Posting will be light next week, as I won’t have my laptop with me (how will I survive??). But continuing this week’s spotlight on South-East Asian cuisine, earlier in the summer I visited Kuta – a “fancy” Indonesian restaurant on the Lower East Side. While Indonesian food is distinct in its own right, there is some overlap with Singaporean/Malaysian cuisine. I had a Singaporean with me that night, and he was prepared for the real deal. How did Kuta live up?
We first started with the the Curry Puff, stuffed with chicken, onions, carrots, potato and peanut sauce in a flaky pastry. Curry puffs sell on the street in Singapore for about $1 – here we had two curry puffs for $7. Would Kuta’s spin on this humble snack warrant the 3.5x price difference? (Granted, we don’t have to hop on a plane to Singapore to get this puff.)
Alright, I’ll be honest – $7 for this dish is not outrageous by NYC standards (though it is outrageous for most places outside NYC). However, just knowing that these puffs were priced at such a premium was a little disheartening. Eventually, this fact didn’t stop me from eating them. Yeah, I got over it.
We also had the Indonesian Madura Satay. Kuta had quite an extensive satay menu, so I had high hopes for this appy. Satay, or “meat on sticks” as I so maturely call it, is usually not my fave – the meat is sometimes over-cooked and tough. However, Kuta knew their stuff for this one – the chicken was juicy, tender and flavorful. I’d recommend.
Our final starter was the “Jimbaran” Crab Cake, with lump crabmeat, red & green bell pepper, onion and spicy aioli. The cake was nicely seasoned without being overly salty, with large chunks of crab meat. The aioli provided a creamy tang to the seafood.
The first entree was the “Indonesian” Nasi Goreng of chicken fried rice, fried egg, sweet soy sauce, and beef madura satay (first picture). The quotes around “Indonesian” confused me – after all, this is a traditional Indonesian dish. Anyway. Nasi Goreng is a type of fried rice – this one was not bad, although it relied a little more on the soy sauce than the Nasi Goreng I’ve sampled previously.
The second entree was the Seafood Laksa, with shrimp, squid, mixed vegetables and pineapple in a spicy coconut curry.
I LOVE laksa. Whenever it’s on the menu, I order it – there’s something about the sweet creamy coconut and the warm spice of the curry that is so satisfying. Kuta’s version was pretty good, but the portion was a little small – I’m used to my giant hulking bowls of laksa.
For dessert, we ordered the Coconut Crusted Fried Ice Cream, with raspberry sauce and pineapple. Decidedly not authentic, it was nonetheless excellent. I mean come on, ice cream + fried? Count me in.
Kuta was fine. The food was not bad; the restaurant is trendy in that “Lower East Side trendy restaurant” way – the consequence of which is smaller portions for higher prices. I’d recommend Kuta for the scene, knowing that you will not get the most authentic Indonesian fare. If you do decide to stop by, make reservations – the restaurant is small.
Not the most authentic, but not bad.
Kuta 65 Rivington St. (at Allen St.) 212.777.5882
Have you had Indonesian cuisine before? Like? Dislike?