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Monday, March 8, 2010

Dinner at the Hawaii 5-0

Dede Indonesian and Thai is ridiculous in every fashion. From the floral padded wicker chairs to the fake palm trees lit up like Christmas, it is not unlike dining in an episode of Hawaii 5-0 - without the criminal element.

I've always been a big fan of kitch Asian restaurants. As the only kind of Asian food I experienced until I was at least 17-years-old, this style of kitch brings back happy childhood memories of post-good reportcard celebratory family dinners.

If the laminated specials menus were  to be any indication I  was up for an interesting experience, a highly visable experience at that, as our window table was practically flood lit.

The 80s dining theme extended to the wine list which was offering West Coast Coolers for $6.50. Are West Coast Coolers were still available? Or have these ones been sitting in some dark cool-room since before I was born?

The beers were listed as being from "Tasmania" and "Else Where," which I loved, although I was  dissappointed by a complete lack of Tasmanian wines of either white or red varietals. I did however notice a bottle of red with a "Dede" logo on it upon leaving, shuddering at the idea of a small town Indonesian themed restaurant dabbling in the wine business. Although I'm hopeful that the only thing this restaurant had a hand in producing was the label.

As I am unable to go past a dumpling option at any point, the evening began with a serve of  pangsit, fried dumplings of minced pork, prawn and oriental herbs served with sweet chilli ($6.6 for 4) which were crisp, juicy and freshly flash-fried. The accompanying sweet chilli sauce was of the Masterfoods variety, and I do suspect that many a restaurant would fail to function if no pre-made sweet chilli sauce was available for bulk purchase. If the questionable photography on the menu was any indication it was a featured ingredient in almost all of the available entrees and a few mains.

Next up was calamari cooked in coriander, lemongrass, chilli and coconut milk ($20.5). The calamari was possibly, but not likely, fresh although it was a little on the cool side and not particularly spicy,  tasting mostly of coconut milk.

An accompanying bowl of tumeric-stained yellow rice was cold and dry. But at 10pm on a Saturday night it is hard to find a restaurant that is still serving, so this was a fault I could live with. I was not particularly happy about being charged $3.50 for it though - I think that any Asian restaurant pricing it's mains in the $25 range should be factoring the cost of a bowl of rice into the meal.

Look closely at the picture on the left, and tell me what you think does not belong....

Nope. You're not seeing things (apologies for the dodgy iPhone pictures by the way, it was these or nothing). On the right-hand-side of this dish is a pile of potato wedges with sweet chilli sauce drizzled over the top, a particularly unusual sighting in both Indonesian and Thai cuisine (although correct me if I am wrong).

They accompany the skinniest duck of all time - which tasted of chicken wrapped in duck fat and could have benefited greatly from a heaped spoonful of MSG, if this is any indication of how much help it required. A gomi sauce (which tasted like an Asian sweet balsamic) livened things up a bit but this dish was in no way worth it's $25 price tag.

The highlight of this evening for me was not the food, which certainly gave me no reason to return, but every other element of my dining experience. The atmosphere of a restaurant like Dede Indonesian and Thai cannot be created - it just happens. And thus is the basis of it's appeal.

I loved the gaudy wicker chairs, the elevator music, that our sweet little waitress for had probably never worked in a restaurant until very, very recently and the fact that there were banana fritters on the menu alongside fried ice-cream and pineapple. The 80s are not dead, they live on in Hobart and many another Asian restaurants in regional cities or towns. No pretention, no fuss. Not bad.

Dede Indonesian and Thai
369 Elizabeth St
North Hobart TAS 7000
(03) 6231 1068
Open Mon-Sat 5.30-10pm (and oddly enough, open Sunday on Mother's Day)

9 comments:

Catering Equipment said...

Interesting read! Unfortunately, a lot of Asian restaurants in Australia try to please the Australian palate and by doing so completely deviate from their own authenticity. It's no excuse but I guess that explains the potato wedges and the sweet chilli sauce.

As more authentic cuisine finds its way on Australian restaurant scene, these types of restaurants will have to lift up their game or they risk disappearing from the scene.

Shannon said...

I thought the highlight of the meal was the conversation provided by me?

bri said...

Entertaining review! And despite it all the place is regularly quite full (but mostly with older people).

You know, I used to love this place 8 or so years ago. I used to think it had slowly gone downhill with time, but now I am thinking that it's actually my tastebuds that have evolved... :)

Victor said...

Great fun review of Dede, N. I laughed looking at the potato wedges next to the dry looking duck leg. Every single point you said about the place was spot on. That was how I felt when we first tried the place and food 6 years ago! And, never been back!

Would you care to review the one next door? I heard that was GP's favourite Asian eating place - Vanidol. He uses the place as a benchmark for other SEA eating places. Personally, we have not been there yet.

Anonymous said...

Maggie...great review.

saw ya in the paper

ya gorgeous

Lisa said...

Awkward though the potato wedges may be, I would be secretly pleased by their appearance. Especially with chili sauce, which I've become quite addicted to.

It sounds like one of those places that you're not supposed to take too seriously; I also have memories of such places for good report cards and if my dad won the football pool. We have tons of wonky places like that here where--at the very least--you will have at least one good anecdote for a later date.

Great writing, as always.

Maggie said...

Shannon: Of course the highlight of the evening was you!

Victor: I'm all for Vanidols. Would you and Reb like ot join me one evening? I've eaten there once and I really enjoyed it. I'd like to go again sometime.

Lisa: thank you, you are very kind, as always. Potato wedges are evil, BTW. The ydo not belong in restaurants, especially ones of an Asian persuasion!

Victor said...

Love to, N. I will speak to Reb and arrange one weekend evening.

Ravernaught said...

Potato wedges should only be a vessel for sour cream.