Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Trying out foodpanda with Warung Surabaya

It was a stifling hot afternoon. Mom did not feel like cooking dinner, and neither of us felt like going out for dinner or even to da pau (pack food) back. Our fridge was near empty as well as we were only going to the supermarket the next day. 

So what to do? At 6pm we decided to check out food delivery websites. 

I admit, we were a bit late jumping on the bandwagon. There are threads on HardwareZone sharing coupon codes and the things people have ordered using food delivery services. Mom told me that a friend's son uses these services every day even, because he does not like what their domestic helper cooks!

Probably the two most well known food delivery services are Deliveroo and foodpanda, and before placing an order it is a good idea to check the internet for coupon codes that can give you a discount on your order. There usually are coupon codes floating around that can help offset the increased menu prices and delivery charges. This time unfortunately, because there did not seem to be any coupon codes for use with Deliveroo whereas foodpanda had a 25% discount for Standard Chartered credit card holders, we decided to use foodpanda.

Remembering the delicious grilled milk fish we had in 2013 at Resto Surabaya (now known as Warung Surabaya), we decided to try out the Indonesian cafe again.

The menu descriptions of our order are as follows:
  • Cah Kacang Panjang: Stir fried long bean in balachan.
  • Ayam Penyet Surabaya: Surabaya style smashed fried chicken served with crispy flakes, fried tofu, tempe and balachan chilli.
  • Tahu Telor: Deep fried egg and tofu with shrimp paste and peanut sauce.
  • Gado Gado: Mixed vegetables in peanut sauce with rice cake, tauge, cabbage, tofu, tempe, egg, long bean, carrot and cracker.
  • Soto Ayam: Chicken soup cooked with Indonesian herbs and spices served with shredded chicken, rice vermicelli, cabbage and egg.
  • Bandeng Tanpa Tulang Bakar: Grilled boneless milk fish marinated with rich spices, served with sweet and spicy chilli.
Getting through the ordering process was pretty easy. (What was actually more difficult was finding the coupon codes earlier!) Within the 40-minute estimate given by foodpanda, our order arrived.

Top plastic container: long beans; Lower plastic container: Soto ayam soup
Styrofoam containers clockwise: Gado gado, tahu telor, grilled milk fish, ayam penyet 
The picture above shows how the food was packed. I was quite pleased that there was no spillage, the styrofoam and plastic packaging were not greasy or oily, and the soto ayam noodles, the gado gado crackers, and the various sauces were all packed separately so that things would not get soggy while travelling to us.

I have to apologise for not taking more pictures - we were starving and could not wait to try out the delicious looking food.

First off, the tahu telor, a dish I test at every Indonesian restaurant. The way the deep fried egg and tahu cubes looked, if I did not place the order myself I would have thought it came from Tambuah Mas. It looked like Tambuah Mas' tahu telor. It was as crispy as, and tasted like Tambuah Mas' tahu telor. The only difference lay in the sweet peanut sauce that you are supposed to drizzle on the dish. Warung Surabaya's was thick and packed with peanut bits, whereas I remember Tambuah Mas' to be slightly more diluted with much less peanut bits. We love having extra textural crunch, so thumbs up for Warung Surabaya's sauce.

In comparison, the gado gado sauce was pretty liquid compared to Tambuah Mas'. It had a texture closer to that of watery soup with finely ground peanuts like what you get with muah chee. Additionally, it tasted a little strange, so I used the tahu telor sauce instead. We definitely preferred Tambuah Mas' gado gado sauce - thicker and a little like satay sauce.

I thought that the ayam penyet was standard and met expectations. Lots of "crispy flakes", so it will work for people who like eating fried chicken encased in lots of batter. The meat from the whole leg (drumstick and thigh) had sufficient flavour and was moist.

Perhaps I am not used to Indonesian soup, because the soto ayam tasted suspiciously like chicken maggi mee soup and had a similar colour. It was amazingly saltish, but I do not think it contained MSG at least, as I did not have any MSG-thirst after. The soto ayam came with a good portion of rice noodles packed separately in a bag with some shreds of raw cabbage, half a boiled egg, and some chunks of fried chicken breast meat with "crispy flakes".

When we eat at Indonesian restaurants we usually order sambal kangkong as that is a favourite vegetable in the family. But I think another good test of a restaurant's capabilities is long beans, whether it is able to choose long beans that are not old and tough, whether it is able to cook the beans al dente so that they are firm to the tooth, but not raw-firm. The balachan that came with the long beans tasted good, but there was too little of it, and instead way too much oil. The long beans were simply a limp and soggy overcooked pile sitting in thick oil, not appetizing at all. Pity.

And lastly, the dish we were all waiting for, the grilled milk fish, turned out to be a disappointment. It arrived at room temperature, which was surprising since the soto ayam soup arrived piping hot. In fact, every other dish arrived at room temperature, so we were wondering whether we had been served food that was freshly cooked or that had already been sitting around. Next, the fish was tough and dry - signs of overcooking. The spices and sweet gravy rub it was marinated with was actually not too bad, but these are not things that can save overcooked meat.

Verdict? On the whole, ordering from foodpanda is an easy process and I would do it again. If coupon codes could be more easily found, it would certainly make the process faster. I think the 25% discount more or less set off the increased menu prices (around at least 50 cents per dish) and $3 delivery charge from foodpanda. But if you asked me whether I would order from Warung Surabaya again, my answer is "probably not" unless I ordered only tahu telor, ayam penyet and ayam bakar.

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