Indonesian fried chicken, coconut rice, and arak cocktails are coming to East Burnside. Wajan is set to open this spring, serving a number of chef Feny Lim’s personal favorites from her hometown, Jakarta.
In late 2018, Eater PDX broke the news that an Indonesian restaurant would open in the former Laurelhurst Cafe space, but there wasn’t much to know beyond that; now, chef Feny has returned from a long visit home with several dishes she plans to recreate at her restaurant, including ayam goreng Kalasan, an Indonesian style of fried chicken. “It’ll have these seasoned, crunchy crumbs, served with raw vegetables called lalab,” she describes. “You’ll eat a sambal (chili paste) with the raw cabbage, and then mix it all the crumbs with the rice.”
Feny is a big fan of Indonesia’s several rice dishes, including street food classics like nasi campur, a mixed-rice dish with various optional toppings. Wajan will offer a customizable nasi campur, as well as one of Feny’s personal favorites, a coconut rice dish called nasi uduk.
Feny has always been interested in cooking, but her career blossomed from homesickness. “When I first came to the US, I lived in Los Angeles, and there are Indonesian restaurants there, but (the dishes) are not quite how I remember them,” Feny says. She started cooking the meals she learned from her mother, which eventually became her food cart, Wayang House. After the cart closed, Feny moved to Cambodia, where she helped open an Indonesian restaurant; many of the dishes there will end up on the Wajan menu. That being said, Wajan will mainly stick to dishes Feny ate growing up, especially those made by her mother. “My parents are from Sumatra, so the rendang that I make, it’ll definitely be Sumatran style — very rich, with more than 10 ingredients,” Feny says.
The restaurant’s design is also a nod to Feny’s hometown, from touches of batik throughout the restaurant to a mural of the Jakarta. Wajan, which means wok but is also short for Warung Jajan (snack shop in Indonesian), should open in mid-March or April.