There’s a curious stretch of Charing Cross Road right by Chinatown – you may know the one I mean. It’s a row of shops filled with kitsch and restaurants serving all manner of Asian foods. At one end is a terrible Korean restaurant and at the other end is a bar. I never really paid much attention to this stretch with the exception of the Malaysian Kopi Tiam and it turns out that I possibly should have!
Take that complex of shops full of kitsch, for example. You may know the one – there are colourful plastic umbrellas and lots of Hello Kitty coin purses. It turns out there’s an Indonesian shop upstairs.
And that shop sells ready made meals too with different things available each day. There are a few mismatched oversized tables to sit at and they were almost all full with Indonesian families and students tucking into some good looking dishes. Grab a seat wherever you can and wait for the one server to be free. Be patient!
We put in our order and waited. First to arrive at our table was their mie bakso (£4), a bowl of tender-crunchy beef balls and mung bean noodles in a light but flavourful broth. I believe it’s available every day.
Kicking about on one of the tables will probably be a jar of this sambal bakso. The label says Extremely Hot! (in red!) on the side and it certainly is – use with caution! It’s a great accompaniment to the bouncy beef balls.
We also shared a plateful of
pempek siomay (£5) ( or empek-empek thank you, Ridha, for the identification!), fried fish and tapioca paste fritters – some plain and some first stuffed in tofu. These were quite heavy though tasty under the drizzle of sweet soy (maybe kecap manis?) and a creamy peanut sauce on the side.
Help yourself to drinks out of the cooler – we had a can of Coke and a bottle of Mirinda (50p each). There’s an Indonesian bottled tea drink available too.
That day there was also one final dish available – nasi padang with beef rendang. This is a dish of rice served with the rich rendang and other sambals and pickles. It looked great and I hope to try that the next time I drop by. Oh, and of course there are Indonesian (and some Dutch) groceries available to purchase too.
Indonesia Mini Market
57 Charing Cross Road (1st floor)
London WC2H 0NE
Also part of this complex of shops is a Brazil by Kilo, a Brazilian buffet where you pay for the weight of your food. Judging by the clientele (all Brazilian families), it can’t be too bad. Another one to try.
Also new along this stretch of Charing Cross Road is Roti King in a funny spot called Asian Twist Delicious. These are the guys who ran the Roti Stall at Oriental City and we came here for our first lunch that day (Indonesian Mini Market was our second lunch). Their roti canai is exactly as I remember it and we had it with a dal curry and we also split a delicious roti sardin (spiced mashed sardines wrapped in the thin bread). Excellent.