In Asian cities like Singapore and Hong Kong, food courts (which go by several names, including hawker centres) often have some of the most exhilarating food, at consistently low prices. In America, food courts are more likely to host despicable options like Sbarro and Cinnabon. Thankfully, this wasn’t the case at West Covina’s Hong Kong Plaza Court, a thrilling oasis of Indonesian cuisine on the eastern rim of the San Gabriel Valley, highlighted by Satay Fong.
Fong Budiman and sister Sakri Dewi Tirtowidjojo (Dewi) opened their locally famous stall in 2003. Dewi is something of a superstar in the Indonesian community, having organized Pondok Kaki Lima, the open air Indonesian market that occupies the parking lot behind Duarte Inn every Saturday.
When Fong and Dewi were growing up in Jakarta, the prime place to find satay was from street hawkers like the one depicted in this 3-D piece of art.
Rendang was tender short rib-like beef cooked with coconut milk. Telor were fried eggs spooned with a blazing blend of tomato and chile. Tempe Cabe Ijo featured tiny bricks of house-made soybean cake, tossed with long beans and green chilies. Gulai Nangka combined young jackfruit, cabbage, coconut milk and chilies. Cabe Ijo was a plastic dish of ferocious green chile sambal. The only letdown was the Ayam Gulai, dried out white meat chicken that had been cooked with coconut milk. The plate also came with a dish of rice crackers, to scoop up the ferocious green chile sauce.
The Hong Kong Food Court has more stalls than ever, meaning increased competition for Satay Fong. Given the high quality meal they delivered, Fong and Dewi are clearly up to the challenge.