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Java Restaurant

Indonesian & Chinese Food for the Wallet Conscious

This no-frills place sits in an Inner Richmond neighborhood with several better-known restaurants, mainly Burma Superstar and Q -- but Java offers something these places don't: a good meal for eye-poppingly low prices.

I'm not very familiar with Indonesian food outside of this one place, but the food seems to take themes from Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese cuisine without being too close to any particular one. There is the same emphasis on rice and noodle dishes with coconut, paprika and lots of other spices.

However, the overall feel of the food is very different. One signature item is the multiple variations on the Gado Gado, or Java salad ($4.50). This concoction of tofu and cabbage can be had with peanut sauce, noodles or several other ways.

A more filling dish is the Bandai (yes, like the company behind the Power Rangers), which is chicken served in a rich, creamy coconut sauce; It's best with the noodles. Another good choice is the Ha Nobe, or Paprika Chicken. It's spicier, but does not come anywhere close to the spiciness of most Thai food. Both dishes are simple, don't skimp on the meat and, at $6.95 each, are among the more expensive items on the menu. The only way to spend more is to blow $9 on the Indonesian Rice Table, a multi-course meal including appetizer and desert.

For dessert, try the Pisang Goreng, or fried bananas with coconut and pineapple ice cream. Unlike many places, which hardly cook their fried bananas, Java fully breads and fries the heck out of theirs in a way that any American southerner would recognize. They're crispy and mushy all at once, just the way they should be.

The atmosphere and presentation are definitely minimal, but the service is great -- both super friendly and fast. The restaurant isn't especially big, but will make accommodations for larger parties.

Java will be lighter on your pocketbook than just about anywhere else that will actually let you sit down. On my most recent visit, a satisfying dinner for two came out to $14.10, including dessert and tax. In this town, that's hard to beat.

Java Restaurant
Inner Richmond