During my junior year of college, I lived in Yogyakarta, Indonesia (on the island of Java) and while there, fell in love with Indonesian food. Hardena, a small warung (or casual dining place) in South Philadelphia has been recieving great foodie press for years, but I’ve been putting off a visit until I could take along another person I spent time with in Indonesia. On a balmy weekday night, my friend Monica agreed to make the journey, and we couldn’t have been more pleased with the results.

While you can order dishes individually (don’t worry, the woman who works the hot food counter speaks English if you can’t read the Indonesian menu posted on the wall), it’s much more fun to just order a “plate” – 3 dishes of your choice for $6.  On any given day, Hardena offers 3 or 4 vegetarian dishes, and 4 or 5 meat-based dishes (think spicy fried fish and goat curry).  Pictured above is a boiled egg curry (one of my all-time favorites) a vegetable and tofu coconut milk curry, and a sweet fried tempeh with peppers over white rice. I just couldn’t resist the tempeh goreng cake (a large, thin slice of tempeh, dredge in egg and flour and deep fat-fried) so I added that to my platter for an extra dollar. I also added some sweet sambal (the orange color), but Hardena’s deep red sambal is one of the best I’ve ever tasted.

The set-up is just a step up from the traditional good carts with mini tables that are popular in Indonesia. A small store-front, little tables covered in plastic, styrofoam plates and plastic silverwear, and a cooler of cold water, but you won’t be dissapointed in the food, or the price.  Memberi makan!

2 thoughts on “Hardena…finally!

  1. Wow! That looks great. Can you confirm for me for sure that there’s no fish/shrimp/meat stock hiding out in those sauces? I’ve been wanting to check out Philly’s Indonesian spots for years, but I’ve worried about my ability to communicate what “vegetarian” means to me vs. what it means to populations that consider, say, chicken stock from which the meat chunks have been removed to be vegetarian. Having a vegetarian who speaks the language confirm this for me would be a big help. Thanks!

    1. Kate,

      Confirmation is tricky – mostly with shrimp. I’ve cooked many of these foods myself, and never used stock, though some dishes occasionly call for shrimp paste – its just depends on the chef if that paste (a very small amount, less than a teaspoon) is used. Next time I’m at Hardena, I’ll try to remember the correct Indonesian words and ask@

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