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It’s time to gather around a communal table for a liwetan, a traditional, rice-heavy Indonesian feast served on top of banana leaves and eaten with bare hands.

The Queens Dinner Club will enjoy dishes from Awang Kitchen at its next “meeting” on Thursday, July 20, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $45. (Please note that Awang Kitchen is in Elmhurst, but this multi-course meal will unfold at the Bamboo Lounge, which is located inside The Astor Room at 35-11 35th Ave. in Astoria’s Kaufman Arts District.)

Indonesian cuisine is vibrant, colorful, and exploding with flavor. The southeast Asian nation is the world’s largest archipelago, consisting of about 6,000 tropical volcanic islands, including Java and Sumatra. As to be expected, seafood is a main staple, and popular dishes display many Chinese, Middle Eastern, and Indian influences. Coconut milk, lemongrass, turmeric, ginger, and chilies are almost always in the mix.

One specialty is Bandeng presto, whose preparation begins with marinating milkfish in yeast. The chef then adds shallots and garlic before letting the meal luxuriate in a pressure cooker before a deep fry. This entree is best with a chili pepper hot sauce called “sambal.” Bandeng presto will be on the menu on July 20 as well as the following:

Sayur asem: Tamarind soup with vegetables;
Bebek Goreng Sambel Ijo: Succulent fried duck with roasted green chili sambal;
Bandeng presto: Deep-fried, pressure-cooked milkfish (see above paragraph);
Ikan teri petai: Anchovies with sator beans;
Krupuk: Crunchy shrimp and rice crackers;
Rujak juhi: Fried shredded dried squid, tofu, potato, cucumber, noodles, lettuce, peanut sauce, and shrimp paste;
Tahu goring: Fried tofu; and
Tempe goring: Fried fermented soy bean.

Save some room, though. Peter Zaharatos, a chef at Long Island City’s Sugar Cube, is going to provide bespoke desserts, possibly created with help from a 3D printer. The Bamboo Lounge will offer drink specials.

The Queens Dinner Club, which recently celebrated its one-year anniversary, is an open, informal group that explores the borough’s restaurants via monthly banquets. In the past, members have gathered to enjoy Chinese, Filipino, Georgian, Indian, Mexican, and other cuisines.

Top image: Waroeng Orang Indonesia; Gallery images: Joe DiStefano

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