One day a friend of mine asked me a question: Do you want to eat gado-gado? At first I admired his courage in offering me something that I don’t eat that often (vegetables) and obviously my subsequent question ensued: What’s so special about this one?
He said “This is the best one in Sydney and you even need to call them up in advance or be prepared to wait for an hour”. I was really tempted to say: are you mad? I’m not going to wait for an hour for my meal!
However, there was that ‘call in advance’ method (I still had my doubts at that time) that we can utilise so that we don’t need to wait for an hour.
We went on a Sunday afternoon and the restaurant was quite packed (good indicator of a nice restaurant!). Willis Canteen is the name of the restaurant. There were no big dramatic sign boards and no fancy decors. It was a plain and simple canteen!
As we were a bit late (because somehow we went to a different location!), my friend was already there with the gado-gado my wife ordered already on the table! She pointed out that this gado-gado was very similar to the ones in her city. Gado-gado literally translates into mishmash or mixes. It is a mixture of boiled vegetables with homemade peanut sauce. This peanut sauce is the very reason the preparation time was long. It wasn’t from that pre-packaged stuff you get from Asian groceries. They were passionately (and freshly) made by the chef.
I ordered another variant of peanut-based dish, Ketoprak. I will let you read the description in Wikipedia for ketoprak. Ketoprak is slightly different than gado-gado, but if you get the elements wrong it will be called something else. Their ketoprak was fabulous!
We also ordered Iga Penyet and Rendang. Iga penyet was a lot simpler in presentation. It was beef ribs with just a couple of vegetables and a small stone mortar with spicy sambal (chilli). In Indonesia the term ‘penyet’ is actually used for smashing the sambal with the main (usually soybean cake, eggplant, or chicken). The beef rendang was the icing on the cake on the already nice lunch.
The final verdict for Willis Canteen on facebook
Willis Canteen surprised me in many good ways! I can feel the owners’ passion for food in every dish they served.
Did you know?
Seriously, if you are told that you will be waiting for a long time for your gado-gado, it means you WILL be waiting for a long time. If you want to order the peanut-based stuff, please call them in advance!
Rating for Willis Canteen:
7.5 / 10
Taste: 8.0 / 10
Price: $10 – $15 per dish
Place: 6.5 / 10
197/392 Jones Street, Ultimo
+61 2 8040 8372