Java Village, an Indonesian steam table joint in Elmhurst, was once a staple of my Southeast Asian food tour. Typically a tour would start with an order of kwetiau Jakarta, a stir fry of Indonesian broad noodles with beef tripe and tendon. Chef Dewi also served one of my favorite comfort foods bubur ayam, congee with fried chicken and a salted egg. Then one day about five months ago Chef Dewi and Java Village vanished.
Last Monday I stopped by Indo Java Grocery to inquire after Dewi’s whereabouts. I was ecstatic to learn that she cooks there every Tuesday. The next day I returned expecting to find a selection of prepared foods for take home. Instead Dewi directed me to a tiny table in the back of the shop. It was laid out with a purple tablecloth that read “Happy Birthday!”
“Today we have bakso Joe,” she said. I’d never eaten her version of the beef meatball soup, but it seemed a perfect choice for a damp spring day. Springy beef balls, siomai dumplings filled with fish paste, and a fried wonton sticking out like a shark’s dorsal fin made for a festive bowl of soup, but the star of the show was bakso telur puyuh. The fluffy homemade meatball hid a surprise, a hardboiled egg.
Doctored up with the sweet Indonesian soy sauce kecap manis and some fiery sambal, the $8 bowl of soup was a great reintroduction to my friend Dewi and her cooking, but next time I’m getting the fried chicken porridge.
Indo Java Grocery, 85-12 Queens Blvd., Elmhurst, 718-779-2241