There are many facades to Indonesian dining due to the diversity of its cultures, and it stretches beyond the Nasi Goreng, Satay, Beef Rendang and Oxtail Soup we are more accustomed with.
Sama Sama by Tok-Tok at Jewel Changi Airport brings about quite a diverse range of Indonesia’s home-style comfort food in a modern yet cosy setting.
From the restaurant you can have a view of the Rain Vortex.
In the Indonesian language, Sama Sama means “you’re welcome”.
The name reflects that joyful spirit of togetherness, making this a good venue not just for solo dining but for group meals with family and friends.
Created by the same team behind Tok Tok Indonesian Soup House, you get a menu of authentic yet somewhat unfamiliar Indonesian dishes, which recipes are collected from all around Nusantara (the archipelago of Indonesia).
I did spend a while flipping through its menu (which came without photos but there is a QR code that leads you to them), many of the dishes come with longer descriptions and even explanations of its origins.
There is this learning process involved which I found rather enriching for a foodie.
Engage yourself and your taste buds in this unique Sama Sama experience with these recommended dishes, steeped in history and tradition.
Ayam Bakar Taliwang ($29)
This to me is the highlight. Order the Ayam Bakar Taliwang, a spicy dish that gives you a hefty 500g of whole chicken.
This dish, a culinary icon of Lombok, hailed from Karang Taliwang, a village nestled in Lombok’s capital city Mataram. Its recipe is said to have originated from the nobilities of the Sasak people who live on Lombok Island.
Its signature marinating process is done Lombok-style where the whole chicken is spiced with freshly pounded black peppercorns and purified sea salt.
Once well-seasoned, the chicken is grilled whole until fork-tender juicy. It is best paired with Plecing Kangkung, a steamed water spinach side dish topped with tomato chili sambal.
Aside from the chicken, expect a medley of sides including vegetables like farm-fresh cucumber, tomatoes, long beans, and kemangi or lemon basil, a hybrid of basil and American basil.
Tip: You can also top-up to add some exclusive house-made sambal (available at $4 per portion), including Sambal Embe, Sambal Matah, Sambal Daun Jeruk, and Sambal Goreng Terasi to your meats for a more authentic-fiery dining experience.
Sambal Embe is Balinese style red shallots chili salsa with coconut oil, while Sambal Goreng Terasi uses lemongrass and kaffir lime. (Did you know that Nusantara’s multi-ethnic cultures offers as many as 300 varieties of sambals?!)
As the meat is grilled about order, allow 20 minutes more or less for the preparation time.
Sate Padang ($21 for 6 sticks)
Named after Padang City in West Sumatra, Sate Padang is a skewered meat dish prepared according to the grilling traditions in Padang.
The meats are premium beef which have been marinated overnight in a Sumatran-flavoured marinade with 19 different type of spices.
To further enhance the flavours, the grilled skewers are topped with an aromatic curry sauce that’s both authentic and creamy. An order of 10 sticks comes with Indonesian rice cakes and rind crackers served on the side.
I do think that this is a dish that you should find intriguing due to its complex flavours.
Sate Kambing Betawi ($24 for 10 sticks)
Similar to Sate Padang, Sate Kambing Betawi is also a skewered meat dish but grilled this time to the traditions of the Betawi people.
The Betawis are the inhabitants of the Dutch colonial port city Betavia, now known as modern day Jakarta.
Instead of beef, this main uses premium lamb meat likewise marinated overnight in the multi-spiced Indonesian-style marinade.
It’s interesting how this special mix represents the harmonious blend of cultural and culinary influences from Chinese, Malay, Sundanese, Javanese, Arabic, and European settlers back in the 17th century.
Think about that as you bite into each flavourful piece of meat. It has quite a lean (as you do not get much of the fats) yet tender bite.
Accompanying your lamb skewers are house-made Sambal Kecap, a spice mixture commonly served with satays instead of or alongside the usual peanut sauce. Cleanse your palate with the fresh-cut sweet and crunchy cucumber pickles.
Kakap Merah Bakar Jimbaran ($39)
This seafood main dish boasts of the freshest catch of Red Snapper. To maximize its fresh flavour, the whole 500g fish is prepared grilled Jimbaran-style with traditional house-made Balinese shrimp paste and Javanese sweet soy sauce.
Kakap Merah Bakar Jimbaran is one of the most-loved seaside delicacies native to the fishing village of Jimbaran, Bali. If you are a frequent visitor to Bali, you should have come across this dish.
Generations after generations, the recipe for this dish has been passed down from one fisherman family to another. And that’s why you can enjoy this age-old dish today, accompanied with farm-fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, long beans, and kemangi.
The fish was fresh and moist, but to me the best part was when we slathered it with some of those must-have house-made sambal. The sambal is made from a combination of Sambal Embe, Sambal Matah and Sambal Nasi Bali.
Like the Ayam Bakar Taliwang, expect this dish prepared in more or less 20 minutes.
Gado Gado ($15)
Gado-Gado, which literally means “mix-mix”, is a popular Indonesian salad that originated from the island of Java, which is what many local diners would be accustomed to.
It is so prevalent that it was nominated as one of the five national dishes of Indonesia.
However here at Sama Sama, this dish is served with a “performance” as the staff pushes out a trolley and prepares it right in front of you.
It wasn’t just done in a minute or two, as makcik shows from the first step how the chilli padi is pounded. At this stage, you can choose how many chillies to be thrown in to determine the overall spiciness.
You will appreciate how the ingredients are tossed and mixed in a special house-made sauce. The sauce is made from scratch with freshly pounded peanuts and cashew mixed with spices and flavourings.
Addictive to munch on the Gado Gao with its delicious creamy sauce, along with the deep-fried crunchy garlic crackers on the side and a whole boiled egg.
Rawon Surabaya ($17)
Rawon Surabaya is a signature dish prepared the way they do in Surabaya, the second largest city in Indonesia.
Rawon, or Rawaran in Old Javanese, is known to be one of the oldest dishes in Nusantara, dating back to the 10th century during the Kingdom of Mataram’s reign.
This is a hearty beef soup that is quite rarely found in Singapore, so don’t think twice to try this out if you love something rich and aromatic.
It is made by simmering the stock with traditional Javanese herbs and spices, including ground Buah Keluak and diced grain-fed beef.
A filling meal in itself, it is served with fresh and naturally sweet baby bean sprouts, premium salted egg, deep-fried crunchy prawn crackers, and their special house-made chili.
Es Cendol ($9)
The Indonesian Es Cendol is different from the colourful bowls offered in Singapore and Malaysia typically with green jelly and red beans.
Sama Sama’s version comes in a big serving, probably good for 2-4 to share after a hearty meal, included with pandan jelly, Indonesian palm sugar, coconut milk and jackfruit for the aroma.
Other sweet treats available to end the meal include the Es Teler ($9) and Es Campur ($9).
As the food presented at Sama Sama is quite diverse and comes in sizeable portions, it will be good to dine with a group of families and friends.
Also take note that a number of dishes such as the Ayam Bakar Taliwang and Kakap Merah Bakar Jimbaran are prepared and grilled only upon order, do dedicate some time waiting for them.
Sama Sama by Tok Tok
Jewel Changi Airport, #03-225/226 78 Airport Blvd, Singapore 819666
Tel: +65 6904 3971
Operating hours: 10am – 10pm (Mon – Sun)
* This entry is brought to you in partnership with Sama Sama by Tok Tok.