Indonesian and Thai cuisines are served at Pembroke Pines’ Indo Quest. They use many of the same ingredients, but Indonesian is less hot with sweet, spicy and salty flavors infused with coconut. The restaurant’s rice table is a great way to sample broadly on the Indonesian side of the menu.
Owner Rinette Wagimim grew up in Paramaribo, Suriname (formerly Dutch Guiana), on South America’s northeastern coast. Her great-grandparents emigrated there from Indonesia when both countries were colonies of Holland.
Wagimim runs a hotel and restaurant back home, and opened the restaurant in South Florida a year ago, hiring Thai chef Winnai Kuamala, who learned the cuisine from an Indonesian chef.
Indonesian food melds many influences including Indian, Arab, Chinese and Dutch. Its rijsttafel, literally “rice table,” was adapted by the colonial Dutch from nasi padang (rice served with dozens of dishes from Padang, Sumatra) to impress visitors.
The version served here brings soto ayam (chicken soup) topped with potato sticks, nasi kuning (golden rice) cooked in coconut milk with turmeric, wok-tossed egg noodles, steamed cabbage with grated coconut, fried tofu cubes with bean sprouts, beef rendang cooked in coconut milk and spices, shrimp curry in tomato sauce and opor ayam (chicken stewed in coconut milk with ground coriander, soy sauce and kaffir lime leaves). An egg roll, plantain strips and a chicken skewer with peanut sauce are included.
End with pandan cake flavored with screw pine leaf, which has a sweet, tropical butterscotch flavor.
Linda Bladholm is a Miami food writer and personal chef who blogs at FoodIndiaCook.com.