A friend of mine and I made a sudden plan to have dinner together tonight and her, never experiencing Indonesian food before, I suggested Gado Gado. I love Indonesian dishes which is a mixture of Oriental Asian and Southeast Asian cuisines. There are many similar spices and ingredients in that part of the world, plus the way dishes are prepped and cooked share common techniques.
Gado Gado in NE Portland is a casual and bustling place with dimmed light and soft decorations. The eatery boasts for their pan-Asian/Indo-Chinese & Dutch-Indonesian plates. There is an outdoor but shaded sitting option too. With friendly service and a couple of different menu options, this is one of the top Indonesian places to try out in Portland.
There are 2 ways you can order in Gado Gado. One is order from the a la carte. Second one, called Rice Table experience, is more exciting. With the Rice Table experience, you pay $85 per person but you get a family style feasting encounter, where everyone has to participate and your whole table will be filled with many items from appetizers all the way to desserts.
Since it was only 2 of us, we ordered total 3 items from the menu. First came the chicken satay as an appetizer. They were beautifully charcoal grilled on skewers and served with peanut sauce on the side. Then came the main entrées. Charcoal grilled albacore with fermented turnips in a pool of coconut broth with tons of cilantro had a fabulous fresh scent of fresh lime/lemon leaves. Last one, “Sumatran Style Beef Rendang” was recommended by our server. The beef came with a side of scented coconut rice, boiled eggs, shrimp crisps, and sambal sauce. The beef was soft and almost looked like shredded/pulled beef with perfect amount of spices and a slight kick of chili.
There dessert menu is not that great currently (only had one option – orange cardamom donuts). But if you want to get out of your comfort zone and try something not-so-popular cuisine, I can bet everyone will love Indonesian dishes. I’ve heard about Gado Gado from few different people and it definitely served my expectations.