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Sabang, Wheaton - Goes Out With Sabang.

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Has anyone been to Sabang recently. We used to to often, but I haven't been in about 8 months. As I remember it Sabang is a very good Indonesian restaurant. The satays are very good, the soups are extreemly tasty and very authentic, and the rst of the food is very well prepared and presented. I especially like the whole fish in kalio sauce. The location is a little hard to find, and because of that, this place is seldom busy. We never had any problem just showing up and getting a table right away. Indonesian food is probably best described as a cross between Indian, Thai, and Chinese, but distintive in it's own right. One of our favorite ways try a lot of diffenent foods was to have one of the tasting meals for two. There are three or four different ones offered, and all give you a good overview of the food.

I had heard that they were not doing well and I'd hate to see them close up since I always enjoyed it when we went.

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We used to go years ago when we lived in Wheaton but it's been 5-6 years for us. It was a pretty little oasis in the Triangle, with some very good food, we liked the Beef Rendang and any whole fish preparation. Sorry to hear they aren't doing so well, as they have been around and generally reliable for a long time.

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The night we went, this place seemed like it was hopping, relatively. There were three large parties (about 7 each), and only 1.5 (.5=server helping) guys in the kitchen. Things took a pretty long time. But the food was okay. We ended up with a few dishes where the meat was cooked and then the sauce poured on top, rather than integrated together. In some cases, that was a good thing...

Ayam rica-rica (four spicy stars out of a three-star scale) was quite spicy and flavorful. It's the kind that builds until next thing you're red in the face. (I am sweating thinking about it.)

Sabang wok - mixed seafood with veg. in a chaffing dish was quite good with the sauce much more integrated into the food, so a bit better

Beef rendang - tasted pretty good, a little on the dry end, but I think better than Malaysia Kopitiam. Would be much better if it was a chicken option, and maybe a little more heavy on the coconut milk.

Bean sprouts and tofu - It is what it is.

Tongseng kambing - lamb with vegetables with sauce - small chunks of lamb not so impressive

Chicken dish, probably with coconut milk sauce - another sauce on top of meat combination - dry meat, good sauce

I guess I was hoping that things would be more like integrated curries, which was why I liked the sabang wok. I would like to go back and try some noodle dishes though and get warmed up with that spicy chicken dish.

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I had heard that they were not doing well and I'd hate to see them close up since I always enjoyed it when we went.
I'd be sad to see them close too - although it's been 5+ years since I'd been there. I do have a fond memory of taking a non-chowish date there and feeling relief when he was impressed by their distilled spirits bar menu. The Kalio sauce is smooth and spicy - seemed to be a close relation to Thai peanut sauce, but more complex.

They still have an active website. Too bad Tom didn't think of them during his 12/13 Chat - maybe they never were at Amsterdam level - but OK for DC.

Alexandria, Va.: Where can one get a good Rijstafel (Indonesian buffet served at the table on a lazy susan)? I used to love them when I was a student in Belgium but even when lucky enough to find an Indonesian restaurant, they don't always serve them. Please advise.

Tom Sietsema: I haven't found a rice table in the Washington area that compares to the benchmarks in Amsterdam, alas.

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Good company last night, but very uneven food. Our apps were lumpia, crab on lemongrass sticks, and corn fritters with shrimp - decent but nothing exceptional. Mains were beef rendang, shrimp kalio, chicken rica-rica, and the sabang wok. In general I thought that, with the exception of the beef rendang, that the sauces were better than the underlying ingredients.

The other table ordered the $21 rijstafel which included a couple more courses, so maybe someone there could chime in on their meal.

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I was at the other table and heartily agree that the sauces were so much better than the main feature. Because someone else ordered the rijstafel, I'm not sure exactly what we had. There were three dishes that stood in particular - one a spicy fish, another a spicy beer, and the third a spicy shrimp. The meat/fish were merely OK but the sauces were delicious. Some of the other dishes were boring and the soup we started with was pretty miserable (I'm still not convinced that was beef in my soup).

I'd go there again if other people wanted to, but I don't think it's where I would choose to spend my money. I'd rather go a block away to Hollywood East or one of the Thai places in Wheaton.

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From the website:

De Luxe Rijsttafel ($21/person, min 2 people)

1. LUMPIA GORENG ( Deep-fried Indonesian egg rolls )

These were OK, but Corduroy's are much better.

2. SOTO KUDUS or SOTO SULUNG ( Chicken soup or Beef soup )

Soup was eh, beef was terrible.

3. SATE AYAM ( Marinated Chicken satay with peanut sauce )

I thought these were very good. Very moist chicken, peanut sauce had a good kick.

4. GADO - GADO (Vegetable in peanut sauce)

Fine, nothing special.

5. IKAN KALIO (Fried fish in kalio sauce)

Sauce was excellent, fish was fine, but lost in the sauce.

6. OPOR AYAM (Chicken in coconut sauce)

Nice dish, nothing special.

7. BLADO UDANG ***(Hot and spicy marinated shrimps)

I thought this was excellent, the best dish we had, and the shrimp were probably the highest quality ingredient we had in the meal.

8. RENDANG *** (Hot and spicy marinated beef)

The spicy sauce was fantastic, but the beef had little taste.

9. SAYUR LODEH (Vegetable in spicy coconut sauce)


10.SAMBAL GORENG KENTANG dan DAGING (Potatoes & beef in spicy coconut sauce)

Sauce was ok, beef was completely forgettable (seemed like corned beef or brisket)

11. KERUPUK UDANG ( Shrimp Crackers )

Served on top of #9.

12. NASI PUTIH ( Steamed rice )

13. SURENDENG ( Shredded coconut and Green beans with herbs and spices.

Fine, nothing special.

14. ACAR KUNING (Cold Pickled Vegetable in yellow sauce)

Ok, though these are better at every Chinese restaurant in town.

15. PUTU MAYANG ( Steamed rice cake in brown sugar sauce )

Actually a very nice finish to the meal


Not offered to us, though served when requested.

The spice combinations were pretty unique - different than other Asian cuisines. I would consider going back, but would make a meal of all spicy dishes, rather than going with the rijsttafel.

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