Satay Sarinah

The world's fourth most-populated country, Indonesia has more people than Vietnam and Thailand combined, yet in the United States its cuisine is almost a footnote. It deserves a look, and you can't do better than at Satay Sarinah, which has been in business 20 years, first in Georgetown and now in Alexandria, and where nothing but whole fish costs as much as $10.

There is little exotic about the cooking. Good starters are the satays of beef, lamb, chicken, shrimp, or tofu. Other choices are potato croquettes stuffed with beef, fried corn cakes, and marinated ground beef wrapped in a thin dough and crisply fried. Winning main courses are chicken marinated in a coconut-milk-based sauce and then broiled, chicken first marinated then fried, and chicken curry served with glass noodles and vegetables. The whole fish and the fried shrimp in butter sauce are very good. Both fried noodles and fried rice are integral to the country's cooking. Fried bananas, with or without ice cream, make a good dessert.

Satay Sarinah, 512-A S. Van Dorn St., Alexandria; 703-370-4313.