Pondok Kaki Lima: Inhaling Indonesian Food Behind Motel [CLOSED]

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Indonesian Food Los Angeles

Lenny’s Satay is one of the leading Indonesian stalls behind Duarte Inn.

I’ve eaten some great meals in unlikely locations. Hell, the best ceviche of my life came from a blue truck in a freeway-adjacent city park. Still, Pondok Kaki Lima, an open-air Indonesian market that Sakri Dewi Tirtowidjojo organized behind Duarte Inn, took me by surprise.

Of course I may hear of a magical restaurant within the Duarte city limits tomorrow, but to my knowledge, Duarte isn’t exactly Mecca for food lovers. Near as I could tell, Duarte isn’t exactly Mecca for much of anything, unless you’re a Wal-Mart fan; the city houses one of the only Wal-Marts in the San Gabriel Valley. Props to Jonathan Gold for publicizing this terrific eight-stall market set WAY back from Huntington Drive, where uninformed passers-by couldn’t possibly discover it.

My girlfriend and I wandered from stall to stall, stacking Styrofoam containers of food along the way. It was a struggle to find open folding chairs among the throng of Indonesian customers who occupied the scattered picnic tables, but we managed.

Billowing smoke from five grills announced our arrival at Lenny’s Satay. An expert stick-handler (Lenny?) was behind the stall, manning the meats, then dropping stacks of sticks into metal bins twenty at a time once he was satisfied they were ready. Lenny’s sold chicken and lamb satays, plus pan-fried vermicelli, fried rice dishes, crushed ice desserts, and stinky durian smoothies.

Indonesian Food Los Angeles

Lenny sprinkled chicken skewers ($1 each) and lamb skewers ($1.25 each) with fried onions and squiggled with teriyaki sauce, which came from a tri-spouted squeeze bottle. Meats were crusty, caramelized on the grill, not fatty at all and came with sweet marinated cucumber chunks and peanut dipping sauce.

Indonesian Food Los Angeles

Kristy’s Kup (Ibu Lilian) featured a large folding table bearing intriguing dishes in metal bins, including enough hard-boiled eggs to faze Cool Hand Luke.

Indonesian Food Los Angeles

For $6, the woman in charge served us a rice plate topped with marinated young jackfruit with a similarly brown hard-boiled egg; spicy cow skin (“like chicharrones, but cow”); and a yellow chicken thigh. What a deal.

Indonesian Food Los Angeles

Kristy’s chicken was incredibly tender and tasted much better than it looked. Cow skin was like spicy, limp tripe, which wasn’t all bad. Shredded jackfruit looked like short ribs and had the consistency of artichoke hearts. It didn’t taste very fruity; it was more meaty, and delicious, with a spice kick.

Indonesian Food Los Angeles

In the parking lot’s sate wars, Sate Babi Manis “Heidy” certainly had the most attractive skewers (and the least catchy name). It didn’t hurt that they were pork, my favorite meat. It also didn’t hurt that they were chewy, crusty, and caramelized on the outside.

Indonesian Food Los Angeles

We got 5 skewers for $6, along with slices of sticky rice cake drizzled with peanut and teriyaki sauces. There was also a little pile of marinated cabbage and sliced carrot. Heidy’s skewers were great, equal to Lenny’s chicken and lamb.

I still had five food stalls to try, and three of them looked appetizing, but I only had one stomach, and it was full. Now that I’ve overcome the real challenge – finding Pondok Kaki Lima – I’ll definitely return to Duarte to eat more succulent Indonesian food.

Hours: Saturdays: 10 AM – 2 PM


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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