Revisiting Rice Bowl II for Tasty Indonesian Cuisine

Categories: On the Menu

Photos by Mai Pham
Telor belado, Indonesian eggs, shown here are two orders to go
It's easy for a restaurant to become old news. Case in point: Rice Bowl II, which got some buzz a couple of years back, has fallen a bit off of the radar lately. But just because it's not getting the buzz that it used to doesn't mean that it's not just as good today as it was a couple of years ago, when Robb Walsh went there with his Indonesian friend Ecky Prabanto.

So today, we're revisiting an oldie but a goodie for some Rendang Sapi, those tender, sliceable-with-a-fork chunks of beef slow-cooked in an Indonesian-style curry. One order for $9.99 will get you about six hunks of marbled beef chunks in a sweet-but-spicy, milky, orange-mustard-colored sauce. The Indonesian equivalent to a hearty beef stew, this dish is savory to the hilt.

Rendang Sapi, Indonesian beef curry
And if you haven't yet tasted the telor belado, a simple dish of eggs unlike any other you will have tasted, you're missing out. It was number 68 on Robb Walsh's Favorite Dishes list, and it's definitely up there on my own personal favorite list. The flash-fried eggs develop a kind of brownish, weblike film on the outside, giving a chewiness to the egg white, and a generous mound of sweet and sour chili paste transforms the egg while igniting your palate with a bit of spicy fire.

Water spinach stir fried in garlic
Even their ong choy, or water spinach, sauteed simply with garlic, is a standout. Unlike Vietnamese preparations, they do something to give the vegetables a smokiness. The vegetables are sauteed just-so, so that they're still bright green (they turn dark green when overcooked), with a bite to the stalks.

Rice Bowl's exterior is not for the faint of heart
True, the neighborhood is a little suspect, and the entrance may scare you (there are white bars on the doors outside). The furnishings are on the okay side of shabby, and the restaurant bills itself as a Chinese Restaurant. But make no mistake, this place makes great Indonesian food, and if you haven't been there in a while, it's worth a revisit. If you haven't been there ever, prepare yourself for a super-tasty quality meal for two, all for less than $30.

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Location Info

Rice Bowl II

14360 Bellaire Blvd, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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My Voice Nation Help
Doc Ricky
Doc Ricky

Smokiness in vegetables probably due to belacan.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

I'm not familiar with this ingredient, belacan. What is it? I thought the smokiness had to do with the heat of the wok.


Usually "cah kangkung" uses terasi - that's how belacan is referred as in Indonesia. However I don't think it causes smokiness, and leaning more toward the cooking method as the reason; a sizzling hot wok is a good suspect.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

the link you gave me to wikipedia said they were the same thing. but liquid smoke works. :)

Doc Ricky
Doc Ricky

Belacan and mam ruoc are different things. Belacan is fried, and then dried into a brick. Hence, some smokiness. Common prep with Indonesian and Malaysian cooking.

Or maybe it's just liquid smoke.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

Ok. I know what it is, it's a regular ingredient, "mam ruoc" used in Vietnamese cooking. And no,  I don't think that's what I was tasting, because it's used quite frequently in the Vietnamese preparation of this same ong choy dish. Belacan, aka mam ruoc, would make it saltier and give it more umami, since it's a shrimp paste. I taste smoke in this dish. It's lovely. I do think it's the from the heat of the wok they use, which I can't replicate at home because I can't get those same high temperatures.

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