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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 39, Issue 3. 15th March [1976]

Crunch Splutter Crunch — Get Stuffed

Crunch Splutter Crunch

Get Stuffed

get stuffed CRUNCH SPLUTTER CRUNCH get stuffed

Toko Baru

On the corner of Brandon and Featherston Streets a new exotic restaurant opened recently. Toko Baru boasts authentic Indonesian fare; nothing more - certainly not pleasant surroundings. Nor is it cheap.

I looked forward to trying this place, but it was a disappointment in every respect. Looking at the menu, main dish prices ranged from $2.80 - $3.60. The two items on the menu that we chose were these:-
  • Sate Babi ($3.10) Grilled pork on skewers, Raw tomato slices, red onion, cucumber and gerkins.
  • Brown fried rice
  • Peanut sauce (in a side dish)
  • Ajam Ketjap ($3.00 Chicken in a hot (spicy) sauce
  • Raw tomato slices and gerkins
  • Boiled brown rice.

The food arrived after a considerable delay. In both dishes the food came in two plates with a third to mix the food on and to eat off. In the case of the Sate Babi the pork was grilled on skewers, shish kebab style, with about five of these. The meat portions though minute were beautifully tender and tasty. The fried rice was only luke warm as was the side dish of peanut sauce. By way of contrast the raw vegetables were cool and fresh to taste.

With the Ajam Ketjap - much the same story - rice and meat in sauce lukewarm. The chicken (?) was more generous, though tough. Raw vegetables good.

The servings themselves I thought were small as a main course, and certainly would not qualify as a 'feed'. Whether the style of the cookery was authentic Indonesian I am not qualified to guess - but when a dish is lukewarm I presume that it is meant to be hot. A good way to get an idea of the authenticity of a Chinese restaurant for example is to see if there are any Chinese eating there. This is not applicable to Indonesians in New Zealand as I doubt if there are enough to make seeing one there a condition. I believe that the place is run by Dutch/Indonesian expatriates - but I could be quite wrong.

Service: Bad. The waitress/proprietoress(?) was extremely hassled and the wait was considerable. This was Friday night and the place was full. I think that there was only one waitress for the whole place. All around our table were other tables making vocal complaints. I have been told that at other less busy times the waitress takes time to explain the different dishes and methods of preparation to you and this was just a bad night. Equally others have echoed my experience exactly; so I can only tell you of the place as I found it.
The Decor: Shabby. Plastic flowers and vines hang in black latticework. Garish wall paper from another era. This place used to be the old 'Brandon Buffet' - for many years a cheap grill room and luncheon foundery for the surrounding offices. The decor is from that period but is that much older.

Other tables had wine so I suspect it is O.K. to B.Y.O.

To sum up a disappointing meal. At $3.00 or so for a main dish I don't consider that cheap, so I'm not prepared to justify the luke warm dishes, the long wait, poor service and the shabby decor. As for the dishes themselves - their authenticity I will assume and possibly on another night that is for you to decide.

Name: Toko Baru
Type: Indonesian Dishes.
Price: Main Courses $2.80 - $3.60
Where: Corner of Featherston and Brandon Streets.
Rating: ** Disappointing in almost all respects but some hint that other nights may be different as far as preparation and presentation are concerned.


***** All things considered - price/type of place etc. I would go again and encourage my friends to as well.
**** Enjoyed the meal - worth a look if you like that sort of thing
*** Unmemorable or mediocre.
** Remembered with specific complaints
** If you ask me avoid it.

Robert Lithgow