Oh, this is one of those places that makes me wish I didn't live where I live. I'm pretty fond of my apartment, it's just the surroundings that I find less than satisfactory (weird, I know, since there are plenty of perfectly nice blogs devoted these environs). Minangasli should be my neighborhood restaurant, not Frankies 457 (which isn't even heinous) 0r I don't know, Marco Polo. But then, I could be biased since I'm no fan of Italian-American cuisine. Maybe I'm just partial to S.E. Asian food under $7 with nearby storefronts with names like Bappy Sweets (a bastardization of happy or does bappy mean something?). I would eat out every night and be even unhealthier and mushier than I am now, so it's for the best.
Minangasli was a must since I'm always on rendang alert. James was disappointed that the stewy meat wasn't as ubiquitous as he'd anticipated in Malaysia. The streets, pardon me, jalans, weren't paved with rendang, a beautiful image to imagine, nonetheless. I could be off, but I kind of saw it like a tourist going to Miami and distressing over the lack of cheesesteaks. I don' t know if Penang or Kuala Lumpur are exactly rendang hot beds. We certainly found the dish here and there, at a few street stalls, but it tended to show up more on the menus of Indonesian restaurants.
The ayam goreng sambal ijo, fried chicken smothered with a green chile paste was tastier than its simplicity would have you believe. The rendang was rich, slightly sweet, with deeper spices and less citrus than others I've tasted (including my own). It was a blessing that we were presented with only three large chunks or I would've been in serious caloric straits. (The portions are almost deceptively small, at first glance they seem slightly inadequate, but once you start eating you realize they're more than enough, it's an optical illusion.)
I'd heard about the kale and thought it was a good idea since we tend to get meat-heavy in Asian restaurants. But the greens were absent that evening, so we opted for jackfruit, a favorite of mine that didn't sway too far from Upi Jaya's rendition. I do think Minangasli's prices are a few dollars less, for whatever that's worth. But both are worth a visit. I'm all for Indonesian food in all permutations, as it's few and far between in NYC.
Minangasli * 86-10 Whitney Ave., Elmhurst, NY