If you are trying to find decent authentic Indonesian foods in inner city of Melbourne, Blok M Express is worth to visit. It is located at 380 Little Bourke Street, in between Elizabeth Street and Queen Street.
The place is small but it has a good ambience somehow. It's actually much nicer inside than you'd expect based on the type of food and prices: open, well lit and not overcrowded. However, it is a self service, so you need to go to the counter and order your food.
On the wall there is a story about Blok M. It is named after a business shopping quarter in South Jakarta with cheap goods, vibrant night life, and the largest bus station in Jakarta. Pak E, the owner, was a thug who spent most of his life in Blok M district. He decided to go to Bali, and met Kathie - an Australian girl, married her and moved to Melbourne. Then he opened an Indonesian Restaurant in Prahan (the first outlet) which is called "Blok M" to remind him of how far he had come from the struggles of his early life.
Two words for this restaurant: affordable and tasty. The prices are under $15 for the main dishes and under $4 for the drinks.
Local people usually go for Nasi Goreng (Fried Rice), Indonesians choose Grilled chicken in traditional Javanese Sauce, Grilled Oxtail Soup, and Grilled Fish while Malaysian usually choose something with 'balado' sauce (the favourite is Chicken Balado). There are other menus for those who feel adventurous to try the new foods, such as Grilled Cat Fish in traditional Javanese Sauce, Nasi Gudeg (Sweet stewed jackfruit with chicken, prawn cracker and rice) or Jackfruit smoothies or even Durian smoothies!
We ordered Grilled Oxtail Soup ($11.5) and Grilled Fish ($11), Tea Tarik ($2) and Durian smoothies ($3.8). The grilled oxtails were tender, sweet and spicy with smoky flavour, served with basil, sambal, soup and rice. The grilled fish was served with the whole fish, fresh basil, sambal and rice. When I took the first bite of my food, it was enough to make me want return back again and order other dishes.
Lastly, Selamat Makan! (Have a good meal)
Why: Affordable and tasty authentic Indonesian foods
When: Thu-Sat: 11am-9pm Sun-Wed: 11am-10pm
Cost: Under $15