Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Java Spice

With the recent closure of two Indonesian restaurants, Java Spice seems to be one of the few remaining restaurants specializing in Indonesian cuisine. Once owned by professional poker player John Juanda and his family, Java Spice has come under new ownership in recent times.

The restaurant is small, but tidy. The walls and interior space are sparsely decorated with Indonesian adornments. With the relatively small Indonesian community in Southern California, everything Indonesian seems like the TV show bar Cheers, where you can’t help but run into someone you know.

The Es Durian is sort of like a shake. Take some over ripe durian, if there is such a thing, mix it with some crushed ice and condensed milk, and you have this concoction which will send most Southeast Asians into ecstasy. Durian, known as the king of fruits, is definitely an acquired taste and smell. For the uninitiated, durian sort of smells like athletes foot with an underlying sweet funkiness.

The Ikan Goreng Tilapia Tuaco is a very large tilapia which is deep fried. Large cuts are imbedded into the flesh to let the sweet, pungent and spicy sauce to get into every nook and cranny of the fish. The flesh is firm, yet moist and the sauce gives the rather tasteless fish a life of its own.

The Beef Rendang is slow braised beef in a curry sauce. Unlike most rendeng’s that I have had, this version was rather sweet instead of the normal spice that is usually associated with this dish. The sweetness and richness of coconut milk bursts with each bite of the very tender cubes of beef.

The Ayam Kalasan is twice cooked chicken. The chicken is first cooked in coconut milk, then deep fried. The coconut milk imparts a subtle sweetness to the chicken. The finished chicken is then deep fried to give the bird a deep golden brown hue and to also make the skin crispy. Although the coconut milk should keep the chicken moist, there were part of the chicken that were overly dry.

Even without the star power that John Juanda would bring to the restaurant, Java Spice is a good option for Indonesian food at a very reasonable price.

Java Spice
1743 Fullerton Road
Rowland Heights, CA 91748
(626) 810-1366


Chubbypanda said...

Durian! Yeah!

I've never had Indonesian food. There just aren't any restaurants close enough to make it convenient.

Vegasbuff said...


I take it you're a durian lover. Although I'm no expert, Indonesian food is fairly similar to Malaysian food. They have some Malaysian dishes at Tropika in Tustin.

elmomonster said...

Ah, now it clicks. I was talking to you guys at breakfast today and mentioned that John Juanda didn't own it Java Spice anymore, and it turns out I READ IT FROM YOUR BLOG! HAHA! Great to meet you guys!

Vegasbuff said...


Great meeting you as well. I think I read in one of your posts that John Juanda once owned it, LOL.

Wandering Chopsticks said...

I ate here when it was Secret Recipe and didn't think it was very good. Then when it changed ownership, I meant to go back and just haven't gotten around to it...

Bali Island in San Gabriel closed recently too.

Vegasbuff said...


I never ate here when it was Secret Recipe, but the tilapia is worth going back for on it's own. Just a magnificent dish.