There's a great cup of coffee in Portland that costs only 75 cents. It's light, sweet and has an earthy flavor that makes it the perfect accompaniment for an afternoon meal of meat and peanut sauce. I'm not talking Thai, this is Indonesian food—similar but with hints of Indian and Chinese cooking and spices. The chicken satay ($6.99) is a good place to start for the slightly adventurous eater who can't fully commit to something that's difficult to pronounce. Plus, it comes on a stick, and who can argue with grilled meat on a stick covered in yummy sauce?
It's the unfamiliar at Batavia that requires attention. Mie ayam ($6.99)—a noodle soup made of chicken broth, egg noodles and meatballs—offers a strange flavor combination at first, with the noodles overpowering the subtle broth. The meatballs are intentionally bland, letting the other complex flavors complement one another. In the beef rendang ($6.99), the meat does just the opposite, playing the lead role with its subtle spice and tender texture. It's no wonder rendang, traditionally served to honored guests, was named in a recent CNN poll as the world's most delicious food. It's great, and Batavia's version is fabulous. It's got just enough spice to have a kick but not enough to give you heartburn. Still, your tongue will thank you for following it with lupis ($1.50), sweet rice with shredded coconut and a brown sugar sauce that's more savory than sweet, but makes a great dessert.
- Order this: Beef rendang ($6.99).
- Best deal: Gado-gadoâsteamed vegetables with peanut sauce, fried tempeh, boiled egg and shrimp chips ($4.99).
- Iâll pass: Who needs a sandwich with all this other great stuff?
EAT: Batavia, 239 SW Washington St., 954-7529. 9 am-3:30 pm Monday-Friday, 9 am-5 pm Saturday.