picky with vegetables, but I would probably eat all vegetables if they tasted like this. Gado-Gado is a salad dish that is covered in delicious peanut sauce, similar to Kare-Kare. The sweetness of the peanut sauce helps offset the bitterness of the veggies, so I found it easy to dig right in.
Sup Buntut is exactly as the name suggests—it’s soup made from oxtail broth. Because, soup = sup, and buntut is similar to the Tagalog word buntot or tail. (I’ll be honest, I found this name very cute.) It is paired with oxtail meat, and it tastes a little similar to your typical beef broth, but with a little hint of sweetness.
Similar to the Filipino favorite halo-halo, Es Cendol is a dessert made up of shaved ice with coconut milk, jackfruit juice, and sugar—making it the perfect sweet treat at the end of such a sizzling meal.
They also featured various types of sambal, a spicy chili paste used for enhancing dishes, which was great when paired with Iga Balado—a scrumptious beef rib layered with various types of spices.
Since we were in Spiral already, we decided to take a detour to the cheese room! All of us were pretty much cheese virgins, so we decided to give it a shot. Our photography WIMtern Uela took a few Instagram pictures of our incredible haul.
If you’re interested in exploring the flavors of Indonesia and you want to make a reservation, you can contact +63 (02) 832 6988 or e-mail [email protected]sofitel.com.