I am back in Melbourne for 4 nights before going to Penang to visit my mum. I booked myself at The Alto Hotel, which I have stayed in my previous visits. It is the best hotel with 5-star service without the price tag. At $168 per night including breakfast for a studio room with queen size bed, it is good value for money. The rate varies depending on the number of nights and type of room. Best to check their special deals on their website, The Alto Hotel on Bourke
I arrived at the hotel as planned, about 6:30 pm. Rested for a couple of hours before heading out for something to eat. I google search for places to eat near the hotel. But I was not sure what I wanted. Best to be spontaneous and just go with the flow. So left the hotel about 8:30 pm and walked towards Bourke Street – King Street traffic light intersection, which is a 2 minutes walk from the hotel. I was planning to walk down Bourke Street towards Chinatown. While I was waiting for the pedestrian light to turn green, some neon lights towards the left of King Street caught my eyes. I decided to walk towards those neon lights. One, in particular, caught my attention. The sign read “Kedai Satay”. “Kedai” in Malay means “shop”. That means “Satay Shop”. The first thing that came to my mind was it has to be a Malaysian restaurant. But as I browsed through the name of the dishes with picture posted at the front of the shop window, I soon realized it was not a Malaysian restaurant but an Indonesian restaurant. It is not common to find an Indonesian restaurant in Australia. I decided to try the place.
I walked in. The open kitchen is on the left at the front of the restaurant, with both downstairs and upstairs seating. When I was there, the patrons were mostly Indonesians and Malaysians, with only one Australian. I thought to myself that it was a good sign. The restaurant is nothing fancy. Not too brightly litted with wooden tables and chairs, with background “pub-like” music but not too loud. I browsed through the small menu, with local Indonesian favorites, mostly street style food.
I ordered 5 skewers satay with a mix of 2 sticks of chicken and 3 sticks of lamb ($10), Soto Ayam with coconut rice ($9.80) and warm honey lemon tea ($3.50).
The last time I had Soto Ayam was many years ago in Bali. I love a nice bowl of Soto Ayam, which is spiced chicken broth with roasted chicken pieces, vermicelli and hard boiled egg garnished with dried shallots and coriander leaves. The broth is the main essence of this dish. Typically, the spice broth is a made from a mixture of coriander, cumin, ginger, galangal, turmeric. The Kedai Satay’s version is authentic to the real taste that I had in Indonesia. It was accompanied with a fragrant, light and fluffy coconut rice blended with a tangy and spicy homemade sambal belachan. A side condiment of Indonesian prawn crackers complete this wonderful street food dish.
The satay was well grilled with a nice crusty taste to the meat. It felt almost like it was grilled over some hot burnt charcoal, but it was not. The chicken satay was tender, but the lamb satay was a bit of a let down, which was a bit tough and very fatty. It was overall still a good satay. Tasty.
I left “Kedai Satay” feeling satisfied and extremely full. At the same time, a large group of patrons left the restaurant. They appeared to have a great time, laughing and obviously satisfied with their meal too.