Sky Full of Bacon

#35: Indonesia for the Windycitians!

Anchovy crunchies, for snacking on while fighting your way through the media hordes at Angin Mamiri.

A couple of months ago I was taking my kids to a 4-H meeting and I saw a sign on Touhy announcing that a dead Filipino restaurant was about to become an Indonesian restaurant. Cool, I thought, that’ll make a nice little discovery on my part…

It is to laugh. The thought of Chicago finally getting a lone Indonesian restaurant again (after the closing of August Moon nearly a decade ago) inspired something of a frenzy in the foodie media community, summed up by this Twitter post a few days ago (I won’t say Tweet, I won’t) by Mike Sula of the Reader:

Foodmedia hordes descending on new Indonesian Angin Mamiri ( I was 1 of 3 sched interviews today. Hi @mmxdining

Mmxdining is a writer from Metromix, incidentally. As it happens, though, none of those places have actually put their review up yet that I can find, so thanks to the Sky Full of Bacon hyperefficient review generation and approval system, it looks like I’ll be going first after all, albeit probably only by hours.

Actually, media frenzy was not at all in evidence when I went in about 1:30; the three generations of Indonesian family (older parents, grown daughter, her teenage daughter) were scattered around the dining room doing odd jobs, as if it were their living room. They quickly packed up and got back into customer mode. The menu is relatively short— a few curries, a few noodle dishes, lots of sates— and I had to admit the brevity didn’t encourage me, it looked like a menu whose high points would be exhausted quickly. As soon as I asked DeeDee, the grown daughter, what she would recommend, though, she kind of brushed the menu aside and started talking up the special:

—and more to the point, the fact that they planned to have something special and different every day. The menu was much more of a starting point, she suggested. I wasn’t entirely sold by the sound of the special, which looked like fried with a side of more fried, but DeeDee was persuasive, so I went for it and another (fried) appetizer, risole.

I also tried the one Indonesian drink in the cooler, a very sweet, flowery tea:

In my limited experience Indonesian is sort of like Thai, but even more comfort-foody. That was certainly the case with the risole, which is sort of like an egg roll crossed with a chicken pot pie, and pretty damn indulgently delightful. The main dish was in the same vein:

Fried chicken (just about worthy of the Thai fried chicken at Spoon or TAC), potato croquettes (reminiscent of some of those Japanese potato dishes which seem like grandmother food from an alternative universe), and a spring roll, along with some rice topped with, and subtly tasting of, toasted coconut. A lot of fried stuff, but all done with a judicious hand, and the little hot pickle-chutney stuff at the side was tasty. Best of all, it really seemed homemade, and so I asked DeeDee when she came back about who did the cooking. She said her mom, Ida, is the main cook, does it all, even rolling the spring rolls and risole herself. They’re starting out with a basic menu but will have new specials all the time; they’re also thinking about how to do a rijstaffel, the traditional Indonesian banquet/buffet from Dutch colonial days, probably as a special dinner event using some sort of advance ticket system.

I asked DeeDee if they had had a restaurant before, somewhere else, and she said no, they’ve lived in Chicago for 25 years, and cooked things for Indonesian festivals, and people always asked where there was an Indonesian restaurant, and for years they said they were going to open one. (The name, incidentally, means “wind” or “breeze,” she said.) Now they finally have; and it’s a good one with potential to be a very good and culturally important one. Don’t just read the food media about it; support it now, and help it grow into what it could be.

Angin Mamiri
2739 W. Touhy
(773) 262-6646

An earlier, stranger experience with Indonesian food.

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