Ever since Eating in Translation‘s Dave Cook spotted the sign for a soon-to-open Bromo Satay House last August, I’ve been calling the restaurant every so often to see if it was open. Nearly a year later, Cook reported that the restaurant was about to open, and last night someone finally picked up the phone. So we hopped on over there.
Located on a bustling stretch of Broadway, Bromo Satay House joins the many fine eating options in the area. Last night it was packed, loud and lively, full of people who knew each other or who were getting to know each other, shouting back and forth between tables. Nearly everyone was munching on satay.
Bromo’s menu includes four different satays (chicken, beef, lamb, and shrimp); snacks like the stuffed flatbread called martabak, rojak, and fried tempe; soups like bakso (meatball noodle soup) and soto ayam (chicken soup), and family-style dishes like mie goreng, nasi campur, sambal udang (shrimp in chile sauce), and ikan asam manis (fish in sour-sweet sauce), among others.
Also listed are two rijsttafels–a Dutch word meaning “rice table” that connotes an elaborate Indonesian meal of many small dishes. Both of Bromo’s rijsttafels are meant for two people; one costs $40, the other $50. But those feasts are not yet available–the owner said they’ll start serving them next week.
In fact, Bromo only opened last week, so the chaos that reigned in the dining room and kitchen last night is understandable. The two servers seemed on the verge of mental breakdowns, as many large parties ordered and the kitchen couldn’t keep up. We waited about an hour for our food, but that’s likely just because they’re so new and so busy.
We tried beef and lamb satays ($7.50 each), both tasty nubbins of charred meat doused in peanut sauce and garnished with shallot. The shrimp in the sambal udang ($9.75) were oddly naked–I’ve never seen the dish made with shelled crustaceans, and it was missing the depth of flavor that the shells and heads provide. Nevertheless, the sambal sauce was really delicious–faintly fishy from trassi, the Indonesian dried shrimp paste, and fiery hot.
Nasi campur ($6.75), basically rice with several side dishes, can be elaborate or very simple. Here, it’s somewhere in between, served with a hard boiled egg in sambal, a delicious green bean-tofu mix, and a bit of indifferent stewed beef. A giant shrimp cracker–crunch!–comes on the side. Ask for a bit of extra sambal and sweet kecap (pronounced kay-chip) manis on the side to perk things up.
Despite the minor problems, I think this place has a lot of promise. I’ll check it out again in about two weeks to see how things are going.
83-25 Broadway, Elmhurst, Queens