Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Neighbors, the Food Supply to the Neighborhood

I could still clearly recalled in my mind, approximately 2 years ago when I knew for the very first time that my friend Pyong, was planning to open his own cafe, following his successful Panna Cotta business - Sweet Tooth. I was amazed by his spirit and capability in bringing his passion into income, especially when he wanted to be even more serious in it. I remembered the time when we met up in Tokyo, talking about the design of the cafe, and how busy he was, having to arrange everything by himself, starting from the venue's interior concept, the logo, even until details like tableware and kitchen utensils. Thus, I was happy for him though I couldn't physically witness it, when the cafe was finally there, opening its door for public for the very first time.

Standing in front of the venue, I was reminded of Gordi HQ in Jeruk Purut, which astonished me that in this kind of isolated area, there was a super Instagenic cafe which apparently would make most photographers couldn't stop snapping. 

Visiting Surabaya for short weekend escape, I had set my plan to visit this hard work of him, The Neighbors. I couldn't agree more that he was very smart in choosing the name of the cafe. It wasn't only ear-catchy, but also a true representative of the cafe itself. Located very close to Pyong's house at West Surabaya area, to be exact Darmo Harapan, the cafe was actually quite remote from the main road. Luckily, the online-map application was able to give clear guidance to head to the place so you needn't worry of being trapped into hassle.  

Perhaps if I should pick a single word to describe the whole set up, I would call it MINIMALIST. OK please allow me to get one more phrase, WHITE ADDICT. Yes, those two terms could perfectly represent The Neighbors. It's so nice being in the place with bright, clean, and simple design. Moreover, the gigantic space turned it to be a flawlessly cozy place to dine, chill, and gather.

Looking at the menu, everything looked pretty affordable with appetizer and main courses ranged from IDR 30k to IDR 65k. I would expect similar foods with similar size being offered at twice as much as the prices here if it's in Jakarta. 

Neighbors Classic (IDR 62k)

The signature menu carried out here was actually burgers. However, they weren't that 100% Western-style ones, since they did add Asian touch into the buns, particularly for the sauces. Japanese and Korean were the ones we're talking about here since they provided choices like Tonkatsu and typical Korean sweet sauces. Even if you didn't opt for those two, I still thought the burger brought Asian characteristic in it, in terms of both toppings and size.

Being a first timer, for sure I opted for the classic of the house, the one occupying the first line on the menu, serving 100gr AUS beef, melted cheese, sauteed onion, lettuce, classic sauce, mayo, and corned beef. It was delightful to get various proteins stuffed between my buns, as I loved the juicy and tender patty, and the corned beef was extra delicacy for me since I did love it being combined with any savory dishes. Not stopping there, sauces did play important role on burgers and it's great that they were generously given in this dish, yet not to the level that overwhelmed the taste of the main components of the burger. Shortly summarized, finger-lickin' good! 

Korean Fries (IDR 34k)
French fries, ground AUS beef, Korean spicy sauce, Neighbors mayo

When ebony was incomplete without ivory, or might be simpler analogy when Spongebob was incomplete without Patrick, perhaps that's one what happened to burger without fries. Not having enough courage to separate this couple that's meant to be together by destiny, I went for the Korean fries to accompany my Neighbors classic. As you might have expected when heard the Korean word there, it was indeed french fries being accompanied with Korean spicy sauce. The interesting fact was it also came with ground Australian beef, and the size was very fulfilling! I wouldn't give too lengthy explanation here, but to say that it was dangerously addictive.

Neighbors Tater Tots (IDR 34k + 5k)
Tater tots, sauteed onion, classic sauce, melted cheese, Neighbors mayo 

Despite that the Korean fries were so good, I still could handle myself on when to stop. However, it's not the case when it came to Tater Tots. I've been loving it ever since I was a kid. I might be not a huge fan of french fries, but I was a lame to Tater Tots even when they were served naked (read: without any additional sauces). Knowing that The Neighbors served it and you just needed to add IDR 5k to change the fries to Tater Tots, I couldn't think of anything else, but it's such an awesome deal! Especially, because they're not merely deep fried then served, but they came with extra sauces and melted cheese! OH BOY, total failure day for the diet.

Korean Chicken (IDR 48k)
Japanese steamed rice, deep fried chicken, Korean sauce, sunny side up

Not a big fan of buns or finding yourself feeling not full yet without having rice? The Neighbors understood you best as they did serve rice. Still stuck to Korean and Japanese influence, they served both versions for their rice bowl, and I luckily got the chance to had both. If your taste bud did fancy sweet sauce more, the Korean version might suit you best. 

For me, the spotlight owner wasn't the sauce though, as what I loved the most was the rice as it's moist and not too dry, absolutely the texture I loved the most for rice. 

Japanese Chicken (IDR 48k)
Japanese steamed rice, deep fried chicken, Japanese curry sauce, sunny side up

Same as the previous one, only that the sauce was Japanese curry this time. Just like the prior dish, the fried chicken was a blissful marriage of crispy batter and mild chicken. The egg yolk was perfectly runny as well so I could enjoy mixing it together with the rice and curry sauce. If the Korean worked well with the palate that preferred sweet sauce, this one suited those who loved savory version more. I might love sweets quite too much, but this time I was in the same boat with those who voted for this curry, as the sauce was ultimately rich of spices, landing simply succulent taste. 

Having had my premiere dining session at The Neighbors, I couldn't agree more that my friend was apparently not only talented in handcrafting sweets, but also savory dishes. If you happened to think that I might be bias since he's a friend of mine, you gotta give it a try yourself then you could give your own judgment :). Final sayings, another visit would certainly be there for me.

Taste: 8/10
Place: 8.5/10
Service: 8.5/10
Price: 8.5/10

Address: Jl. Darmo Harapan Utara IX Blok EN 12
Phone: (+62) 878 5110 1122
Operating Hours: Tue - Sun 11am - 10pm, Mon closed

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