Sama Sama by Tok Tok, Jewel: Repeated Success in ‘Tok Gong’ Indonesian Fare

Joining a slew of a hundred over F&B outlets serving a myriad of international cuisines, Sama Sama by Tok Tok is now opened at Jewel Changi Airport. Similar to Tok Tok, the restaurant serves authentic Indonesian food that will pull the nostalgic heart strings of many Indonesians living in Singapore. The stark difference is the price range of the food items. Tok Tok is a casual dining concept that offers more one-dish meals below $10, while Sama Sama focuses more on sharing dishes and with the likes of meats and seafood, prices can reach as high as $30+.

‘Sama Sama’ means ‘you’re welcome’. It is a courteous response when expressing gratitude and appreciation. The restaurant also prides itself in getting the right ingredients that are not usually found in Singapore in order to achieve authenticity. A fellow Indonesian diner was nodding in approval to most of the dishes served, especially the sambal.

Four sambals out of the 12 in-house sambals are highly recommended. They are Sambal Embe, Sambal Matah, Sambal Daun Jeruk and Sambal Goreng Terasi ($4 per portion). Sambal Matah is pleasantly more sour than spicy, thanks to lemongrass, kaffir lime chilli salsa and coconut oil. I tried a small cautious dab of Sambal Daun Jeruk. The spiciness hits me much later and I could not really speak for a few minutes. It is one of the spiciest sambals around and I am obviously not a spokesperson for spicy food.

Even if you are not into salads, you will probably like gado-gado, a very popular Indonesian dish that encourages everyone to eat more greens. If you order Gado Gado ($15) in the restaurant, a staff will prepare and assemble the dish right in front of you. The special peanut dressing is made from scratch. A bowl of ‘secret water’ (it may be tamarind or lime juice) is added to bind the peanut mix together and completed with a swivelled dash of kecap manis (sweet soy sauce). There are blanched slices of bitter gourds, long beans, kang kong, cubes of potato, tofu, tempeh (a type of soybean cake), a hard-boiled egg and a handful of colourful crackers. Great variety of ingredients that go remarkably well with the appetising peanut dressing.

Rawon Surabaya ($17) is a rich beef soup served hot to awaken your taste buds and give your body an energy boost to face the day, or at least that was how I felt when I drank it up to the very last drop. You can consume it with baby bean sprouts, salted egg and a big piece of prawn cracker.

Sate Padang ($21) are skewered pieces of well-marinated premium beef, grilled to perfection and generously coated with curry sauce. Very delicious and tender morsels of meat, regular rice cakes, and… what I thought to be fried pieces of taupok are actually deep-fried beef rinds. The slightly salty crispy rinds are eaten like a snack and they go really well with the curry sauce.

For grilled seafood, Kakap Merah Bakar Jimbaran ($39) is a good catch. The entire red snapper is evenly grilled with a traditional Balinese shrimp paste and Javanese sweet sauce.

Udang Bakar Jimbaran ($34) is similar but using jumbo freshwater river prawns. The prawns taste ‘powdery’, not crunchy and firm as I would like them to be. This usually happens when prawns have been overcooked.

On the topic of grilling, the restaurant also serves an all-time favourite, Ayam Bakar Taliwang ($29), where a whole chicken is grilled Lombok-style. The marinade is sweet, tangy and spicy. Grilled chicken remains succulent with a nice charred finish.

If you prefer your chicken fried, Ayam Goreng Lengkuas ($22) gives a crispy crunch. The chicken is marinated with Javanese herbs and spices overnight. Shredded galangal is also added on top to intensify the flavours. It is hard to choose between the two chicken dishes.

To get the most bang for your buck, try Nasi Langgi ($17). It comes in a cone of coconut rice served with spicy stewed beef rinds with petai beans, spiced coconut flesh, thick shreds of omelette, spicy fried tempeh, Javanese curry chicken and beef stew. The big circular plate looks bountiful and everything is as delicious as it looks.

Sama Sama by Tok Tok is good for group gatherings as many items are best shared and you can try more dishes that way. The prices may be a little steep but I credit that to the amount of work needed and resources to find the right ingredients to prepare these dishes.

Sama Sama by Tok Tok
Jewel Changi Airport, 78 Airport Boulevard, #03-225/226 Singapore 819666
Tel: +65 6904 3971
10 am – 10pm daily

Food: 7/10
Price/value: 6.5/10
Décor/ambience: 6.5/10

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Written by Cheang Shwu Peng

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