Balado dishes originate from Padang in West Sumatra, it is a paste that consists of garlic,chilli, shallots, tomatos & salt and is grinded coarsly in mortar and then sauteed in oil with galanggal root, bay leaves kafir lime leaves and 'petai' or bitter bean (this is optional) until the paste thickens. Afterwards you can toss in either prefried eggplants, 'dendeng' which is like a crispy beef jerky or in this case pre fried mackeral. Padang food is quite spicy and many of the dishes are cooked in coconut milk and can be quite rich.
Through out many of the South East Asian countries, you will find Padang restaurants and it's easy to identify them because an array of dishes are spread infront of you by a waiter who carries many dishes all at once that are spread and stacked up along his arms and hands, it's quite a presentation and a feat I should say. If it's your first experience you might feel a bit overwhelmed looking at all the food and wonder whether can you eat it all...but in actual you only pay for what you consume.
It seems as though the idea of the Dutch 'Rijsttafel' or 'Rice Table' derived from the concept of eating at a Padang restaurant but in a more elegant and sophisticated manner. There's a restaurant in Jakarta that has existed forever known as 'Oasis' and they offer a 'Rijstaffel'. It's quite an extravaganza of pagaentry where a line of waiters and waitressess are dressed in traditional costume, each carry a dish that is perfectly presented to your table. But unlike in a Padang Restaurant every dish you do have to pay for. Oasis is a place I used to take clients or guests who came from abroad out for dinner to experience a taste of Indonesia. The 'Rijstaffel' they serve offers a variety of Indonesian dishes and it is quite good but if I were to choose for myself, I much prefer the simpler and more soulful food that Padang restaurants offer. Both however are a dining experience that one should try when in Jakarta....