In the Austin Powers movies, Mike Myers plays Austin, Fat Bastard, Dr. Evil, and Goldmember. Each character has his own distinct wig (or bald cap), over-the-top accent, and quirks, and could each justifiably qualify as your favorite. At Sky Cafe, a tiny Indonesian restaurant in Elmhurst, the chicken pulls off a similar acting maneuver, and you should come here to experience its full range of talent. Every chicken dish is excellent and warrants icon status.
Sky Cafe’s chicken comes in many forms. If you order the nasi lemak ayam goreng, you’ll get a crispy fried leg and thigh alongside coconut rice. In another case, the chicken comes boiled in a spicy orange broth. But to experience the most impressive poultry act Sky Cafe pulls off in one dish, you’ll need to try the combination egg noodles. Aside from thin homemade noodles, sweet barbecue pork, and a marinated hard-boiled egg, it comes with pieces of shredded chicken, chicken-filled wontons, and a side of perfectly-tangy chicken broth that you can mix into the noodles (or just slurp on its own). Like Dr. Evil, the combination egg noodles deserve a cult following.
We all know that eggs come from chickens and chickens come from eggs. So, the hard-boiled eggs at Sky Cafe deserve a spot on the chicken’s IMDb page. They make their way into several dishes here, but our favorite version comes in the rice cake soup (lontong sayur) - which is hearty enough to be your whole meal. It’s tie-dye orange in color, costs exactly $7.50, and has a coconut-base involving lots of sambal chili sauce. Fishing around in it sort of feels like excavating on an archeological dig. Only instead of seventh-century tablets inscribed with poetry about rainfall, you’ll find tender pieces of beef rendang, big chewy rice cake squares, and hard-boiled eggs that somehow hold a crispy-fried exterior even though they’ve been soaking in a creamy broth.
Other than the food, there’s not too much happening at Sky Cafe. Solo diners stare at CBS on the TV, and bike couriers shuffle in and out to pick up deliveries. But if you’re like us, you’ll end up lingering here to ponder how chicken - the Mike Myers of Sky Cafe - pulls off so many great iterations of itself, and which character is your personal favorite.
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Nasi Lemak Ayam Goreng
If we all made a pact to eat this nasi lemak with fried chicken every time Mercury is in retrograde, everyone could stop saying stupid sht like “mercury is in retrograde” and just talk about how good this is instead. Aside from the chicken, the best part of the plate is the pile of nutty dried anchovies.
There are enough components involved in these combination egg noodles to justify their own flow chart on the menu. Highlights include the fried wontons, soft noodles, and a hard-boiled egg that’s been marinated for so long, it’s the color of Zoë Kravitz’s beautiful deep brown eyes.
If you only want one thing at Sky Cafe, make it this rice cake soup. It comes topped with a few crispy rice crackers that absorb the spicy coconut-based broth and become perfectly mushy. This textural experience alone makes this dish worth trying - that and the spicy-but-balanced goldmine of beef rendang, rice cakes, and crispy hard-boiled eggs.
This is an Indonesian salad with raw cucumbers, big pieces of perfectly cooked tofu, and hard boiled eggs - all in a brown creamy sauce that tastes like silky peanut butter.
If you want to try an appetizer with some heat, we’d recommend these fried fish cakes. There’s an egg yolk cooked into the middle of each one, so they look like little targets. And the fish cakes are served on top of thin rice noodles in a sour and spicy vinegar broth.
Nasi Pecel Lele
Sky Cafe has a bunch of rice platters, but this one with fried catfish, tofu, tempeh, and spicy shrimp and chili paste is our favorite (especially for a momentary break from your regularly-scheduled chicken programming).
Original Rice Table
This is 101-class version of Sky Cafe's food. It’s not on the menu, but it’s usually on the specials board. Order it and you’ll be bombarded with about eight small circular dishes of incredible meats, eggs, vegetables, and rice. When we ate this, we felt just slightly closer to royalty (even though the whole thing costs $18).