“Ah yes I remember you from last time,” the waitress from Asian Taste 86 said. “Soto ayam, with lots of sambal.” Last time was a month ago when I had a cold and had come seeking comfort in the form of the yellow Indonesian chicken soup known as soto ayam. When I have a cold I tend to subsist on matzo ball soup from Knish Nosh and gingery chicken and rice soup spiked with plenty of garlic and chilies from Eim Khao Man Gai. Usually I reach a point where I bring out the big guns, like a bowl of the Indonesian chicken soup, with plenty of fiery sambal and lime.
Despite its generic name Asian Taste 86 is an Indonesian restaurant. The menu skews toward Surabaya cuisine from the capital of East Java. Asian Taste 86 serves soto ayam Surabaya style—tinged yellow from plenty of turmeric—with a heap of koya, a pungent powder of mixed prawn crackers with fried garlic. The piping hot broth brimming with shredded chicken was most restorative, particularly after the addition of a tablespoon of bright orange sambal. As I sipped it, alternating between spoonfuls of rice to tame the fire, I began to feel like a new man.
Asian Taste 86, 86-10 Whitney Ave., Elmhurst, 718-779-8686