Updated 11th Dec 2014; This restaurant is closed according to Urbanspoon.com.
I had lots of leave accumulated from last year. Believe it or not, I have almost 6 weeks of leave which I need to clear by the end of this year. So, HR sent a note to everyone that we had to now use a certain number of days by June 30th or we lose it. The only way I could use it without really impacting my project is to take a day here and there.
So, I took a day off mid week to meet up for lunch with someone I had always wanted to meet. He is known as fmed as a commenter on chowtimes. Fmed is a prolific foodie and very active around the local food blogs and forums using other names. It was only recently I managed to piece together who fmed really is.
We decided to meet up at the Sweet Chili Cafe, a place we had always wanted to try twice before only to find out that they were closed on Sundays.
Although the sign outside the restaurant says “Thai and Authentic Indonesian Cuisine”, to me the Sweet Chili Cafe is more of an Indonesian restaurant.
Like they say, the best things comes in small packages. The Sweet Chili Cafe is small having only 6 tables in all, each spread with batik as a table cloth.
This place is owned by Angeline Tan, a very friendly delightful lady. The moment she saw me taking my camera out of the bag, she immediately asked “are you doing a review?” like she was expecting me to. I said no with a smile and that I just like taking pictures of my food. She knows. I like her already because I know she has a lot of stories to tell … all I had to do is to ask. Angeline told us she is part Indonesian and part Chinese. The decor and menu reflects that.
The Sweet Chili Cafe is actually the smaller newer incarnation of the Bali Restaurant on Broadway which had won awards 2 years in a row from Georgia Straight for Best South East Asian Food. I read this on one of the many newspaper clippings that Angeline framed up in her restaurant. I actually thought it kind of strange that she changed the name of an established award winning restaurant and started afresh with a new name on a new location. I thought it was intrusive and impolite to ask, so I did not.
We ordered drinks. The Es Cendol is a popular cold drink in Malaysia sold mainly by the Indians community. I was not sure it was also a common drink in Indonesia too (is it?).
The word cendol refers to the greenish pandan flavored starch noodles at the bottom. This is served with coconut milk and palm sugar (the Malaysians insist on calling this gula melaka while the Indons calls this Gula Jawa!) — that is all one need to call this Cendol. This is a great drink for a hot day. It is a rich but not overly sweet drink. The cendol here is served with a tinge of saltiness which adds a bit of a element of surprise.
The gift of Indonesia to the world is their excellent coffee beans. While Indonesia is far from being the top producing coffee in the world, their contribution is in the word “Java” which refers to the main island of Java in Indonesia. I wrote a sentence or two on another Indonesia Coffee called Kopi Luwak, proportedly the most expensive coffee beans in the world at $500 per pound (see here).
So, in an Indonesian restaurant, drink Indonesian Coffee ($3). It is thick and strong. They add condensed milk as a sweetener. Try it, you might like it.
The Rojak Kemanten has a nice little tartness to it. It is a local vegetable salad and is great as an appetizer. $7.25.
The Roti Canai is $3 and is basically a Malaysian, not Indonesian food as far as I know. It was flakey from the layered dough. Angeline serve this with a yellowish curry sauce made with tumeric. But the curry is served in a small dipping saucer only. In Malaysia, you could spark a riot for serving curry in a saucer like this. LOL! Normally it is served in a bowl — lots of it.
The Beef Rendang on Rice ($7.50) looked pretty good and tasted good. Suanne thought the beef is a bit on the tough side and should be mushier but I thought it was quite OK like it is. Rendangs are cooked over many hours in coconut milk and various types spices which allows the beef to soak up all the spices. There was quite a generous helping of beef in here.
The Lamb Curry ($8.25) was something I cannot remember trying.
I also ordered the Bakmi Goreng simply because I had never heard of this dish before. When it was served, it tasted very familiar but cannot quite put a name to this. The noodles used are of the thinner stringier variety. We asked that it be made as spicy as they can make it. It was REALLY spicy … burning hot but we like it. They use sweet soya sauce to stir fry this. $8.25.
The total came up to $40 before tips. It was a lot of food for the three of us that we had some leftover to go. The Sweet Chili Cafe is a delightful little hole in the wall. Prices are quite OK. If you crave for spicy South East Asian food, you should check it out. Angeline is such a friendly and genuine person that many people could connect with her instantly … even if you don’t pull out a camera. LOL!
Fmed was a great company. Suanne and I had a great time because he is such a respectful person and so knowledgeable about the food scene in Vancouver. Thanks for coming out, Fmed. Let’s do this again sometime soon!