Tok Tok Indonesian Soup House: A Warteg in Singapore
By KF Seetoh - Friday, May 25, 2018
In my makan field trips to Indonesia, I noted that one of the more popular eating establishments is the Warteg- a local stye kopitiam, chap chye, cze cha stall, all rolled in one. The name is a combination of warung (small shop) and Tegal (a town in Java) – a “nasi padang plus” little food shop. I had not seen this anywhere else outside of their country. Folks flock there when they haven’t a clue what they want to eat or drink. The menu is huge and it has a loud, local and friendly atmosphere. Now, a humble version of this has made landfall in Singapore. Walk into Tok Tok and it harks back to my road trips in Java. So, Indonesian food need no longer just be about nasi padang, satay, soto or even sup buntut (oxtail soup) here anymore.
The little snack display and order counter, the colours, woody feeling, no frills bench and table set up- all reek of a Warteg. The only difference, is the menu, its way smaller but no less authentic.
The Nasi Campur Bali ($9.90) is their signature rice set and it looks absolutely alluring, especially on a high carb diet day. A blob of soft rice is flanked and pinned under with telor belado (sambal egg), tempe orek (sweet and spicy tempe), stir fried long beans, beef satay, beef rendang, Dedeng belado (spicy beef jerky) and shredded chicken, with even more sambal topped in. It’s sweet, salty, spicy, crunchy, soft starchy, crispy, hard and totally aromatic. Hard to go wrong and not have at least one item to please you here.
They have a cute little nasi lemak lookalike snack pack and downsized version- the Nasi Jinggo ($3.90) – with glazed tempe, Balinese shredded chicken, shredded omelete, own made sambal and rice, plus, more good measure, a portion of fried noodles.
The Mee Bakso ($8) will taste plain and spicy because it is so- the noodle are lightly seasoned and you spoon in a copious amount of the DIY sambal, toss it like crazy, then devour it with shredded chicken, greens and a soup with huge springy beef balls. It’s the simplicity that makes this dish moreish.
Their Sate Ayam (chicken satay, 6 sticks for $5.80) had all the authentic touches in place- right down to the creamy, spicy peanut sauce, crispy shallots showered over plus any amount of kicap manis you like to drizzle over it. But the let-down was the chicken, it came firmer and drier than the ones I adore in Jakarta, largely due to supply quality here. They use fresh kampong chicken back home. The Es Chendol Durian ($3.80) again had all the right notes, from soft pandan jellies, sweeten and soft red beans and slushy soft ice with good grade gula Melaka and coconut milk. The disappointment was the dollop of durian, it came frozen and iced, it irked me. It should be creamy, paste-y cold and soft.
Oh, one more difference, and it’s a big one- there’s no headache-inducing pong of kretek smokes (from clove cigarettes) swirling about here, unlike in wartegs in Indonesia.
Tok Tok Indonesian Soup House
18 Ann Siang Road
Tel: 622 1760