Garam Merica

Howard Chen
29th Oct 2023

Garam Merica originally started in Melbourne as a way for Corina Tan to offer Indonesian food for expats who missed the taste of home. As an expat myself, I can totally empathise with that when it comes to regional American specialties, and it's what I appreciate about Australia's multiculturalism. If there's a void, someone will fill it.

It wasn't until COVID-19 where Garam Merica's signature nasi bungkus warteg took off, and with the help of Chef William Wongso it's now landed in Sydney. Nasi bungkus warteg translates to takeaway rice Javanese style, but there's plenty of variety here; it's almost a bain-marie of dreams. 

For $19 you can pick 2 meats and 2 veg, 1 meat and 3 veg, or go 4 veg with rice all wrapped in a banana leaf with gravy. It's a fun little mix and match experience.

I went with 2 meat and 2 veg and ordered the following:

Rendang Daging - West Sumatra Caramelised Beef Curry

Ayam Bakar Ala Padang - Curried Grilled Chicken

Rendang Nangka - Green Jackfruit in Caramelised Indonesian Curry

Dadar Jagung - Indonesian Style Corn Fritters Cake

I'll start off by saying for the most part, I never understood the reverence held for beef rendang. Every time I've had it somewhere the beef is a little too dry or tough, and the curry simply kind of blasé. After trying the rendang here, I get it now. The complexity of flavour here was great: you get sweet, you get spicy, you get umami with hints of coconut coming through and I received extremely tender pieces so I was impressed.

As for the rest of the items, they were OK. I prefer Warung Pojok as there's a bit more intensity of flavour for the same items you can get there, including the rice. The heat level here is also more of a low-medium to medium spicy so you won't get your butt kicked meaning it's great for lunch.

I'm definitely keen to try the other dishes here but I most certainly will come back for the Rendang Daging.