It's easy for a restaurant to become old news. Case in point: Rice Bowl II, which got some buzz a couple of years back, has fallen a bit off of the radar lately. But just because it's not getting the buzz that it used to doesn't mean that it's not just as good today as it was a couple of years ago, when Robb Walsh went there with his Indonesian friend Ecky Prabanto.
So today, we're revisiting an oldie but a goodie for some Rendang Sapi, those tender, sliceable-with-a-fork chunks of beef slow-cooked in an Indonesian-style curry. One order for $9.99 will get you about six hunks of marbled beef chunks in a sweet-but-spicy, milky, orange-mustard-colored sauce. The Indonesian equivalent to a hearty beef stew, this dish is savory to the hilt.
And if you haven't yet tasted the telor belado, a simple dish of eggs unlike any other you will have tasted, you're missing out. It was number 68 on Robb Walsh's Favorite Dishes list, and it's definitely up there on my own personal favorite list. The flash-fried eggs develop a kind of brownish, weblike film on the outside, giving a chewiness to the egg white, and a generous mound of sweet and sour chili paste transforms the egg while igniting your palate with a bit of spicy fire.
Even their ong choy, or water spinach, sauteed simply with garlic, is a standout. Unlike Vietnamese preparations, they do something to give the vegetables a smokiness. The vegetables are sauteed just-so, so that they're still bright green (they turn dark green when overcooked), with a bite to the stalks.
True, the neighborhood is a little suspect, and the entrance may scare you (there are white bars on the doors outside). The furnishings are on the okay side of shabby, and the restaurant bills itself as a Chinese Restaurant. But make no mistake, this place makes great Indonesian food, and if you haven't been there in a while, it's worth a revisit. If you haven't been there ever, prepare yourself for a super-tasty quality meal for two, all for less than $30.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.