Update 28.01.19: Unfortunately, this restaurant has closed.
The other evening, when I asked Siti Harliyah Strauch if hers was the only Indonesian restaurant in Leipzig, she corrected me: “No – in all of Saxony!”
She has other reasons to be proud of her Makanan in Reudnitz: At just one year old, the family-owned restaurant is on the Michelin list, and someone on Trip Advisor calls it “the best Indonesian restaurant in Germany.” Not all the reviews are so enthusiastic, but nothing scathing.
I regularly eat Southeast Asian food in Leipzig, especially Vietnamese. In fact, I avoided ordering a dish with coconut milk sauce at Makanan because I have it too often elsewhere. I can’t remember ever having tried another solely Indonesian restaurant in Germany, though, so I can’t draw a fair comparison here.
I did like the food, the atmosphere and the staff at Makanan.
Originally from Bali, Mrs. Strauch came to Leipzig 17 years ago to study economics and ended up staying – along came marriage, then kids, then business. (A life story more than a few of us may be familiar with, at least in part.) Besides her restaurant, soon she’ll have her hands full with a grandkid, from her daughter.
She also told me she’s only got three to four employees working at Makanan. And she’s got a big menu to cook up. But she answered all my questions and requests patiently, and with a smile.
“What does ‘Makanan’ mean?”
“Essen – food.”
“Is your menu on the Internet?”
“Yes, but it’s an old one – we change it every two months.”
“Is your food from all over Indonesia or from a particular region?”
“Can you please bring me some chilli?”
I’m chilli-sensitive but refuse to accept it. I must admit I tried a little bit too much of Mrs. Strauch’s home-made chilli, and could feel it corroding my insides. But it is quite tasty, and I’ve since recovered.
Totally worth it.
I sat shoeless, with legs crossed on some cushions throughout my meal. You can sit at higher tables with chairs at Makanan, or at low tables set across a carpeted area, perhaps to help you feel like you’re in a Bali beach bungalow.
The decoration did make me feel like I was sitting in a restaurant in Indonesia. That’s what I imagine a local upper-scale food joint looking like there, though I’ve never been. But a sizeable meal (rice and veggies included) goes for about €13 on average at Makanan, which is okay for Leipzig. It’s got options for meat- and non-meat-eaters alike, including vegan.
I ordered the opor ayam kuning: baked chicken fillet with turmeric and coriander ginger sauce (€12). I recommend you have it with bandrek, a spiced Indonesian drink that tastes like candy at just the right sweetness, and cleans your palate so you get the full flavor of the dish. My boyfriend and I shared a kettle for €4.
But when I saw my boyfriend’s dish, I must say I had a serious case of food envy. Onto the table came pencok gurame, a magnificent fried Asian carp, swimming in coconut kencur lemongrass sauce (€15). I instantly dove for it with my fork, and the sauce was so delicious. The fish was a bit difficult to get through, with the many bones and other inside parts – I was finished with my food way before my boyfriend was.
The next day, we were still filled with Indonesian food to the brim.
And we are sure to be again, on another special occasion. This is the kind of place to which you’d want to take your food snob of a family member, or a dear one for their birthday or some proposal they won’t be able to refuse. Or invite your favorite friends or business partners to partake in a big event. There’s also plenty of space.