Indonesia Restaurant’s Gado-Gado

Owner Realino Indra Santoso

When Realino Indra Santoso moved to the United States in 1998, he did so as an “eager and afraid” teenager who almost ended up experiencing culture shock in making adjustments. Now 36, he has retained his enthusiasm and discarded his apprehension and has enjoyed nearly nine years as a South Philly-based proprietor thanks to Indonesia Restaurant, 1725 Snyder Ave.

“My land is a vibrant one in terms of cuisine, so I love exposing people to this food,” the businessman said of his Newbold location’s devotion to East Javanese delights. “South Philly has been very receptive to what happens here, and I’m very grateful for that.”

The resident of the 2100 block of Ritner Street came to the United States to study restaurant management and hospitality, joining his family’s Chinatown-situated restaurant on a full-time basis in 2001. When needing to find a new address around a decade ago, he deemed South Philly appealing and has retained many of his original patrons while adding many more guests. With seating for 103 and an admirably comforting ambience, Indonesia Restaurant, certainly the possessor of a nondescript name, has an exceptional identity as a purveyor of amazing dishes, with Santoso proud to tout the menu’s size.

“It could have been longer,” the Girard Estate dweller joked in referring to the 99 selections. “We want to immerse people in our way of life and stress the importance of food in doing that.”

Also the overseer of Cafe Pendawa, 1529 Morris St., Santoso explained that as locals begin to devote themselves to the practice of broadening their dining possibilities, Indonesian options make fine choices, especially for those looking to develop more than a minimal interest. As pasta is to Italian cuisine, so is Gado-Gado to Indonesian fare, and he elected to share his site’s recipe for the authentic salad.

“It is the top delicacy to promote,” Santoso said of the $8.75 offering. “If you want to have an introduction to our character, this is where you must begin. It is the true color of my culture.”

Ingredients for the Salad:

1.5 ounces of bean sprouts, blanched

1.5 ounces of julienne cabbage, blanched

1 medium tomato, steamed and cubed

1 bag of rice cakes, steamed and cubed

1 square of fried tofu, cut into small pieces

1 square of fried soy bean cake, cut into small pieces

1 fried shallot

2 hardboiled eggs, cut into four pieces

1/2 of a medium tomato, diced

1/4 of a medium cucumber, peeled and diced

4 or 5 medium-sized green lettuce leaves, cut into small pieces

1 handful of fried shrimp and bitter nut crackers

1 teaspoon of hot spice sauce

Ingredients for the Sauce:

3/4 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of sugar

4 cups of roasted peanuts, grounded

3 teaspoons of brown sugar

4 pieces of red chilies, grounded

3 cloves of shallot, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon of shrimp paste

2 tablespoons of white vinegar

3 cups of coconut creamer


For the sauce, finely ground the first nine ingredients into a paste. Add the result to boiled coconut creamer, whisking occasionally until it becomes blended together to become a creamy sauce.

Plate the first 11 salad ingredients, and drizzle them with the warm sauce. Top with the shrimp and the crackers. Add the hot sauce on the side. ■

Indonesia Restaurant

Owner: Realino Indra Santoso

Opened: July 2007 (in present location)

1725 Snyder Ave. | 215-829-1400

Photos by Tina Garceau