Portland will soon have a new Indonesian restaurant on East Burnside. Portland restaurant vets Feny Lim and Ross Grimes have filed a liquor license for Wajan, which will take over the former Laurelhurst Cafe space this spring. Grimes says the restaurant will include table service, but details are scarce at the moment — Stay tuned.
For those unfamiliar, Indonesian cuisine is incredibly diverse, spanning the massive group of Southeast Asian islands. It’s the birthplace of tempeh, as well as the multifaceted spiced beef dish rendang. An Indonesian restaurant could serve everything from fish dumplings steamed in banana leaves, siomay, to whole roasted suckling pig, babi guling.
Wajan may be Portland’s only full-service Indonesian restaurant — Portland does have an Indonesian coffee house, Kopi, just down the street on Burnside, as well as the eclectic pop-up Gado Gado. A few Indonesian food carts have come and gone: Wayang House, a spot for fried dishes like nasi goreng, closed in 2012. Satay Indonesia, a food cart within the 9th and Alder pod, closed in 2016 when its chef decided to open Smokin’ Bowls, an Indonesian-influenced bowl restaurant — Smokin’ Bowls has also closed. Here’s hoping Wajan opens soon and sticks around.