Saturday, September 1, 2007

Ethnic Iced Dessert Quest - Part 5: The Es Campur Escapade

It's hot again -- you know the drill. This time we go to da Wesssoiiide! to have us some es campur from Indonesia.

Serendipity is a nice thing. Especially when you think you got it good but you discover you've found it better, or when you think you knew it all but learned something new.

When The Militant went on a recent mercenary mission to Palms some days ago and stumbled on a little retail village in the bendy confines of National Blvd, he stumbled into Indo Cafe on a whim and treated himself to their respective ice dessert treat as a reward for staying in the Westside for that long without experiencing a convulsion (just kidding, Westsiders).

Indonesia, an island archipelago in Southeast Asia, situated between the Philippines and Australia and roughly the equivalent length of the continental United States. Best known as the home of Javanese coffee, Komodo dragons, Krakatoa Volcano and even Barack Obama for a few years, Indonesia is the world's largest predominantly-Muslim country (to the chagrin of the more fundamentalist types in the Arab region who tend to look down on them when they come to Mecca for hajj), which also had a brief colonial history with the Dutch and still has a strong Chinese and indigenous cultural influence. The result of all that: some damn good food.

Their entry into the Militant's ice dessert quest is es campur - which means "mixed ice." Like its regional cousins, it contains water in solid form, condensed milk, sweet red bean and some native fruits, but the ice is not shaved - it's crushed.

Shaved-ice connoisseurs, stop gasping, it's quite good nevertheless, although if you're not into crunching ice with your teeth, maybe this ain't for you. The Indo Cafe menu lists it as, "Toddy palm, jackfruit, seasoned fruit and jello topped with crushed ice with raspberry syrup and condensed milk." The raspberry didn't seem that prevalent as much as a possible rose flavoring. The Militant's only complaint was that the larger, pebble-sized crushed ice bits could congeal into one large micro-iceberg floating in the dish. Compared to the other subjects in this quest, the serving size was relatively small.

As the Indonesian community is comparatively small compared to other Asian groups in Los Angeles (or the rest of America for that matter), es campur isn't that easily found, but for the handful of Indonesian restaurants in town, it's readily available. Simpang Asia's cafe, located just across the street from Indo Cafe, serves it, as well as the Militant's personal Indo-restaurant pick, Ramayani in Westwood.

Es Campur (Indonesia)

Indo Cafe
10428 1/2 National Blvd. (near Motor Ave.)


Item: Es Campur, $3.50

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