Nov 23, 2021 - Food and Drink
Chef's Table: Hardena co-owner Diana Widjojo talks home cooking
Diana Widjojo, co-owner and chef at the Indonesian restaurant Hardena.
Diana Widjojo, co-owner and chef at her family restaurant Hardena in South Philly. Photo courtesy of Diana Widjojo

Chef Diana Widjojo is carrying on her parents' legacy by serving Indonesian dishes at her popular restaurant Hardena in South Philly.

State of play: The co-owner, whose creative takeout options helped keep the long-time eatery alive during the pandemic, has transformed Hardena's Instagram account into a powerhouse with more than 18,000 followers.

  • In 2018, Widjojo and her family scored a nomination from the James Beard Foundation as one of the best chefs in the region.
  • And since we're talking accolades, restaurateur and celebrity chef Guy Fieri has even dubbed Hardena the "Indonesian embassy of Flavortown."

We spoke to Widjojo for our culinary advice series Chef's Table.

🛠 Must-have tool in your home kitchen: A food processor.

  • "So many things you can do with it, but most importantly, it's time-saving for me blending ingredients to make pastes/food bases."

🍲 Favorite home-cooked meal: Any kind of stew or roast chicken.

  • "My favorite is roasting chicken with sweet soy sauce glaze."

🍽 Last restaurant you went to and what you ordered: REX 1516 for her birthday.

  • "It was my first time there, and I was surprised to see she crab soup, which is my ultimate go-to dish when I travel to the South. But my favorite dish was the crawfish pot pie!”

🛒 Go-to grocery store: The new H Mart.

  • "They have so many products to choose from, but if I need something quick, Whole Foods or Sprouts are usually my go to."

🤔 Most overlooked ingredient: Ginger, "of any type."

  • "The main four I use are: your everyday ginger, turmeric, galangal and kaempferia galanga. It just gives an extra warmth and fragrant flavor to your dishes, and you don't need much. Plus, it's healthy for you."

☝🏽 Quick tip for at-home cooks: Set boundaries.

  • "For example, if I'm cooking, my partner cleans. But I guess if you live alone this doesn't help LOL."

🔌 How to unplug: "I try to go hiking often, but on a daily basis, I would just relax on my couch and watch shows on Netflix."

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