>> Toko Rame Indonesian Halal Restaurant | Eat the World Los Angeles

Thursday 28 July 2022

Toko Rame Indonesian Halal Restaurant

Bellflower Blvd. facade

๐Ÿ…ฟ️ Small plaza with parking
๐Ÿฅค No Alcohol

It certainly is not the location that has made Toko Rame last over 40 years. The highway sound barrier walls of the 91 also block out any sight of the neighborhoods you travel through from Carson to Fullerton, and even those driving past on Bellflower Blvd. would have a hard time seeing the small shop tucked into the back corner of its plaza.

But those in the know, know. And they tell their friends about the storefront with a font that looks more appropriate for 1980's Vegas casinos, a few tables inside and a friendly staff, and some of the best Indonesian food in the entire area for quite some time.

Interior of Toko Rame

A very long menu with two big sides shows categories of food that many with just passing familiarity with Indonesian food may find unrecognizable. While often the cuisine is lumped into a group with Malaysian and Singaporean because of many similarities, here there are and have always been distinctly Indonesian appetizers, rice and noodle dishes, and meats and vegetables from many islands in the archipelagic nation.

You will always see the word nasi on Indonesian menus because it is the word that means rice, paired with words like goreng (fried) and some of the many ingredients that rice can be served with. Nasi campur refers to an array of different dishes that center around rice and present meats, vegetables, nuts, fried shrimp crackers (krupuk), fish, eggs, and usually intensely spicy sauces.

Nasi bungkus
Wrapped nasi bungkus.

If you see the word bungkus attached, the whole thing will be wrapped in takeaway style and meant for consumption later. A nasi campur that is wrapped up in a banana leaf becomes a nasi bungkus, just like any of the other versions that make for a meal and a natural lunch box in one package. If you have heard of this place through local media, a food blog, or a friend, you are likely to already have been told that the nasi bungkus ($15.50, above and below) here is a must order.

If you want to be a trailblazer and order something else, at least take one of these wrapped rice packages home since it will look exactly the same as it does served in the restaurant. Resist the urge to get the dish mild even if the proprietor does not trust your spice levels and recommends it because it deserves to be laced with spice at least at the medium level. More chili oil can be served on the side, but it is absolutely better infused into the rice before wrapping.

Nasi bungkus

When you unwrap the banana leaf steam will escape and the stacked ingredients will be revealed. On top of the white rice are layers of beef rendang, a fried chicken drumstick, egg, tofu, vegetables, curry, and the amount of chili sauce you requested. Mixing everything together is just as enjoyable as eating the individual contents separately.

If you do not have a large group, dishes like this are a good way to sample some of the restaurant's meats without full orders of the beef rendang and fried chicken. To sample skewers of chicken sate, you can order the Toko Rame special noodles ($14, below), a plate of fried bakmi egg noodles served with sauteed chicken and shrimp, a fried egg, and two skewers.

Toko Rame special bakmi noodles

The chicken is smothered with a sate sauce that you will want extra servings of, much less sweet than the peanut-heavy versions found on lazy Thai menus and full of depth because of its smokiness and spice. The noodles themselves are satisfying but are meant to be background for the marinated chicken and shrimp they are served with. The plate is about as comforting as food can get.

Do not expect dishes to come out in less than ten minutes, even if you are the only customers. Everything is made pretty much from scratch and has many ingredients, wait times can be closer to a half an hour as they usually prepare everything to come out at the same time. Rest assured the wait is always worth it, maybe just eat a banana before heading over if you are already famished.

Gulai kambing lamb curry

A few items in different sections of the menu show off the foods of the large island of Sumatra, but there may be no better showcase than the wonderful gulai kambing ($20, above). This Sumatran-style lamb curry uses the most tender meaty cuts of lamb you have ever eaten, the meat almost falls apart without any effort.

The smooth finished product is the result of turmeric and about a hundred other ingredients being ground into a paste and cooked in coconut milk. Full kaffir lime leaves join the mix by the end and are served with the lamb and skin-on potatoes. It is just about perfect.

Lontong sayur padang

Another specialty of the restaurant and also perfect for takeout are an array of rice cake dishes known as lontong. The lontong sayur padang ($14, above) includes more beef rendang and centers around a smooth jackfruit curry that is much more mild and pairs well with the rice cakes and egg covered in spicy tomato sauce. Just like with the nasi dishes, you can get lontong with an array of different ingredients which make return visits so rewarding.

You can imagine Toko Rame being around after another 40 years and changing about as much as it has in the first 40. After being told about it from friends, new customers at that time will be so delighted by their meals that they will tell others. Time goes on and food and trends change, but Toko Rame will keep its hand steady and satisfying.


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