Chowdown at Padi in San Leandro
Five hounds gathered for brunch at Padi Indonesian restaurant in San Leandro.
After determining there is no longer a special weekend noodle menu, but with recommendations from the chef, we ordered from the regular menu (plus the porridge, which isn't on any menu, or the pictures of dishes above the cash register, but is, I believe, a weekend special).
Bubur Ayam Jakarta (chicken porridge)
Pempek Palembang (fried fishcake (with an egg inside))
Tumis Buncis (stir fried green beens and tempeh)
Laksa Melayu (coconut curry noodle soup)
Mie Ayam Padi (chicken noodle soup)
Ayam Penyet (smashed, fried chicken with sambal)
Sayur Nangka (jackfruit green curry)
Nasi Uduk (coconut rice)
Black rice with coconut milk desert
I was very satisfied with this brunch, even with the extreme fullness that comes from eating a few too many more spoonfuls of my favorite dishes. The only dish that was spicy was the sambal on the ayam penyet. It seems like this kitchen does a great job with subtler dishes. The chicken stock was full bodied and tasty--my favorite dish was the mie ayam padi, the chicken noodle soup that came with plenty of mushrooms, chicken bits, noodles, and fried wonton skins, with broth to pour over. The jackfruit curry was mild, coconutty, and the sort of thing I could eat for lunch frequently. I wasn't as excited about the laksa, which had a (different) mild coconut curry. The thin rice noodles (we were asked if we wanted thick, wheat noodles or the rice noodles) absorbed most of the broth and was dominated by the tofu puffs and small shrimp, which when combined with the coconut-based soup is just a much sweeter profile than I like, though I know a lot of my friends would love it.
I was familiar with a number of the dishes, having gone through a period of ordering takeout from Padi almost weekly, so I focused on ones I hadn't had before.
Bubur Ayam Jakarta - it looked more broth-y than jook when it came out, but the jook part was buried underneath a mound of sliced Chinese donut and shrimp chips. The rice was maybe a bit more glutinous than Chinese jook - anyway, it stayed mounded in a small pool of very good chicken broth, while still being creamy, without any individual remaining granules.
Laksa Melayu - like ...tm..., I found it a little lacking in pungency for my taste, but it was pleasant.
Sayur Nangka - I've had other curries from Padi, but not the jackfruit - while the sauce is the same (and it's very good), we all marveled at the texture and form of the jackfruit, which was remarkably similar to artichoke heart.
black rice with coconut cream - this was a gift from the chef, and it was delicious - the rice was creamy but still retained some bite.
Brief notes on the remaining dishes:
Pempek palembang - this comes with a bit of thick wheat noodle, chopped cucumber, and a soy based sauce on the side. I would enjoy this dish on its own as a meal in itself, but it's not ideal for sharing.
Tumis Buncis - everyone loved the tempeh - I think the only time I've ever enjoyed tempeh is in Indonesian food. It was nutty and flavorful, and the beans were good as well.
Ayam Penyet - I love the sambal here - actually, they have three different house made sambals that they use for different dishes. When you order takeout, they pack a little container of it, and I love using the leftovers with scrambled eggs, rice, etc.
My one regret is that I didn't think to order Ayam Kalasan ahead of time - it is very labor intensive and involves frying chicken, then marinating it in coconut milk, then frying it before serving, so they need 1 or 2 days advance notice. I haven't had it here, and have been wanting to try it.
Thanks again to Melanie for organizing!
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I'm the fourth chowhound (I brought a +1 with me :). I liked each of the individual dishes; overall, I wish there had been a little less starch, but that is what we ordered. We will definitely return; we both liked the food and the restaurant is maybe 15 minutes from our house. Big thanks to Melanie for organizing, and here are my comments on the individual dishes.
Bubur Ayam Jakarta (chicken porridge). Very different from Chinese-style jook, with crunchy savory condiments on top and different spicing. I usually load up jook with liquid condiments, but not this.
Pempek Palembang (fried fishcake (with an egg inside)). An earthier, fishier flavor and coarser texture than Thai fish cakes.
Tumis Buncis (stir fried green beens and tempeh). Probably my favorite dish, with the nutty tempeh balanced very beautifully with the al dente, sweet green beans. Richly sauced; I could not begin to identify what was in the sauce beyond the soy sauce.
Laksa Melayu (coconut curry noodle soup). The noodles are thin, the curry yellow, loaded with shrimp, little fish balls, slices of fish cake.
Mie Ayam Padi (chicken noodle soup). A lovely kitchen-sink soup, with thick noodles, slices of chicken, and bits of garnish, so that every bite tasted different.
Ayam Penyet (smashed, fried chicken with sambal). Okay, maybe this was my favorite dish? The sambal is homemade (and sadly can't be purchased separately, or I would have taken home a jar), spicy, and deeply flavorful. Some of each chicken piece was crunchy from the deep frying, some just deeply juicy and delicious.
Sayur Nangka (jackfruit green curry). I've never had jackfruit before, although I've seen it in stores many times. I would not have dreamed that this was going to be stir-fried artichoke, but that's the texture and flavor.
Nasi Uduk (coconut rice). Lightly flavored with coconut.
Black rice with coconut milk desert. A perfect dessert; not overwhelming sweet, with the rice really perfectly cooked, with some bite to it.
I would have liked a higher degree of spiciness / heat, but overall a very good meal.
re: Lisa Hirsch
terong belado [eggplant w. chili sauce] and beef rendang, both ordered 'spicy', were two of the spiciest dishes we've had in this area. the ayam kalasan we had in Yogyakarta (haven't tried it at Padi) was one of the most satisfying spicy dishes with complexity we've had, so that might also satisfy you.