Lawuh Ndeso, Yearning for Salatiga home-cooking

Lawuh Ndeso
Despite the location, it is the most-sought home-cooking food. Photos: Caecilia Linggarjati

IO – A certain alley in Salatiga, Lawuh Ndeso, is always packed with visitors desiring to taste the famous traditional Central Javanese home-cooked food, namely brongkos, lodeh (mixed vegetables in savory coconut soup), sayur asem (mixed vegetables in sweet and sour soup), sayur bening (clear vegetable soup) and other Javanese dishes. 

The word “Lawuh Ndeso” refers to a variety of Javanese dishes offered in this modest yet tantalizing style. The various dishes are served in blirik bowl, a typical traditional canned bowl, in the display counter. Guests can choose a desired menu item from the attendants behind the counter. 

bacem tofu
Rown rice with urap and bacem tofu.

As a Jakarta resident, I was very enthusiastic, just looking at the traditional Javanese meals before my eyes. I cannot recall when the last time I had brongkos, or other vegetable dishes. Unable to decide which food to choose, or probably wanting to have all the menus, I decided to go for a plate of brown rice and brongkos. Brongkos is a unique vegetable soup consisting of Indonesian tofu, black-eyed pea, meat, palm sugar, chili, various spices, coconut milk, and egg. Pretty much all the nutritious food you would need in a dish! 

But brongkos is not enough! I had to try and have the other dishes. The gorengan (fried tofu or tempeh), pepes (fish or chicken in banana wrappings and steamed or grilled), and bacem tofu (tofu boiled in coconut water, spices and palm sugar to dry) and looked so tempting while they were waving at me. They would taste different, although some small Jakarta warteg would also have the same menu. 

The hot brown rice fused together with the various menu items I had chosen from the counter were then served beautifully on my table. The authentic Javanese bacem tofu tasted sweeter and better here. All the food, especially the brongkos, truly satiated my appetite, longing for home-cooking. 

blirik can bowls
Various dishes in blirik can bowls.

Lawuh Ndeso gets busier towards lunchtime, and the local people still have lunch there too, proving that the restaurant is popular with the locals and still charges a low price. A review on the internet also shows visitors’ satisfaction. 

Although Lawuh Ndeso is secluded in a small alley, there are enough parking lots for cars and motorcycles at the front of the venue. Apart from opening daily, guests can reserve Lawuh Ndeso to cater to weddings, meetings, and other gatherings. 

Lawuh Ndeso
Safe distance between tables, in compliance with the safety protocols.

The nuance in Lawuh Ndeso brings back the old and fond memories as the place is decorated in a vintage look, with old rustic furniture and ornaments. The table and chairs represent the olden day’s warung (small and traditional retail, eatery, or café). 

There is enough space between tables, so you need not worry about safety protocol. Distance is well maintained, there are plenty of wash basins for guests to wash hands, and staff and visitors must keep their masks on. (cae)