12 May 2010

Thailand/Indonesia/Malaysian: Jakarta

Colindale isn’t likely to spring to mind for fine exotic cuisine. In fact, it’s not. The North West London suburb is a rather grim mish-mash of fried chicken joints, fruit and veg shops and dodgy looking massage parlours. It’s like whatever was rejected by the neighbouring areas has been pushed into the middle to create Colindale.

Under the circumstances, I’d normall advise you to move along quickly as there is nothing worth seeing here but instead I’m going to strongly motion you over to Jakarta, and you don’t need a passport and visa either.

Jakarta is a fusion of Malaysian, Thai and Indonesian cuisine and from what I’ve been told, has changed management over the years and improved vastly as a result. It's actually been around for over 20 years.

Unanimously declared by locals as the diamond amongst the rough, Jakarta is nestled in a parade of shops situated at the foot of a residential road that veers off Edgware Road.

Decorated with carvings, displays and pictures imported from Thailand and Indonesia, Jakarta has a real vibe about its atmosphere. Its warm and cosy, and the sweet and friendly staff are dressed in traditional garments.

The menu is illustrious, divided by starters, side dishes, fish, poultry, meat and vegetarian so all diets are catered for. However, a lot of their dishes contain nuts so it’s wise to check first. The staff will also cook food according to how hot you personally request though some of the items are classified by level of spiciness.

Another point about their menu is their chicken and lamb is halal so I assume the owners are Muslim. Disappointingly, the beef and duck isn’t but no pork is served.

My regular favourite dish is Sambal Ayam Goreng (tender pieces of chicken breast cooked in a red chilli sauce (£5.75) with egg fried rice (£2.25). The squid (Sambal Sotong at £5.95) and prawn versions (Sambal Udang at £6.95) are also available.

On this occasion, I vowed to try something different and so I opted for Nasi Goreng Special (£6.95) - special fried rice with shredded chicken, egg, peas cooked with Indonesian sweet soya sauce and garnished with king prawns and two sticks of chicken sate. It's a starter and main course in one and immensely filling. I found the chicken pieces in the rice were engulfed in strong spices, which complimented well with the crispy king prawns and the juicy, tender chicken sates.

I'd also recommend soup Tom Yum Goong (£2.50) - a Thai hot and sour soup with prawns that dances on your tongue. Bawang Putih Ayam, crispy chicken fried with garlic and chillies (breast or wing) priced at £5.75 is another delicious offering best shared and sampled with a sauce but it is incredibly salty and the garlic is particularly pungent.

Every dish is beautifully presented in unique platters and bowls, which just adds to the authenticity of dining at Jakarta's.

The prices are an absolute bargain too; you’re looking at roughly £15 a head for starter, main course and dessert (not including wine).

The staff are very relaxed and will leave you to enjoy your meal, not even hurrying you to pay the bill. Often I’ve stayed till the restaurant has to close for the night.

This place is perfect for for large parties, those with children and couples. Jakarta has its own website as well (http://www.jakartarestaurant.co.uk/) where you can peruse their extensive menu.

An absolute gem, this one. Venture far and you will be greatly rewarded.

Address: 7 Sheaveshill Parade, Sheaveshill Avenue, Colindale, NW9 6RS
Telephone: 020 8205 3335/3227

Tube: Colindale (Northern)
Bus: 142 stops a stone’s throwaway from the restaurant
Car: Park on Sheaveshill Avenue or neighbouring residential roads – check for controlled hours

View Map

Jakarta on Urbanspoon

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