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.
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