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O’sae Sushi Ramen Bistro includes vibrant Indonesian items

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Batagor offers a textural treat with rich peanut sauce. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Batagor offers a textural treat with rich peanut sauce.
Visiting Bali years ago, I first sampled Indonesian fare, falling for fresh plates like gado-gado, a steamed veggie medley in rich peanut sauce, scooped with airy krupuk, prawn crackers. Or nasi goreng, a bright, chili-laced fried rice. Those aren’t dishes found locally, as only Thai Satay has served a few Indonesian options of which I’m aware. I’ve always hoped to see a dedicated Indonesian spot open, and though newly launched O’sae Sushi Ramen Bistro’s not that — and doesn’t serve those two items partly on account of the ownership being from Java, not Bali — it does offer nearly a dozen affordable examples ($3.95 to $12.95) of the island nation’s excellence on which we opted to focus.

Start with bakso goreng or lemper. The first are dense, minced shrimp and chicken meatballs, so glutenous they spring back to form when pinched. Dipped in a Mae Ploy-like sweet sauce, they’re reminiscent of tod mun (Thai fish cakes). Lemper, coconut rice wads hosting a core of shredded chicken, exude floral lemongrass, galangal and coriander essence — they’re fabulous.

Another sharable item, batagor, offers a textural surprise, with spongy tofu pieces feeling like bread pudding chunks, mixed with crunchy chicken- and fish-stuffed wonton pieces, all covered in a rich, salty peanut sauce (not far from what’s in gado-gado). Risk a dip into accompanying sambal sauce to let spicy into the party, and squeeze a lime garnish for citric offset.

For mains, soto buntut is oxtail soup, and like other cultures’ versions, it’s a whole production: gnawing meat from bone, chewing (...and chewing) tendon, savoring tripe, and sucking down fatty, cold-busting comfort-food broth. The menu describes it as Indonesian yellow beef broth — a staffer says it hails from Madura Island — and whatever’s in it, it’s deep, hearty and delicious.
Location Details O’Sae Sushi Ramen Bistro
1825 Peterson Road
Central
Colorado Springs, CO
570-0543
Sushi/Japanese
Rendang lacks expected spice, but that can change by request — cue sambal sauce, again. It’s approachable and aromatic, with multi-spice (including ginger and garlic) beef chunks stewed tender in coconut milk (swoon), served over rice and topped with fried shallots. And mie goreng’s for lo mein lovers, a noodle tangle with bright wok hay and big juicy chunks of chicken and beef, plus shrimp and veggie pieces, plenty enjoyable with prominent green onion.

We do also depart from the Indonesian tour to sample the Japanese dishes that make up the majority of the menu. First, a clever maki spin: the Sakura Pizza. It’s creatively shaped and cut into wedges with a tempura-wrapped rice “crust,” topped with chopped scallops and krab in “special chef sauce” (some sort of Japanese mayo), flecked with roe and garnished with bacon crumbles and eel sauce. With crunch, creaminess and rich flavor accents, it’s more than gimmick.

We also pick a kotteri broth and chicken karaage topping for a ramen bowl. Kotteri functions as a classification of soup heaviness, identifying thicker, fattier/oilier broths; karaage’s basically fried chicken chunks, with a hard jacket and succulent interior. O’sae includes the same garnishes otherwise for all its ramen, including corn kernels, enoki mushrooms, soft boiled egg, seaweed and cabbage. Our noodles feel a bit soft and broth-logged, but the flavors pop, kicked off by a beery aroma (from a sake infusion, we learn) followed by a light soy punch. The fungi and corn’s grounding, earthy flavors accent the delightful chicken.

O’sae shows strong across cuisines; I’d only suggest a name change to O’sae Sushi Ramen Indonesian, to reflect what really sets them apart.

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