No matter how many new streaming series pop up on Netflix each week, almost everybody has a show they watch over and over again. You’ve memorized the jokes, know every punch line, and have charted each crucial plot point from season to season. And yet, it’s impossible to get tired of it, because it simply makes you feel good. We have a similar relationship with Borneo Kalimantan.
The casual Indonesian/Singaporean restaurant in Alhambra serves the kind of rich, decadent food that, in just a few bites, makes even the worst stretches of the week feel manageable. Call it comfort food if you will, but it’s the reason we return to this spot again and again.
Now, Borneo Kalimantan’s space is by no means a remarkable dining environment. Save for a wall of brightly colored doors that don’t open, the dining room is fairly sparse and straightforward. There’s gray linoleum flooring and scattered tables you can push together if you come with a big group. Old fluorescent lights flicker overhead. Servers promptly take your order and are rarely seen or heard from again. These are just quirks that don’t matter in the long haul. What does matter is the incredible food coming out of the kitchen.
BK’s menu is large and you’ll find memorable, rich and savory dishes on almost every page. If you’re looking for a true center of gravity to build your meal around, go for the Singapore laksa mee. This glorious bowl of spicy coconut curry soup has a vibrant bright orange broth and comes filled with plump shrimp, fish cakes, fried tofu, and a marinated egg. This isn’t just the best thing at Borneo Kalimantan, it’s one of the best things you can eat in the city of Alhambra (or maybe anywhere in LA). From there, add smaller dishes like the meaty, peanut-covered satay or the flaky roti prata served with chicken curry, so that everyone at your table can tear and dunk to their heart's content.
If you’re alone and not looking to order like you’re a family of four, the nasi lemak, known as the national dish of Malaysia, is a complete meal on a single plate: crispy fried chicken, curried vegetables, spicy anchovies, toasted peanuts, and a marinated egg surrounded by a beautiful mountain of rice cooked in coconut milk and pandan. This dish is particularly good for takeout, because as everything accidentally mixes together in the box on the drive home, it tastes even better.
Singapore Laksa Mee
This is less of a dish description and more of a personal thank you note—to this beautiful, creamy, sweet coconut curry soup for making us feel better on an almost weekly basis. Sure, it wakes us up in the middle of the night with cravings and we’ve put in too many miles on the 10 freeway en route to pick it up on Sunday nights, but we don’t care. It’s worth it.
No meal at Borneo Kalimantan is complete without roti prata. It’s thick and fluffy, dense yet airy, and one of our favorite versions in town. It comes with a side of creamy chicken curry for dipping, but it tastes just as delicious dipped into every other bowl that hits the table.
When was the last time you had a truly memorable chicken satay? If it’s been awhile, break the streak and order some here. It arrives at the table with four hefty skewers filled with moist, meaty chicken that’s been drenched in a rich peanut sauce they should bottle up and put on every table.
Served with slices of BBQ red pork, fish cakes, fish balls, and marinated eggs, these dry soup noodles topped with fried shallots have a nice chewiness to them. Each order comes with salty, clear broth on the side, which we like for dunking each bite. Be sure to ask your server for extra if you’re sharing.
Kwe Tiau Goreng
Two noodle-based dishes in one sitting might seem like overkill, but just know this one is very different from the hakka. The stir-fried rice noodles are supple and salty, and the shrimp, sausage, and fish balls provide a nice sweetness to balance them all out.
If you arrive at Borneo Kalimantan by yourself and are unsure what to order, don’t panic. Get the nasi lemak. It comes with juicy fried chicken, roasted peanuts, and vegetables covered in curry sauce,all circling a heap of fragrant coconut milk rice. We haven’t looked at the USDA food pyramid in awhile, but we’re pretty sure this has everything covered.