Thursday 2 May 2013

Es Teler 77 (Indonesian Cafe)

164, Cardigan St, Carlton, VIC 3053

Es Teler 77 on Urbanspoon
Es Teler is a Halal restaurant and has been around for a long time, starting in Indonesia and now in Malaysia, Singapore and Melbourne. They must be doing something right. They started as a simple no frills Warung and have pretty much maintained the no-frills down to earth eatery feel. Being in Cardigan St., it attracts a healthy number of students from the Uni of Melbourne and RMIT University. A large number of the diners are from Indonesia attesting to the authenticity, taste and price of the place. However, this is no fine dining space... so, please don't expect any posh service.

The Place
This is a very bright cafeteria style eating hall is a just a big space with tables that are moveable. There are big mirrors that make the place look bigger than it really is. There is not a lot of deco other than big pictures of some of the dishes in one section of the wall, and some murals above the mirrors. Sometimes, when they are understaffed - clearing of tables fall a bit behind making the place look a bit messy. The seats are also getting tired and its showing clear wear and tear (to put it mildly).

Parking varies here as it is on Cardigan Street and sometimes, if you are lucky, there's plenty of spots unless if it's the weekend evenings.

Things to do Nearby: This is near Lygon Street.

The Food
Bihun Goreng
This is basic street side Indonesian hawker food. You can expect Nasi Goreng, Mee Goreng, Bihun Goreng, Soto, Nasi Uduk. They do spiciness to the max if you like it that way. You just have to request it but be careful what you wish for. The flavours are authentic with one modification, they are not as greasy as your average eatery in Indonesia. While that is a good thing, sometimes, the various fried noodles and rice can get dry if you don't eat it quick enough. Most of the dishes are really quite nice and they do good Oxtail (Buntut) too!

For me, I always like to order their Bihun Goreng Kambing (Fried Rice Vermicelli with Goat). It's not something you can get everywhere and it's really quite tasty. However, it's a dish you have to eat quickly because it's not that nice cold and dry. it looks like a basic dish but it's really tasty for lunch.

Mee Goreng
The Service
Basically, you order at the counter, pay and wait for them to bring the food out to you. It's as basic as that. You can help yourself to the water or tea (if there's any left). It's one step short of a self-service restaurant. They are never rude but neither are actually quite friendly when it's not crazy busy. It's a basic transaction. When it gets really busy, they get really harried and the place gets a bit chaotic. Also, don't expect the dishes to come out at the same time though they are getting better at having most of the dishes come out around the same time. The best news is, they are never rude.

I prefer to go during the non-peak hours when they have more time to pay attention to the customers, and cleaning of the tables. Lunch times are generally pretty crazy. This is not generally a place to loiter around, it's an eat and go place.

Cultural Moment
Indonesian desserts of the coconut milk and ice variety comes in different forms. Es means Ice. It's simple really. The following are some of the popular ones;
Es Teler was actually invented by the founder of Es Teler 77, it has a combination of coconut milk, avocado, grass jelly, pandan, jackfruit, young coconut and condensed milk.
Es Campur is more generic (Campur means mixed) and can include a variety of fruits and jellies (all very colourful) and chendol or sago and of course a good dollop of coconut milk, condensed milk.
Es Doger is a Bandung variation, that includes 'bandung' which has pink rose syrup in the mix plus all the other fruity and jelly goodies, including tapioca pearls.
Es Chendol is probably the one that translates most succesfully to neighbouring Malaysia, Singapore, Burma and Thailand and primarily consists of coconut milk and the mung bean, rice flour and tapioca mix jelly (worm like looking) and includes palm sugar.
All yummy and very very sweet.

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