230 Dorcas St
South Melbourne, VIC 3205
03 9696 2192
Why I’d never visited Garamerica earlier beats me. Maybe it’s the not very Indonesian-sounding name, or maybe it’s because from the outside, it looked like a pricey-ish place. But my recent visit with Ees proved us otherwise.
Garamerica has a very simple set-up. It looks almost like a house with its front living room converted into a dining area that seats about 20 people max. I noticed that diners at other tables were speaking in Indo, so I assume there should be some modicum of authenticity here. And from looking at the menu, I was quite excited by the dishes on offer. Many of them were similar to the selections that you’d get with ever-so-delicious nasi padangs (Indonesian mixed rice) that you can have in Singapore.
We went curious with our drinks. Ees’s teh manis was just a touch disappointing because I think we were expecting it to be a teh ais / teh pengtype iced milk tea. His tea had strong floral hints of Jasmine and it was very very sweet. I went nostalgic with a light and refreshing dessert-like iced soursop drink. It was good. Soursop is a fruit that’s somewhat similar to custard apples, only its flesh is less creamy, possibly a little more fibrous, and it tastes tangier.
Perkedel (3pcs) $6.00
Deep fried seasoned mashed potatoes
Malay stalls in Singapore would call these potato fritters bergedil. They’d have little condiments and spices inside the mash that’d make them taste amazing once everything’s deep-fried. I always loved having begedil with my Nasi Padang dishes, especially when you eat it with sambal and rice drowned with lots of sayur lodeh (malay curry vegetables). The perkedel here were different from the way I like it back home in terms of spices and ingredients used, which is understandable as every region does it differently. But they still tasted pretty alright, albeit on the salty side.
Tahu goreng tepung $3.20
Thinly sliced tofu pieces dipped w seasoned flour, then deep fried to golden brown
Reading the words ‘tahu goreng’ on the menu had me assume I was having deep-fried tofu with bean sprouts, cucumber and a peanutty satay sauce. I should’ve read the menu properly to find out what the dish was going to be like, because what arrived was as described on menu: deep-fried battered tofu. Not quite as exciting as what I was foolishly hoping it would be.
Soto Ayam $9.50
A traditional Javanese style clear chicken soup served with shaved cabbage, bean shoots, clear vermicelli, sliced tomatoes and boiled egg.
This is another dish of nostalgia. Although admittedly, I hardly ever order this dish on my own accord in Singapore. The dish was nearly like the way I remembered it, but there was just a little something that’s different, or missing. A certain spice… I acknowledge that such a dish would have regional differences, even within Indonesia itself. But because Ees is completely new to this dish, he quite liked how different it tasted. I didn’t mind it too, but just wished it was less salty.
Ayam Goreng $9.90
Deep fried marinated chicken served with steamed rice, shrimp paste chilli and fresh veggies together with hot and sour soup for its perfection
The reason why I like Malay and Indonesian-style deep-fried chicken is because they are not battered to death like their Korean and Japanese equivalents. And I always love the marinade used, which usually features a good dusting of tumeric. This ayam goreng dish was enjoyable, crisp hot chicken with juicy flesh, and a sambal that’s yummy and freshly made. We didn’t touch the accompanying hot and sour soup, we found it very odd tasting! That aspect of Indonesian food, hot sour soups with your rice – I’m not familiar with.
In retrospect, I should’ve skipped the soto ayam and ordered the sayur lodeh (curry mix vegetables) instead. This ayam goreng dish would’ve tasted spectacular when everything’s all mixed with the curry, veggies and sambal.
Es Cendol $3.50
Green rice drops with jackfruit pieces served in coconut milk and brown sugar
Ees and I shared a cendol for dessert. Read my Malaccan dessert post on the best cendol in the world here (haha… okay, I exaggerate). Garamerica is very precise with describing their dishes, cos the cendol contained exactly what was described no the menu again. The cendol was a pretty good dessert, but the Singaporean in me was hoping it was served in a bowl and that there’d be some adzuki red beans in it. It was interesting to have jackfruit feature in the mix though!
This dinner was priced very affordably and the dishes did ignite memories of nasi padang meals I’ve had back in Singapore. There are many other interesting dishes that I’d like to try from the menu, such as the sayur lodeh, gado gado, martabak telur, ikan bakar and sup buntut. So I think a revisit is pretty likely!