Tuesday, May 26

Boulevard Bites: Ramayani offers authentic, affordable Indonesian cuisine

From Indonesian snack items to traditional Indonesian music, Westwood's Ramayani offers an authentic Indonesian dining experience to its customers. (Miriam Bribiesca/Photo editor)

Finding a delicious restaurant in Los Angeles can be difficult amongst the city’s thousands of dining options. To help readers narrow down their search, the Daily Bruin will review restaurants located along main street boulevards near UCLA each week.

A flyer-covered window and a faded yellow awning hide one of Westwood’s only Indonesian restaurants.

However, this quaint and cozy restaurant on the edge of Westwood houses a dining experience that diverges from more mainstream Southeast Asian cuisine. Ramayani boasts an impressive menu with a diverse range of authentic and well-prepared Indonesian food, including coconut rice and spicy chicken curry.

When first walking into the restaurant, patrons pass racks of purchasable Indonesian snacks, such as chips and tea. Indonesian music plays inside, adding to the traditional ambiance.

The menu also captures the restaurant’s authenticity. On the menu is a note by the owner, detailing the origins and mission of the family business. Along with describing how the restaurant grows several of its herbs and spices in its backyard, the menu also explains which dishes are family recipes like gado gado, an Indonesian salad, and satay, a skewered meat dish.

Since the menu uses traditional Indonesian names for its dishes, ordering may be overwhelming for those inexperienced with Indonesian cuisine. The vast diversity of dishes – from jackfruit curry to chicken satays – can make choosing a meal even harder. However, the restaurant offers pictured suggestions and recommended specials to make the ordering process simpler.

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The servers recommended Ramayani’s special Thai tea to start off the meal. The restaurant twists the classic drink to fit the Indonesian palate by adding rich undertones of coconut, a central flavor in Indonesian cuisine. The tea also has a light honey taste, making it less sugary than classic recipes.

Nasi Uduk is one of the restaurant’s signature plates. Featuring coconut rice served with tofu curry, chili beef, fried chicken and corn fritters, Nasi Uduk boasts an incredible range of flavors including sweetened coconut milk and spicy beef braising. The steamed coconut rice is fragrant without overpowering the dish and complements the tofu and string bean soup, which is similar to a Malay-style curry. Another highlight of the rice combination platter is the juicy fried chicken, topped off with crispy coconut flakes and spices. The fritters, although a great balance of crispy and tender, lacked the same amount of spice and flavor of the other dishes in the entree.

The Bakmi Goreng, or egg noodles with shrimp, is topped with lightly scrambled eggs, stir-fried vegetables and seasoned shrimp. The crisp bok choy and crunchy celery pairs with the thick, starchy taste of the egg noodles, creating a balanced texture in each bite.

The Ayam Kare, or chicken curry, is one of the weaker plates on the menu. The chicken is juicy, but covered with a layer of fatty skin that can be difficult to remove. Using a fork and knife to slide off the layer of fat takes an excessive amount of time and inevitably leads to a piece of drumstick stripped of curry flavor. The curry itself is tasty, with a strong flavor of coconut milk and aromatic spices; however, the floating grease detracts from the dish’s boldness.

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The menu offers a range of different flavors for a reasonable price. Some dishes, especially the rice combinations, may be more expensive due to their range of flavors and preparations. However, the large portion sizes make the items worth their value.

With a wide selection of flavorful Indonesian dishes to choose from, Ramayani proves to be a shining gem hidden on the outskirts of Westwood.

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