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Peanut sauce, noodles + more: A new Indonesian restaurant is now open in Charlotte

When you step inside Nusa, you’ll find a fast-casual spot to grab lunch or dinner in Charlotte. You’ll also find yourself transported, as you soak up the flavors of traditional Indonesian cuisine.

If you’re looking for a new Asian dining experience you won’t find elsewhere around town, this is it. Nusa is the only Indonesian restaurant in the Carolinas, general manager Kendra Kong has told CharlotteFive.

The restaurant is now open in the former Charlotte Cafe space at the Arboretum, which has seen a shakeup of food and drink options recently. It’s right next door to where Curry Junction will be opening in the old Akropolis Cafe location, near Vicious Biscuit.

Chef Hendra Tjiey has crafted the menu featuring the food of Indonesia with a Chinese flair, reflecting his home country and heritage. His kitchen is run under the direction of executive head chef Robin Anthony, who’s also at the helm of sister concepts PrimeFish; Omakase, an experience by PrimeFish; and the newly opened PrimeFish Cellar.

HOW TO NUSA: Browse the menu online or at the door, then head on in. You’ll order at the counter, where you can also purchase Indonesian snacks. Take a seat, and a server will roll your order out to you on a cart when it’s ready.

Nusa offers fast-casual counter service dining.
Nusa offers fast-casual counter service dining.
While you’re ordering at Nusa, you can also purchase grab-and-go snacks.
While you’re ordering at Nusa, you can also purchase grab-and-go snacks.

THE FOOD: If you start off with an appetizer, you’ll find familiar dishes such as spring rolls, chicken wings and the chicken satay, served with peanut sauce on the side.

When I visited Nusa, I was lucky enough to have a guide in my friend Nancy, whose father was from Indonesia. She melted at the sight of gado gado on the menu — the Indonesian Salad — which flooded her with childhood memories.

Nusa’s Indonesian salad — called gado gado — includes boiled green beans and cabbage, a boiled egg, fried tofu and tempeh, fresh cucumber and peanut sauce ($10).
Nusa’s Indonesian salad — called gado gado — includes boiled green beans and cabbage, a boiled egg, fried tofu and tempeh, fresh cucumber and peanut sauce ($10).

She also dove into the braised beef, simmered until tender in coconut milk and spices. It comes with rice, stewed mixed veggies and coconut mixed veggies, plus pickled cucumbers and savory shrimp chips.

I ordered the chicken satay and Nusa noodles with shredded chicken, which carry a sneaky but mild back-end heat.

Nusa’s chicken satay, Nusa noodles and braised beef.
Nusa’s chicken satay, Nusa noodles and braised beef.

For a touch of something sweet to finish off your meal, Nusa offers:

  • a black rice dessert called burbur ketanhitam, sweetened with coconut cream.

  • a coconut pudding

  • a steamed banana pudding called nogosari made with banana, jack fruit and rice pudding

  • a coconut dessert drink with tapioca pearls, jack fruit, coconut milk and palm sugar.

ALLERGY NOTES: One important thing to note is that Indonesian cuisine is heavy with tree nuts, peanuts and shellfish, Kong said. “Almost everything will contain one of the three,” she said, so people with allergies will want to take note.

Nusa is located at 8200 Providence Road, Suite 700, at the Arboretum.
Nusa is located at 8200 Providence Road, Suite 700, at the Arboretum.

Nusa

Location: Arboretum, 8200 Providence Road, Suite 700

Menu

Cuisine: Indonesian

Instagram: @nusacharlotte