Hamilton pop-up spot serves up classic Indonesian dishes
Indonesian's Flavour is located at 811 King St. East in Hamilton
Metro Morning's food guide, Suresh Doss, joins us every week to talk about one of the many great GTA eateries he's discovered.
Today, he talked to host Ismaila Alfa about a pop-up food spot in Hamilton where you can find delicious Indonesian dishes.
Ismaila: We've talked about food pop-ups that have launched during the pandemic across the GTA, what's it like in Hamilton?
Suresh: It's just as hot in Hamilton.
We're talking about an ensemble of aspiring cooks, cooks that left restaurant kitchens during the pandemic, and the side hustle, a cook that works in a restaurant and moonlights as a baker on the weekend.
You'll find all these pop-ups on social media channels and many of them use a commercial kitchen like the Kitchen Collective.
Ismaila: Tell me a bit about how that works, for those that are curious about supporting pop-ups.
Suresh: The safe and above-board way to run a food pop-up is to prepare your food in a commissary space.
You can rent the kitchen by the hour or day, and prepare your menus there.
Consumers will order it through your Instagram page and they'll co-ordinate pickup.
Ismaila: Which brings us to Bobby and Hana's pop-up — Indonesian's Flavour?
Suresh: They're both from Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia.
Surabaya is the second-largest metropolis. The city is a meeting point for cuisine from all over Indonesia.
They're both aspiring home cooks but had jobs in other fields when they moved to Canada nearly a decade ago.
They started this pop-up because Bobby couldn't find many Indonesian restaurants in the GTA, and the kind of cooking back home.
Ismaila: Is that true?
Suresh: We have a lot of great coverage in the GTA when it comes to foods from all over the world.
[Though for] Malaysia, Indonesia, the Straits, it is not that well represented. I can probably count on one hand the number of great places.
But there is a very lively pop-up scene on Marketplace, which is where Bobby and Hana started. They moved their operation to Hamilton because they live there.
Ismaila: What's on their menu?
They try to rotate the menu regularly but there are always the classics.
Two very popular street food style dishes that I like: The mie goreng, an East Java toss-up of fried noodles with fried onions, your protein of choice, served with boiled egg and vegetables.
There's also the nasi goreng, fried rice cooked with shallots, garlic and candlenut, which you can eat without meat. It comes with a scrambled egg, fried tempeh and it's coated with kecap manis — a sweetened soy sauce.
If you love fish, then I highly recommend you save room for the otak otak bandeng.
Ismaila: Describe that to me.
This is a very rare dish that we almost never see here.
It's a Central Javanese dish where you take whole milkfish, debone and clean it, you cook the flesh with shredded coconut, spices, vegetables and the kecap manis. Sometimes it has raisins in it.
The stuffing is then put back into the fish and it's baked.
It is an incredibly aromatic dish, there's galangal in there, which perfumes the room when you cut into the flesh.
And all the spices, a dozen or so, come at you in waves, complemented and soothed by the coconut milk. It's a very rare dish and a real treat to eat.
One last recommendation Ismaila, Bobby's take on the Indonesian dish — the rendang — is worth a drive.
Ismaila: Tell me about it.
At the core, this is a dish where chunks of beef are slowly cooked with coconut milk. But there is so much technique and intuition that is required to make it.
A rendang where the sauce is cooked down to the point where it clings to the meat, and you have all the aromatics singing to you. The meat is just unbelievably tender.
Bobby cooks each pot low and slow for four hours, so I would definitely recommend you get some rendang.
Ismaila: So how do people order?
Two ways: You can go to Indonesiansflavour.ca, or through their Instagram account @indonesianflavour.
The classics will be there each week but they do a ton of special dishes. Pickup in Hamilton or you can also follow them for their GTA delivery spots.