Thursday, February 18, 2010

Excelsior: New Kemang Chinese Restaurant

South Jakarta residents have one fewer reason to head north in search of Chinese food. Located on Jalan Radio Dalam is a spanking new restaurant and bakery whose name, a Latin word, means “ever upward.”

Excelsior sits on the corner of Jalan Radio Dalam and Jalan Taman Radio Dalam, and is marked by a distinctive red signboard. Inside it is roomy, even hollow, and divided into three distinct sections. The largest, for proper dining, is close to the conventional Chinese-style open kitchen, where whole ducks and chickens dangle behind glass.

Settling down to dinner along with Excelsior’s lively Saturday crowd, we went with shrimp dumplings as our appetizer before moving on to a main course of Cantonese spicy noodles, roasted meat with jellyfish, sauteed hor fun with sliced beef and egg, and seafood soup in fried rice. The inventiveness of the menu’s content is topped only by that of its English spellings.

Considering the size of the post-church gathering that crowded the room, our orders came out remarkably quickly.

The shrimp dumplings, while smooth in texture, could have been more flavorful. Before long, though, that slight disappointment was shunted aside by a plate laden with three varieties of roasted meat — grilled duck, grilled chicken and char siu chicken, along with a platter of jellyfish. Although the char siu was lush in flavor and went well with the light-toned, buttery dipping sauce, the grilled duck was by far the best selection. It was meaty and tender on the inside, crisp and fatty on the outside.

The Cantonese spicy noodles came in a generous portion thoroughly seasoned and served with a load of meat and mushrooms, and the hor fun — the flat, thick rice noodles that the waitress said were the restaurant’s specialty—satisfied both tongue and tummy.

Fried rice in seafood soup was also rich and satisfying. The rice was submerged in a steamy brew in which soaked sizable chunks of snapper, squid, fat prawns and various vegetables.


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