Danny Raskin: Indo Brings Much-Heralded Authentic Indonesian Cuisine



By Danny Raskin
By Danny Raskin

There was a time years ago, when truly authentic ethnic dining restaurants in America were largely restricted to New York, Chicago and Los Angeles and a few scattered others.

However, thanks to the ever-growing presence of immigrants from overseas and the huge upsurges of many diverse cultural food presentations from these native countries, their traditional dishes became highly desired here and grew in large numbers.

There was no question about many of them, insofar as authenticity was concerned … But a problem existed when numerous chefs and cooks said “I can do better” and received kitchen jobs … However, authentic means just that … and nothing else … not even “maybe” or “somewhat.”

Melik and Nick Alonzo
Melik and Nick Alonzo

A chef who completely personifies true “authentic” heads the kitchen as a partner with her husband at the popular Indo Indonesian restaurant on Cass Lake Road, between Orchard Lake Road and Cass Elizabeth, Keego Harbor.

They don’t come any more authentic than Chef Melik Alonzo, owner with husband, Nick … She is from Central Java, Indonesia, and prepares those wonderful traditional family recipes from which folks choose at Indo … Theirs is the only “brick-and-mortar” Indonesian restaurant in Michigan … That brick-and-mortar reference is a traditional street-side business that deals with its customers face-to-face and is generally open to the public at least five days a week … So-called pop-ups in Indonesia generally do not have a set location and present limited presentations at various venues.

Indo is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays … Open Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, noon to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, noon to 11 p.m. … Seating in the dining room is 80 … A liquor license has been recently acquired.

Those folks seeking places that can present dishes no other restaurant has available can certainly look to Indo, where Chef Melik and Nick Alonzo, proudly serve truly delicious Indonesian food … Chicken coconut soup, crispy garlic tofu, stuffed tofu, Rendang (a slowly cooked spicy beef), Ayam Java spicy chicken, Peppercorn Beef, Indo crispy shrimp, Beef Delight, Javanese garlic shrimp, Curry Tofu, Sweet and Sour tofu, sambal eggs, etc. … Plus Jamu, Indonesia’s traditional tumeric and ginger herbal tea … Add these dishes to the regular large selection and you certainly have a wonderful dining adventure.

Indo is noted by vegans for its unusually large dining choices, with special accommodations also made for plant-based vegans who do not eat oil or nuts … There may be small smatterings of Vietnamese dishes, too, like Banh Mi Pate Thit, the baguette sandwich with homemade pate and grilled beef or chicken … But mostly Melik’s colorful and marvelous tasting Indonesian favorites that are with very few ethnic culinary equals.

All dishes may be ordered mild, medium and hot with assurance of it being such … This is only the second anniversary of Indo, but already it has made a most indelible mark in the acclaimed realm of authentic ethnic dining.

The preparation and presentation of Indonesian cuisine at Indo is a truly enjoyable experience.

MAIL DEPT. … From Jim Hiller, former owner of Hiller’s Markets … “When my buddy Mike Sucher comes to town, it’s always a trip in the way-back machine. Mike left for the brown pastures of Arizona to practice medicine in 1974, and we always need to revisit the places and foods of our childhood whenever he comes to visit. This time it was Duly’s Place on Vernor Highway in Southwest Detroit. A fixture in that spot since 1921 and, according to Anthony Bourdain, who ate there in 2014, it’s the only ‘great’ coney dog you can get in a city that serves up lots of good ones. I have to agree! This hole-in-the-wall diner produces stellar Coney Island hot dogs, loose burgers and the best chili ever. A great breakfast is served 24 hours a day (yep, they’re open all night for us insomniacs), along with sandwiches and all the accouterments you’d expect from an all-night diner with about 30 seats, including the counter, in a rough and tumble neighborhood. This is a place that memories are made of.”

DINING DEAL DEPT. … 10-ounce Sea Bass … Complete meal includes soup or salad, potato, vegetable and bread basket … $9.95 … 10 days only … Thursday, Oct. 27, through Saturday, Nov. 5 … No coupons … Siegel’s Deli, West Maple, just west of Haggerty, Commerce Township.

QUESTION & ANSWER DEPT. … “My boyfriend, Syd Millman, and I had hamburgers at Mr. Joe’s, and they were great. But we had a heated argument. He says that the name ‘hamburger’ is just something made up by somebody somewhere. I told him that someone once told me that the sandwich used to have ham in it and was never changed, so I’ve always gone with that. Who is right?” … Shirley Shiffman.

(As far as I know, you might both be off base. The question has come up many times because it still has “ham” in the name. I think it traces back to Hamburg, Germany, where folks years ago used to eat a food called Hamburg steak. The Hamburg steak name made its way to the United States where it was shortened to hamburger. Now kiss and make up.)

OLDIE BUT GOODIE DEPT. … Morris, owner of a small Jewish delicatessen, was being questioned by an Internal Revenue Service agent about his tax return. He had reported a net profit of $60,000 for the year.

“Why don’t you people leave me alone?” Morris said. “I work like a dog. Everyone in my family helps out. The place is only closed three days a year. And you want to know how I made $60,000?”

“It’s not your income that bothers us,” the agent said. “It’s these business travel deductions of $125,000. You listed 10 trips to Israel for you and your wife.”

“Oh, that?” said Morris, smiling. “We also deliver!”

CONGRATS … To Scott Raskin on his birthday … To Kathy Kwiecinski on her birthday … To Hazel Bender on her birthday … To Melissa Litvin on her birthday … To Eileen Finck on her birthday … To Rose Light on her birthday … To Herb and Audrey Saperstein on their 60th anniversary.

Danny’s email address is dannyraskin@sbcglobal.net.

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