Indonesian Restaurant 1968
It’s not often you find authentic Indonesian food right in the hub of yuppie-populated Central but Indonesian Restaurant 1968 delivers just that. Having moved from their Causeway Bay flagship location last year (due to the extortionate rent prices, we hear), 1968 are just about staying afloat in the middle of the sea of L Place’s high-end gastro dining choices. They’ve made an effort: it’s all clean, stripped wood countertops and glowing rustic lamps with touches of chain link fences and soda crates, reminiscent of Indonesia’s street-side dining culture. The atmosphere is generally quite relaxed (perhaps due to the space itself, which is huge, bordering on sprawling) but it might be a different story during the lunchtime rush-hour.
Moving swiftly on to the food, we start with sate sapi (beef tenderloin satay, $98 for two), which are served with a dark and sticky soy dipping sauce. The centre of it is difficult to get into as the texture is slightly elastic rather than meltingly soft, but the taste more than makes up for that. Lightly seared on all sides and slightly underdone, the middle is addictively sweet and salty and has a deliciously meaty punch to it.
Shying away from the nasi goreng and other safe options, we try the ikan asam (sour and spicy fish, $148) and side it with plain rice and a plate of veggies. The fish, white and buttery soft, arrives souped up in a stone pot of sweet and tangy gravy, which is tasty in its own right – but fails to bring any surprises to the table. Additional okra, peppers and aubergine are also thrown into the mix. Unfortunately, we also order the terong goreng veggie dish ($58), which pretty much consists of the same sauce and vegetables (although, strangely, the okra is stringier and tougher in this version).
There are a lot of other dishes on the menu that call out to us, including seafood specials that we can’t try for sheer lack of manpower. The dishes aren’t small by any standards and, all in all, it’s quite a satisfying experience for the stomach as well as for the soul. Ysabelle Cheung
5/F, The L Place, 139 Queen’s Rd Central, 2577 9981; www.ir1968.com. Daily noon-midnight. Dinner for two: around $400.