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Driving down the winding East Capitol Drive at Pasig’s Kapitolyo, we came upon a lovely mid-century house in which the best home-cooked Indonesian food I have so far enjoyed in Manila is served. Warung Kapitolyo.

You’ll know you’re there when you see this intricately carved wooden doorway in front. Simply drive up (there is parking inside) and walk into the house’s warm and welcoming interiors. The high ceilings, the open-spaced set-up, the touches of traditional Indonesian embellishments… but, most of all, the friendly and genial hospitality of owners Louh Decena and Tess Doctora and their wonderful staff … all combine to make anyone feel right gladly received and at ease.

In a nutshell, Louh and her sister Tess have lived as expats in Jakarta for decades. When they returned to the Philippines, they decided to bring home with them the flavors of Indonesian cuisine that they learned to love. Louh admitted that they really knew next to nothing about running a restaurant business. In fact, Louh herself will admit that she is not a trained professional cook. What she did know was how to cook the traditional Indonesian food she and her sister had learned to love all those years. So they took a chance and, with the help of Indonesian experts, set up Warung in Kapitolyo. From fine-tuning the recipes and facilitating staff training to the design and aesthetics of the house they bought and renovated to provide that wonderfully homey Indonesian atmosphere, Warung came into being.

They make it a point, as much as possible, to use authentic Indonesian ingredients and spices, making their own sambal, saus kacang (peanut sauce), and tempeh (which is like tofu but better, tastier, and healthier). They even grow their own Indonesian chillies and herbs to ensure that the flavors are as true to the cuisine as possible. But they also bring in special Indonesian ingredients which cannot be found here, even the butter. The result is dishes which are homey, uncomplicated, and delicious Indonesian comfort food.

Warung Kapitolyo is on 83 East Capitol Drive in Pasig. It’s open from Monday to Saturday, from lunch to dinner. To make reservations, you may call 0917.534.7089. On Sundays, you can drop by their stall at the Legazpi Sunday Market in Makati and get your Indonesian food fix right there and then or to go. Warung, after all, means a stall or stand in Bahasa.

 

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