Jan 2014 Update
We returned to Padi tonight with a group of San Leandro friends, including a couple who’d spent months traveling around Indonesia after college (and who actually remembered how to speak some Indonesian!). While the menu is still limited, this gave us an opportunity to try some dishes we’d missed the time before. I’m glad we did, for a couple of them ere real winners.
My favorite has to be the Mie Tek Tek Ayam (Fried Noodle w/ Chicken – $9). The thick soft noodles resembled those in chow mein, but were coated with a sauce that had a lovely, slightly sweet flavor. The dish was very well balanced and it was a generous portion. I’d definitely order it again.
I only had a bite of what I believe was the Ayam Balado (Spicy Chili Chicken – $10), bone-in chicken in a heavy dark sauce, but it was delicious. It was, again, slightly sweet but with a deep flavor. I’d like to have more. The chicken satay was once again a winner, though once again I disliked the peanut sauce, though my daughter liked it.
While it’s not on the menu, the Nasi Goreng (Chicken & shrimp fried rice – $9) was also tasty, though not more than the Chinese version. My friends all seemed to like the eggplant dish, but I didn’t try it. The one dish nobody thought much of was the Gado Gado (Indonesian Warm Salad w/ Peanut Sauce – $8). I’m not surprised, as it was the same sauce that came with the satay.
Service was amazing, with two very attentive waiters who catered our every need. The owner chef came to our table a few times, and he gave us a complimentary dessert. My daughter loved the Ketan Hitam (Black glutinous rice pudding with coconut milk – $5) but I wasn’t as fond of it. It wasn’t too sweet and it just didn’t do it for me. She was happy she could eat my portion.
Padi also sells some Indonesian goodies you can take with you (as well as Indonesian food items to do your own cooking), and Mike bought a container of something that looked like donut holes. They weren’t quite that, but they were very tasty as well.
In all, it was a great dinner and I’d love to go back soon for more of those noodles!
Original Review – September 2013
I love Indonesian food so I was glad to find that Padi opened a restaurant in unincorporated San Leandro. This restaurant is by no means perfect, and anywhere but in San Leandro it might not merit much enthusiasm, but there is such a dearth of food variety here that it is more than welcomed.
The restaurant’s main problem is its lack of ambiance. Now, I traveled throughout many developing countries on a $15 a day budget and I can find some nostalgia on undecorated dining rooms with formica tables and metal chairs, but only if they come together with dirt cheap food. Padi’s prices are too high, and they should make more of an effort to spruce the place up.
Having to order at the front, rather than on the table, is also annoying. You are crowded by the entrance, trying to quickly decide between the limited selections, which makes it less than a relaxing experience. Given how small the place is, I don’t quite understand why they can’t take orders at the table.
The menu includes a small selection of meat and vegetarian items. If you want to try them all, you can go for a “mini” rijstaffel for two which includes 12 items for $44. Unfortunately, they do not serve any breads/pancakes, my favorite Indonesian items.
On the plus side, the food is pretty tasty. The chicken satay ($10 for 6 skewers) was delicious, with a strong, sweet flavor and a nice peanut sauce. The ayam madu, or honey grilled chicken ($12), was similar, though it didn’t come in skewers. It was somewhat sweeter and perhaps less balanced. Both were grilled and had some blackened parts which added to the flavor.
The beef rendang ($11) was also good, though too spicy for the kids (just spicy enough for me). I felt it needed a bit more intensity, however, and this is a dish that would prove boring if it’s all you ordered.
Service was very good and pleasant. I definitely want to return.
Padi Restaurant & Catering
16695 E 14th St
San Leandro, CA
M, W-F 11:30 AM – 3 PM, 4 PM – 8 PM
Sa – Su 10 AM – 8 PM