It took me at least three years of attending the monthly NY Indonesian Food Bazaar to get around to trying a stand called Mie Tek Tek. I’d passed Chef Andy Sutanto many times as he tossed noodles and rice in his wok. For about a year one of the only things I ate at the movable Indonesian feast that takes place in Elmhurst’s St. James Parish House was bubur ayam, the rice porridge topped with chicken, crunchy soybeans, and spicy peanut sauce. I also had a thing for Pecel Ndeso’s tripe and other offal delights.
For whatever reason though on Saturday, even though I was really in the mood for soup, I decided to try Chef Andy’s Jakartan style street food.
“Which one is the best?” I asked the smiling chef already knowing full well that I was going to order the spicy lamb. After he confirmed my choice, he then made a radical suggestion. A fried rice/noodle combo platter. Glutton that I am, I immediately signed on. “Jakartan people are very adventurous, they like this one,” he said as he added two eggs and some noodles to his wok. Soon after came cabbage, rice, and the spicy kambing as they call lamb in his country.
The resulting dish could very well be the ugly delicious poster child of Indonesian stir fries. While it looks a hot mess, it is deliciously spicy and filling. The lamb itself is a symphony of Indonesian and Middle Eastern flavors combining clove, coriander, white and black cumin, with, galangal, lime leaves, and a nice a chili kick.
When I asked about the name, Chef Andy rapped the spatula on the side of the wok letting out a resounding “tek tek.”
“That’s how they sell it at home, you notice every wok makes a diffrent sound, so we know which one is our favorite,” he said.
These days home for the Sumatran-born Chef Andy is Darien, Conn. In case you’re wondering, he’s not a chef by trade, he’s a bank analyst.
“It’s a hobby it’s rewarding,” he say with a smile as he whips another batch of Jakartan soul food. Chef Andy all the other wonderful Indonesian cooks return to Elmhurst on December 1.