This is really sad for me to admit but, last weekend was my first time trying Indonesian food. I thought I had tried it when I lived on the East Coast but clearly it wasn’t Indonesian, maybe Malaysian. That was really good. Anyhow, Gajah Wong is a wonderful place here in the area that we tried last week. It was me, the husband and a very close friend celebrating her birthday. The restaurant is located off of a main street in a fun and diverse neighborhood.
The restaurant’s décor is contemporary and tropical. When I stepped inside, I felt as if I was stepping into a big Asian furniture boutique with wall art and masks. The tables and chairs are made of rattan. The walls are covered with mirrors and wall-hangings on every last inch of the space. It’s busy for the eyes but very beautiful. When we entered, we were greeted immediately and seated in the main room. We began with a round of drinks. The birthday girl ordered a Gajah Wong, I ordered Love Potion, and the husband ordered beer. He was driving…. My drink was tropically and tasty. Apparently it tasted a lot like Mai Tai, or so I was told… (I haven’t had one of those before, sad but true.) As soon as our drinks were set, my eyes were on the Gajah Wong. I was impressed with her drink more than mine. Guess what I ordered the second round? Our friend jokingly said, “their dinner menu is sparse and they have quiet a spread on the drink menu” which is very true. As we were browsing for appetizers and dinner options, we found the menu to be limited compared to their drink choices which seemed endless.
For appetizers, my companions shared a Shrimp Indo Garden Roll which looked a lot like the Vietnamese Vegetable Roll in rice paper while I ordered a cup of Soto Ayam and rice soup. This soup was marvelous and made to perfection. Both the turmeric and lime leaves were added precisely, not overpowering the soup. It also had a generous amount of vermicelli noodles, vegetables, and chicken to balance the thin broth. As I enjoyed my soup, they inhaled their rolls, which is usually a good sign.
For main entrée I ordered Chicken Kare, a mix of exotic spices, chilies, and nuts cooked in a coconut milk mixture. I enjoyed this dish but not as much as I was hoping to. It lacked a little in the spicy department. I was expecting my taste buds to do a number in my mouth after the first bite and the Kare didn’t do it for me. It was a good dish, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t a 10. The drink, Gajah Wong, definitely was…… My dish could have had extra chilies, spices and nuts to enhance the flavor. The husband ordered a Shrimp Adhun and our friend had Chicken Adhun. They both enjoyed their entrees. Maybe next time I will order an Adhun. That sounds so exciting… A-dhoooonn.
And if our grand dinner wasn’t enough, we ordered a Kahlua cake. I know there is nothing Indonesian about Kahlua but we wanted chocolate. It was delicious and a great ending to a wonderful dinner. It tasted like drunken cake, “would you like some cake with your Kahlua?” And none of us were complaining.
Overall we had a good experience at the restaurant. They had a great staff that took care of us and an exceptional bartender that made great drinks. Sometimes that’s all it takes…. Though I wasn’t pleased with my main entrée, I was delighted with the soup, drinks and service. All of those are good reasons for me to visit Gajah Wong again when I am in the mood to be transported to tropical land.