Salero Kito Padang Restaurant – CBD
Shop 18 (Tivoli Arcade)
235 Bourke St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
03 9639 7268
Sometimes I think this blog should be renamed into “Let’s Go To Warungs Together”… heh heh! But what to do… once you’re with an Indonesian, it’s just natural progression that your food jaunts revolve more around Indonesian joints.
Not that I’m complaining… I LOVE the cuisine!
My first encounter with Salero Kito was a chance spotting of it’s original branch whilst stuck in traffic on the Princes Hwy. When I reached home, I exclaimed to Fatbee “OMG!! There’s a Nasi Padang place in Caulfield!!”.
Fatbee (with a sigh): It’s in Malvern East.
A number of weeks later, I suggested we try out the Padang place.
Fatbee: Okay, we can go to the one on Bourke St.
Me: *blink*… there’s a branch in the city??
Me: Is it good?
And so here’s what Fatbee has to deal with everyday… me being totally out of the loop with all the practical realities of life! But back to our meal itself. Fatbee and I met up with Angela here for a long overdue catch-up one Monday night. Salero Kito’s city branch is located at the back of Tivoli Arcade on Bourke St. It’s a no-frills eatery that’s particularly busy during work lunch time, but a lot quieter during dinner.
Like Norsiah’s Kitchen and Nelayan, the food’s all displayed on bain marie trays. I won’t go into cuisine subsets and origins, but once I looked at the food items on offer at Salero Kito, I knew that we were headed for a food experience that’s quite different. I’m talking about things like fried ox lung, jackfruit & cabbage curry, crispy beef jerky and lamb brain curry…!
Woohoo!! It’s like all my Sundays have come at once!
But trust the Indonesians to know which are the gold ticket items. Both Fatbee and Angela got the exact same combination of deep fried spicy fish, crispy beef jerky and gulai singkong (silver beet curry). And the few spoonsful that I sneaked from their plates tasted great! There was so much flavour to the fish, and a slight bitterness to the gulai singkong that it truly reminded me of the warung food experiences I had in Bali. And that beef jerky was like eating crispy potato chips!
Also take note of that little huddle of green sambal located at 6 o’clock on the plate – Fatbee and Angela told me that this is the classic Indonesian Nasi Padang sambal. So when you’re ordering and you’re asked which chilli sauce you’d like, go for the green one. I couldn’t get enough of this sambal!
Corn fritter, jackfruit and cabbage curry, spicy fried chicken $12
I decided to try some of the other items on offer that evening (along with a packet of Teh Kotak), and they also kept me very happy… with the jackfruit and cabbage curry reminding me of a variation of Sayur Lodeh, my favourite vegetable dish. And of course I’m never disappointed with Malaysian and Indonesian-style ayam goreng (deep fried chicken), where there’s minimal batter action but maximum flavour with a delicious dusting of turmeric.
Having a plate of rice with 3 dishes here sets you back $12, which is slightly more pricey than other joints, but still well within the range of my definition of cheap eats (where your meal has to be less than $15). And the amount of food you get is quite a lot actually, tempting me to bring a little take way container next time to siphon off part of my meal for the next day’s lunch!
And of course, the way of serving the food here is very different to how it’s done in a ‘real’ Padang restaurant in Indonesia, where they bring a million small plates of food to your table and you then eat from whichever plates you fancy and you’re only charged for what plates you eat from.
Angela went a step further by having Fatbee’s combination of dishes plus extra chicken curry… and I nearly fell off my chair when I saw that she finished everything! Our dinner here was completed within 10 minutes, and it was a case of “gobble up first, chat later!”. And Angela made me laugh when she exclaimed “OMG… it’s like Christma is happening right now!!”.
From my limited experience, I thought that my meal here was the closest to what I’ve enjoyed so much when eating in the Warungs of Bali. But I think it’s safer for me to just quote my Indonesian companions, who gives this restaurant a big thumbs-up, saying it’s probably as authentic as you can get to Indonesian Nasi Padang food within Melbourne. The only slight downside for me is how the tasty meats and fish are generally quite ‘cooked’ and firm here. If you’re visiting, don’t come here expecting that juicy succulent pre-brined fried chicken type of cooking that you’d expect from Western restaurants.
And do be warned… I hear that the range of selections here are excellent during lunch time, but there are evenings where some of the items have been sold out by dinner time.