Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Bebek Betutu at Ketupat
At long last, our duck was ready, so we marched right on back to Ketupat tonight to fetch our much anticipated bebek betutu (200,000 Rupiah, or US$21.90). It was a bit of a surprise when it came out, as it looked like just a brown lump of mud at first. Of course, those were just the pasty spices covering up the duck inside the banana leaf. After digging in, it turned out to be some of the tenderest duck I'd ever had. The moist shreds just fell off the bones, somewhat akin to pork lau lau in Hawaii. I suppose the slow roasting method probably is pretty similar.
Still, I was looking for more of an edge. While the meat was suprisingly moist and tender, I was hoping for something to knock me off my feet, be it a tongue-singeing spicyness, a crispy fatty skin, or maybe even a hint of smokiness in the flesh. It had none of these. The spices were respectable (that is a big compliment for someone who generally doesn't like the spices used in Indonesian and Malaysian food), but at the end of the day, they still weren't anything to get super excited about. Maybe there are better variations on this depending on where you go? At least the lemongrass-scented rice was really tasty.
Was I disappointed in the duck? Yes, a bit. Did I regret making all this effort (so as to even put a deposit down on it) to get it? Absolutely not. I still got to try a local specialty that is not readily available anywhere else. And like I said, it was really tender, so it's not like it was a bad meal or anything. I would still recommend it to anyone visiting the area and looking for local food in a nice sit-down setting. I just won't be craving it, that's all.
On a side note, this place's sambal chili sauce is very memorable. It wasn't particularly spicy, but the oil used made it very rich and great for dipping prawn crackers in. Yum. I also got an arak-based drink oddly called "Ugly! Buzz!!," which mixes arak, Coke, and a fresh chili pepper. It sounded like something that would provide a real kick, but instead, it just tasted like Coke and alcohol (the chili pepper was intact rather than sliced up or penetrated in any way to get some of that heat out). Finally, we ended the meal with pisang goreng deep fried banana fritters featuring a caramel sauce on the side (not bad; a bit crunchy, in fact), as well as some Indonesian highland tea (it tasted like weak Lipton). Anyway, on to the next meal...
Digested at 9:38 PM
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