'Scooping a piece of lung out of my soup made me squeamish'
I 'm chewing on a chunk of lung I've scooped from my soup, but I can't swallow it. I keep thinking that I'm snacking on the equivalent of a biopsy sample. I'm not sure why I'm being so squeamish about this particular cut of offal when I'm quite happy to dine on other animal parts. I grew up on a property where we slaughtered our own meat, and liver, kidney and brains, for example, made it to the kitchen table. After all, if you're going to take an animal's life, you should make full use of it, a point now espoused by the many hipster devotees of nose-to-tail eating. But lungs? No one even considered eating them.
However other cultures have different attitudes, Scottish haggis, for example, traditionally includes sheep lung although, counter to that, any food including lungs is banned in the US.
At Indonesian restaurant Sendok Garpu in Indooroopilly, beef lung is on the menu two ways, in the soto betawi soup ($22.95) where the dark, chewy, slighty spongy chunks are mixed with pieces of fatty beef, crumbled bitternut crackers and tomato pieces in a coconut-infused broth, which I can't say I enjoyed, or marinated and fried ($28.95) and served with a sambal (chilli sauce).
There are plenty of alternative, less challenging dishes on the lengthy, multi-page menu, which comes complete with photographs, at the establishment not far from the western suburb's railway station. Rissoles here are a long way from mince patties, they're rectangular pastry parcels stuffed with diced chicken ($8.95) and even better are the mini martabak telur ($9.95), flat, crisp crepe sandwiches of beef mince, egg and shallot.
Main courses include a multitude of rice-based dishes and share options including lamb curry, deep-fried catfish, marinated beef ribs and chicken satay skewers. Beef rendang ($29.95) features chunks of meat, some more tender than others, in an aromatic, deeply flavoured sauce that begs us to tear up the hot, flaky roti ($5) to mop up every last bit.
On a cold, wet night, terong balado, fried eggplants tossed in a fiery balado sambal, is put to medicinal use as it's sinus-clearing hot and and given textural dimension with the school of crispy anchovies scattered across the top ($19.95).
The country's favourite fried rice, nasi goreng ($24.95), is steeped in a fragrant paste, topped with fried egg, a giant prawn cracker and a side of pickled cucumber and carrot, with chicken our choice of protein. We add a side of fried stinky beans, or petai ($5) which look like broad beans and have an odd smell but are not unpleasant and add to the meal's exotic nature if not particularly the taste.
The restaurant has an outdoor, garden-stye vibe evoked by a gurgling fountain, potted plants, statues, open umbrellas and wooden fans dangling from the canvas lined ceiling. On this dour, rainy night only four of the bare wood tables are occupied and the wall-mounted heaters are off.
There's no alcohol available but you can BYO and drinks include freshly squeezed lime juice and young coconut meat and juice over ice. The waiter has a relaxed, friendy approach, seems to enjoy explaining dishes, and tops up our water glasses frequently.
The establishment is owned by self-taught cook Alicia Martino, who came to Brisbane as a university student. She set up a food stall 10 years ago in a Coopers Plains industrial estate before opening at Indooroopilly in 2014.
With COVID ruling out international travel for the foreseeable future, restaurants are our portals into other cultures . How deep you delve into their culinary idiosyncracies is up to you. I'm good to go, just hold the lungs.
Food 2½ stars
Ambience 2½ stars
Service 3 stars
Value 2½ stars
OVERALL 2 ½ stars
172 Clarence Road, Indooroopilly
Open 7am-2.30pm seven days,
5pm-8.30pm Wed to Sat
Originally published as Scooping a piece of lung out of my soup made me squeamish