Last Updated: June 1, 2018
Drive too fast down Jalan Jurong Kechil, and you’ll hardly notice that Krave’s second branch has now given way to Indonesian cafe, Makan Simple.
I live about a 10-minute walk from the place, and I only realised that a new tenant had moved in when the signboard was replaced.
The neighbourhood now gets to enjoy classic Indonesian fare, just minutes away from Beauty World MRT station. The interior of the cafe hasn’t changed much from when it was run by Krave, but Makan Simple’s logo is prominently displayed on the wall now.
The first thing that caught my eye was the Crispy Chicken Skin ($8), something you don’t see often on any menu, besides at maybe food bazaars and fairs.
These were absolutely crunchy and well-seasoned, and gave my jaw a proper workout! I have to give fair warning: you may find these highly addictive and you won’t want to share.
The restaurant is also known for their Satay, which comes in a set of 10 for $10, set of 20 for $19, and set of 30 for $28. The skewers are served in the usual variety of chicken, mutton and beef, and of course, you can mix and match the sets to your liking.
The chicken was soft and chewy, with a marinade that was leaning towards sweeter flavours. The beef, on the other hand, was a bit too tough for my liking, and I found myself struggling to chew through a few sticks.
The sauce wasn’t very impressive, with a more creamy texture as opposed to nutty. But I believe it’s a very personal preference, just like how some people prefer creamy peanut butter to the crunchy variety.
The last time I had unforgettable grilled squid was last year in Croatia, but of course, comparing that to Indonesian Cumi Cumi ($16), would be like comparing apples to oranges. Still, I was very excited when this dish arrived because it looked so good!
All of their mains are served with homemade sambal and rice, and in true Indonesian fashion, the meats are glazed with either sweet and spicy or savoury and spicy sauce.
I loved the tenderness of the squid; it wasn’t rubbery or overly chewy. The sweet sauce proved to be a little cloying after some time, and I didn’t really get that hit of spiciness. But just based on its texture alone, I polished off the two sticks of squid with no fuss.
The Iga Bakar ($18) would be a meat lover’s dream, and the baked beef short ribs are coated with savoury soy and spicy sauce. Once again, there was barely any evidence of heat from the sauce, but after checking with the chef, he said that he had to tone down the spiciness because a lot of families with young children patronise the cafe.
Texture-wise, I wish it could’ve been more fork-tender, but given its affordable price point, there’s very little to gripe about.
I get a tad fussy when it comes to eating a whole fish, mainly due to the tediousness of picking out the bones. But I had to give the Ikan Bakar ($16) a try, because it is admittedly a very traditional Indonesian dish.
The Pomfret is fried and baked, to give it a good crisp exterior, while keeping the flesh moist and flaky. Indeed, it worked, and I had no issues peeling the meat off the bones.
Just like Cumi Cumi, the sauce got the better of me after some time, and I found myself reaching for several gulps of water in between each main.
With an all-Indonesian menu, Makan Simple’s message is very, well, simple. It plays on the humble rice and protein combination that is both homely and fuss-free. However, the overt use of sweet sauce in all their mains did prove to be overwhelming, and it would have been nice to see some variety of flavours in that area.
Also, if you’re thinking their sambal is the spicy kind, you’ll be disappointed; that’s another point of soreness for me. Will I be back? Given its close proximity to home, perhaps.
Would I recommend it? Yes, I still would give it a mention to anyone seeking affordable Indonesian dishes, served in the dressed-down comfort of a cafe setting.
Expected damage: $15 – $30 per pax