Restaurants / Bars

Warung Kapitolyo Goes the Extra Mile With Ingredients Straight From Indonesia

January 28, 2018

Warung Warung’s stayed a Legazpi Sunday Market favorite since opening their stall in 2007, inducing long lines of diners with their reasonably-priced, stellar-tasting takes on Indonesian fare to this day. Heads up, fans: you can now indulge in their specialties even from Tuesdays to Saturdays with the opening of their full-fledged restaurant, located right at the heart of Kapitolyo.

Warung Warung’s full-fledged restaurant finds home in a former house—no wonder it’s hard not to feel at home here.

Expanding to the restaurant side of the business was never in the plans for sisters and Warung owners Tess Doctora and Louh Decena. Both sisters had stayed in Indonesia (Doctora for 15 years, Decena for 28), fell in love with the cuisine, and learned to cook it themselves leading to the opening of the market stall—but had no prior restaurant experience. With the overwhelming demand from their many patrons to have their food even outside the weekends however, they decided it was about time they give it a go. Barely a year old, the restaurant’s succeeded in drawing in hoards of customers, including old loyals, new fans, and even Indonesian families.

Some of the furniture pieces and artwork are from Louh’s personal collection, sourced from Indonesia and formerly kept right in her home.

Whereas the Legazpi Market stall showcases their own renditions of Indonesian specialties (still with traditional methods and using ingredients from Indonesia, but with the flavoring ratios adjusted to their own personal preferences), the Warung Warung restaurant focuses on preserving the traditional tastes of Indonesian food—just as you would find it in the country itself. In doing this, they go the extra mile, enlisting the help of Indonesian consultants who’d helped train their staff in food preparation and importing as many ingredients from Indonesia (including the butter, the sugar, the soy sauce, and the spices). Where possible, they grow their own native Indonesian ingredients not otherwise available on our shores (e.g. Indonesian chilies Cabe Merah, Cabe Rawit, and Cabe Keriting, which Doctora and Decena now farm themselves). Moreover, the Warung team makes as many components from scratch and in-house—including their peanut sauce (made with raw peanuts, which they roast and manually grind the old fashioned-way), their shrimp paste, and their sambal.

Cozy but elegant is the name of the game for Warung Kapitolyo’s interiors.

The restaurant retains their all-time market bestsellers, including their Beef Rendang (the original, marked as the “Legazpi” version), Ayam Goreng, and Sate Ayam. But you’ll also find improved versions of the these market offerings (including a separate, new version of the said Beef Rendang), as well as other newly-added Indonesian dishes which they render with the same stellar execution they’ve come to be known for. Here are our top picks:

Tahu Telur

The tahu telur is a celebration of diversity in tastes, textures, and colors as they all congregate into one tasty veggie dish.

Translated as tofu and egg, this East Javan dish is made with the said ingredients deep-fried to form a “web” resting on a bed of raw cabbage, bean sprouts, fried shallots, and their special peanut sauce. It’s a party of contrasts as the soft tofu collides with the savory, crispy egg and fresh, crunchy vegetables, with the ultra-creamy peanut sauce tying all parts together.

Ikan Pepes

It might look small, but this fish dish packs a whallop of flavor. (The author cautions you to be careful around those chili seeds—they are hot!)

Though often overlooked by customers, this distinctive fish dish—popular across Indonesia and found in many corner eateries—is one underrated gem. Whole pieces of tilapia (the closest locally-available counterpart to the traditional fish used, ikan mas) are rubbed with a spice paste of turmeric and Indonesian chilies, wrapped in banana leaves, and steamed. The entire “parcel” is then grilled as you order, lending a smoky, pungent aroma as you open the packet. Cooked to a melt-in-your-mouth succulence, the fish takes on the flavors of the spice paste—a complex but harmonious libretto that starts sweet and coconut-y (not unlike our own gata dishes) before going a robust, spicy turn, and ending with the surprise heat of the chilis. Be prepared to eat tons of rice with this one.

Martabak Manis

Aside from knowing how to make it herself, Decena also flew the restaurant’s head cooks to Jakarta to master the art of making the unique batter. The secret to getting the taste right, Decena shares, is in the use of Indonesian butter. “It’s [just] not the same without it!”

For dessert or for a sweet snack, try the Martabak manis—a pancake-like Indonesian street snack distinguished by its thickness and honeycomb-like cross section. Chewy, spongy, and just slightly sweet—think bibingka crossed with crumpets—the cooked pancake is topped with a boatload of dairy goodness (cheese, milk, and Indonesian butter) before being folded over like a sandwich, melting the toppings into a sweet-and-salty pool that works its way into each and every crevice.


Warung Kapitolyo

The full-fledged restaurant of Legazpi Sunday Market favorite Warung Warung, serving traditional Indonesian food.

ADDRESS: 83 East Capitol Drive,Kapitolyo
Pasig 1603
VISIT: 12NN-9PM (Tuesdays–Thursdays), 12NN-10PM (Fridays), 11AM-10PM (Saturdays and Sundays)
CONTACT: 0917-800-9158 / warungkapitolyo@yahoo.com
SPEND: PHP 200-500
FOLLOW: Facebook / Instagram

 

Patricia Baes SEE AUTHOR Patricia Baes

Trish thinks too much about everything—truth, existence.....and what’s on her plate. Her ongoing quest for a better relationship with food has led to a passion for cooking, gastronomy, and a newfound interest in its politics. She is a cheapskate in other aspects of her life, preferring to use her savings on specialty vinegars and degustation menus. While she admits to eating out too much, cooking and baking remain her first love, and she's always looking for quirky new ways to use up seasonal produce. Thanks to her obsession with (unnecessarily) making everything from scratch, she is now desperate to clear her fridge full of homemade condiments. She dreams of perfecting the art of making soufflé with her crappy toaster oven.

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