For those of us who live on Miami Beach, it is rare when we find a little gem of a restaurant that has not been discovered by the throngs of tourists inhabiting the W, The EDITION, The Fontainbleau or any of the other South Beach hotels, yet Indomania, on a side street off Collins in what is now being called Mid-Beach is just such a gem.
It was with respect and admiration that months ago, I asked to profile the Dutch husband and wife team of Indomania, Pieter and Henriette Both. I had discovered Indomania one night almost 7 years ago while arriving home late from a flight and its warm candlelit interior looked welcoming. At first, hesitant about possible publicity, over a glass of wine, they shared their passion of Indonesian cuisine and of it’s people.
Located on 26th St between Collins Ave. and the historic boardwalk, Indomania is the only authentic Indonesian restaurant in Miami and has been since it first opened its doors in 2007. Small by Miami standards, Indomania only has 14 tables and 7 seats at the bar and serves 35-40 a seating. Reservations are a must as “word of mouth” has kept the restaurant full every night with a loyal following, many whom eat there more than once a week.
But, after so many years away from family and friends in The Netherlands, Pieter and Henriette decided to return home and sold Indomania to experienced restauranteur, Giovanni Palagiano, who brings with him over 27 years of extensive experience in owning and running successful restaurants for major International hotel chains, and has traveled extensively through Indonesia and Thailand.
The restaurant feels cozy and warm, with pictures and maps of Indonesia on the walls, and batik print tablecloths or bamboo place mats at each table.
On a packed Tuesday night, I stopped in early for a glass of wine ( only wine and beer is available ) and stayed for the traditional Indonesian Rijsttafel, commonly called “Rice Table,” a multiple dish meal of meats( or fish or vegetarian), vegetables and rices.
Giovanni has taken great pride in maintaining the quality of the food and the ambiance, from the well-trained staff, the unique and flavorful menu,, to Head Chef, Franklin Quevedo, who had been the Sous Chef at Indomania since 2011, and previously held positions at both Nikki Beach and at The Dharmawangsa Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia.
But it the food that is what makes Indomania so special. So I wanted to begin by sampling a few of the appetizer items, all designed to be shared.
Before I even looked at the menu, our server, Teguh, greeted us and presented a plate of light, crispy shrimp crackers with a decadent peanut dipping sauce. Unlike the typical peanut sauce , this sauce was obviously homemade and thick, dark, and rich. The shrimp crackers disappeared within seconds.
We decided on three appetizers; Lumpias, three wonderfully crispy vegetarian spring rolls, Perkedel Jagung, lightly sautéed corn cakes with a spicy chili lime dressing, and Martabak, crispy dough wraps filled with seasoned lamb, sort of an Indonesian version of a samosa but much less doughy and heavy.
The dinner menu is extensive, but by far the best way to sample all of the wonderful flavors is to order one of the four Rijsttafels. Priced from $30 per person for the Java or Vegetarian, to $32 per person for the Sumatra and Ocean, these are the most popular items on the menu and, include an entertainment element. Your well- trained server presents all of the dishes at once, then serves you a taste of each item while explaining each dish. The extra portions are arranged artfully on your table and on the accompanying warming tray.
The Rijsttafel Java includes nine main dishes, yellow and white rice, more of those habit-forming shrimp crackers and traditional add on condiments like fried coconut and peanuts or spicy sauce.
The servers are well trained in the both the presentation and serving, beginning first by placing on your plate Gulai Telur, half of a hard boiled egg in a creamy curry sauce , followed by Sate Ayam, the grilled chicken skewer with that decadent thick and rich peanut sauce. A spoonful of yellow or white rice is added along with some of Sambal G Buncis, crispy, spiced green beans and leaving the task of filling the rest of the plate up to you.
Each of the meat and the chicken dish were rich with flavorful sauces that I kept spooning over the rice. Ayam Besengek, boneless chicken in a mild coconut sauce, Babi Kecap, tender pork in ginger, vinegar and sweet soy sauce, and Semurjawa, also slow cooked beef in kecap sauce, a sort of sweet, syrupy soy sauce.
The keep the palate clean so to better savor the many flavors, small dishes of sides of mixed vegetables in coconut sauce, pickles, cucumber and carrots in a tangy vinegar, and Rujak Manis, a sweet cinnamon fruit salad of pineapple and apples were strategically arranged on the table.
Other Rijsttafel options include a Vegetarian option, Sumatra, which includes additional dishes of shrimp, beef stew, and eggplant stew, and Ocean, which replaces the meat dishes with grilled shrimp, local fish grilled in banana leaf, scallops in mild curry and fried fish with tomato ginger sauce.
We finished the meal with a lightly battered and fried banana with homemade coconut ice cream topped with toasted coconut. The batter was so light and fluffy it hardly disguised the sweet, ripe banana.
Best to go as a group, so you can sample multiple dishes, but if you must dine alone., Indomania does offer a Rijsttafel for one, that includes smaller servings of most of the dishes noted. In additional they offer entrée portions of most of the above-described dishes, as well.
Giovanni did share with me his exciting news about now being open on Sundays, offering lunch and brunch and delivery service on Miami Beach. Lunch is specially priced at $9 and $13 and includes choice of main protein(s) and rice and salad. Other sides are also available. And just last month Pieter and Henriette stopped in for dinner while vacationing in Miami.
Word of advice: Make reservations before you go, and parking on 26th St. is a challenge with the addition of a DecoBike rack across the street, but there is a public lot on the west side of 27th and Collins. Maybe Uber over?
131 26th St ( just off Collins Ave)
Miami Beach, FL 33140
305 535 6332