So, the other night a party of three of us went up to the newest incarnation of Nonya, up on Bernard. Nonya started offering up relatively simple Indonesian dishes at a location of St. Laurent down below Sherbrooke a few years back. Our waitress described this as Nonya's "rock & roll" period. They then moved to an ill-fated location on Ste. Catherine just opposite Simon's and the massive Paramount complex. Their menu got more elaborate and their prices went up, but they didn't remain in that location very long. A few months ago now they brought their extensive menu up to an attractive space in Mile End.
We had just finished our Gado-Gado and I had just finished going off on some little spiel about how some of the most important staples in Indonesian cuisine--peanuts and corn, for instance--are actually products indigenous to the New World that only arrived in the "Spice Islands" in the 16th century, but that they've been so thoroughly assimilated that it's as if they'd always been part of the culture (something like peanuts in West Africa), when Mr. S.'s krokett arrived. This was one of the most beautiful creations I've seen in a restaurant in quite some time. Maybe it was because it was so unexpected. Maybe it was because I'm so fond of pears. Whatever the case, we were bowled over by Nonya's faux pear with its Panko-encrusted skin and its sizzled Thai basil stem and leaf. It tasted great, too. The body of the krokett was made up of a mashed potato mixture, with a layer of spiced ground beef near the bottom. It was served in a pool of tamarind-based chutney. Anyway, the funny thing is, upon tasting it I was immediately reminded of the Colombian empanadas I'd had just a few days earlier, even with that Panko coating. It's a small world after all, and it's often a tasty one.
All in all the food we had was quite good--everything from chicken satay to tilapia cooked in banana leaves--but Mr. S. was definitely the big winner that night. Not only did he get that standout krokett but he also ordered Nonya's outrageous roasted Cornish game hen with coconut rice, kecap manis, and stewed chayote.
Nonya also offers a traditional Indonesian rijstafel. You need 2 people minimum, and the prices range from $35 to $55 per person.
They also have a number of vegetarian options on their menu.
Nonya, 151 Bernard West, 875-9998
p.s. Thanks for Mr. S. for the lovely digital pic.--eds.