Homey Food at Upi Jaya – NYC
There’s a good number of Malaysian restaurants in Manhattan, but Indonesian? There’s just one in Hell’s Kitchen that I know of, so if you want rendang, you have to head to Queens. Last month, such a craving hit, and BF and I ended up in Upi Jaya in Elmhurst for some homey Indonesian food.
The Rendang Daging ($7.50 for a rice plate with jasmine rice and jackfruit with curry; pictured above) was quite tasty at Upi Jaya; a little sweet, a little spicy, and tender on the outside. Unfortunately, towards the center it was less so and also a bit bland. A little doctoring with some of the many bottle of condiments (various soy and pepper-based sauces) located by the cashier was needed. The incendiary green chili peppers accompanying the rice also helped bump up the heat. The coconut curry with the rice was also good, but a little more sauce would have been nice.
David had the Ketoprak ($6.50), rice vermicelli with tofu and mung bean sprouts in a garlic peanut sauce. It was okay. The peanut sauce was appropriately garlicky, but besides that it was very light and a bit muddled. A stronger peanut flavor would have been preferred. Again, more condiments came into play here. The best part were the puffed shrimp chips on top of which I’m a fan. I have fond memories of eating freshly fried shrimp chips at home when I was little. However, if you like them too, no need to order a noodle dish to get your shrimp chip fix on. Already fried or uncooked chips, which resemble small pastel poker chips, can be found at most Asian supermarkets in New York.
Upi Jaya isn’t a destination restaurant, but if you’re in the area and need some comforting, simple Indonesian restaurant in a casual atmosphere, it fits the bill. Just remember to take full advantage of the condiments provided. They’re there for a reason.
76-04 Woodside Ave (b/n 75th & 76th St; map)
Elmhurst, NY 11373