Thursday, July 14, 2022

Medan Kitchen - Rosemead

The hype is real: Medan Kitchen is the epicenter of Indonesian food culture in Southern California right now.

Not since the Indonesian Food Fair that used to take place at the Duarte Inn has there been anything that has resonated with Indonesians and Indonesian food lovers alike. Its current gravitational pull is thanks to Eater, which made a YouTube video on its 77-year-old owner that racked up 2 million views.

If you’ve seen the video, you know that Medan Kitchen is not a restaurant; it’s more an indoor swap meet with most of the dishes packed in plastic bento boxes and stacked on picnic tables next to signs with its Indonesian name and a brief English translation.

But it’s also a platform for other food producers from the community. Some of the items sold on those tables, such as martabak manis and siomay Bandung, were not made by Medan Kitchen but other home chefs. It’s a cottage industry showcase of local Indonesian cooking. This fact makes Medan Kitchen more like Amazon’s marketplace, except without the monopolistic tendencies.

The nasi bungkus, however, is wholly created by Medan Kitchen’s now famous chef. And my friends, it is the best nasi bungkus I’ve had that wasn’t made by my mom.

The candied crispy shards of fried potato was addicting, the sambal scorching, and the rendang fall-apart tender. The fragrance of the coconut rice, which I chose over regular, was amped by the botanical aroma of the banana leaf wrapper.

The term “bungkus”, which means simply “wrapped” and “nasi”, which refers to the rice, leaves everything else to interpretation.

There’s no set rule as to what goes into the meal, except that it should have at least two proteins, contain some sort of vegetable, and make an Indonesian think of home.

Medan Kitchen
8518 Valley Blvd STE 102
Rosemead, CA 91770


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