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 ‚ā¨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 (‚ā¨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 ‚ā¨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 (‚ā¨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.