RM Pondok Salero, the Neighbourhood Fixture

by Runi Cholid
14th May 2024
Almost 50 years old, RM Pondok Salero has been a stalwart presence in the Roxy area in Central Jakarta , serving up an array of Minangkabau delicacies for a satisfying meal of Nasi Padang.

Each day, as the sun goes out of sight, the Roxy neighbourhood in Central Jakarta comes alive with street food carts and tents that set up shop along the sidewalks, beckoning weary commuters with the promise of a fulfilling dinner. Among them stands RM Pondok Salero, a Padang food stall that has been a stalwart presence in the area since its inception in 1975.

To call it an eatery would be generous; in addition to a simple tarp tent, under which big basins brimming with deep-fried omelettes to Gulai Tunjang (beef tendons curry) deck the multi-tiered ‘bar’, three wooden tables sprawl right on the sidewalk where patrons dine beneath the luminous street lights.

Yet despite the humble set-up, RM Pondok Salero has quietly outlasted the 20th-century Roxy cinema that once defined the area (hence the name). Now almost 50 years old, the third generation currently runs the family-owned business, still serving up an array of Minangkabau delicacies for a satisfying meal of Nasi Padang.

Dishes are for the most part familiar, with selections such as Ayam Bakar (grilled chicken) and Gulai Nangka (jackfruit curry) that are easily found across Padang eateries in the city. Their type of beef and potato Rendang, however, is a bit more unconventional. Hailing from Bukittinggi, West Sumatra, the family cooks their rendang until it blackens—true to the region’s style. The process further accentuates the savoury notes of the dish, to match with a warm plate of rice.

“It takes eight hours to cook [the rendang], so we have to start at 8 in the morning. Every day, without breaks,” shared Apjay, one of the nine third-generation owners.

For the local community, RM Pondok Salero’s longtime presence has earned the food stall their trust and reliance for a hearty meal that doesn’t require a second thought. Even those who have moved out of the area would return, not just for the food, but also for the memories of dining there throughout the years. Garbed in office wear, or bed-ready in simple t-shirts and shorts, they dig energetically into their generously heaped plates (most forgoing cutleries) while being serenaded by the sonorous tones of buskers and the busy rumbling of street traffic.