I just love trying out new restaurants, and with the company of close friends, the experience is made even better.
To try something new, Karen and I went to try out this quaint Indonesian restaurant (she knows I’ve been dying to try out something more exotic than the regular Chinese and Japanese fare) called Pondok Mutiara Restaurant located near the Chongshan High School MRT Station (just turn right after exit and walk for 5 minutes)
My basis for the choice? Taiwan fun which featured this place on its June issue. http://taiwanfun.com/north/taipei/dining/0608/0608Pondok.htm
As recommended, we ordered the Gado-Gado, the Curry Fish Head and Ba-Dong Beef Dish, in addition to the yellow rice as our staple:
The Gado-Gado or Indonesian salad was tasty — local Indonesian chips, tofu, bean sprouts, and veggies mixed in sweet peanut sauce. It had the perfect combination of sweet and crunchy that the Pinoy in me loves so much. What’s more, it was a mere NT$120! Wohoo!
On the other hand, the Ba-Dong Beef Dish, another house specialty, served exactly four pieces of meat in dark brown curry sauce reminiscent of the dishes I’ve tried in Myanmar (though then it was way better). Not the best I’ve ever eaten, but not so bad either.
Meanwhile, the Curry Fish Head was okay though its price was slightly steep at NT$490 an order. And no surprise! The dish contained a huge piece of what else — fish head — along with its fatty trimmings, in addition to string bean, tomatoes, broccoli and other veggies.
The curry sauce was plentiful but was of thin consistency. The veggies were okay, but the fish, despite its size, didn’t really have a lot of meat on it. So Karen and I were left picking out bones and trying not to eat the fatty parts.
Definitely order the Gado-Gado, while try the other dishes on the menu. There are tons and most are at reasonable prices to choose from.
Oh, and as for the 1,000-layer cake (NT$250 a box, NT$120 for 4 slices) touted by media and Taiwan Fun as a pretty good dessert, if it’s the dessert served with the weak Indonesian coffee I ordered, suggest to give it a pass and try something else. It’s good, but not THAT great.
Service-wise though, the owners put a lot of heart into it as they themselves are the ones who take the order and serve the food.
Unfortunately, due to a lack of manpower, it takes them quite a while (actually, till after you leave) to clear most of the plates after you eat. So you’re eating dessert in a table full of empty, dirty plates. Yuck!
However, the owners take away your irritation with a smile. Listening to their heavily Indonesian-laced accents, you return their cheerful demeanor with a smile of your own and shrug their forgetfulness away.
Atmosphere / Ambience
Though not the perfect venue for first dates, the Pondok Mutiara Restaurant is an ideal restaurant for good friends wanting to try a wide variety of dishes not easily accessible around Taipei (and yes, Indonesian food is slightly different than Thai so don’t get the two mix up). Its decor shouts an Indonesian home-made feel, and though slightly old in interior, has a cozy feel special to this particular restaurant.
Bottomline is, it won’t impress, but it serves its purpose of communicating its being an authentic Indonesian restaurant right smack in Taipei.
The best thing about Pondok Mutiara is that it’s reasonably-priced. With all the dishes we ordered, the bill only came out to NT$1,150 or around NT$575 a head)!
Okay, so it’s not as cheap as Skylark or McDonald’s, but for bringing Indonesia to Taipei without boarding a plane, I still think it’s a sweet deal. And rest assured, I’d be coming back to try out their other dishes very soon!