We've watched with sadness as many of Sydney's old style restaurants were closed or renovated over the past few years. These older style places are the ones that give us that travelling feeling, the sense of another place and country, offering a style of food that is made in a homely way.
Sighting Ria Sari made our hearts leap and our stomachs dance with anticipation. Old tables? Yep. Sad looking storefront? Yep. Owners sitting around having a friendly chat? Yep. Home made menu board? Yep. We were in heaven.
Several readers have mentioned Ria Sari over the years. We didn't know exactly where it to find it, so we went on an exploratory mission up Barker Street one Saturday. Just as well we were in a car as the hill up from UNSW is super steep, and Ria Sari is some way from the main Randwick drag as well. Turns out it is in a small group of shops just down from the hospital.
Ria Sari is Chinese-Indonesian, a variation that we've really come to appreciate over the years. It's not as spicy and less intensely flavoured as more traditional Indonesian, but it's easier on the system and there's less scary things in the bainmarie. The food here seems very home style, it's good, honest, simple food. It's been here since the early 1990's and it looks like they haven't done any renovations since they opened.
Ria Sari menu.
The es avacado ($4.50) is a surprise hit. We're not sure what they mix up the avo with, but there's a slight salty hit and some chocolate sprinkles at the top, this really works. The es salasi ($4) - is basil seeds in a sweet syrup with jackfruit and longon. It's pretty good but the avacado drink is the standout.
Nasi campur - three choices from the bainmarie of love and rice - $7.50. Green beans with liver, giblets or kidney, a simple cabbage-y vege stir fry and a piece of strong, sweet salty fish. Pretty dang good.
Another nasi campur - $7.50. Chicken with a kind of sweet'n'sour flavour to it, egg curry (fried egg in a tumeric curry sauce - yum!) and more green beans and liver or kidney. We didn't realise the beans came with innards until too late, but they were mild flavoured innards and tasted pretty good even by Mr Shawn's officially non-offally taste buds.
Another visit and another nasi campur with spicy potato, soft tofu and beef rendang. There's a $1.50 surcharge for the rendang. It's the dry Sumatran style of rendang that we love so much.
Soto ayam - chicken soup - $8.50. A chicken soup with the usual tumeric flavours and finished with coconut milk. Yay.
Sop buntut - oxtail soup - $9.50. A thin meaty broth with a few chunks of meat on the bone. Cloves give the broth an extra pizzazz. We were buzzing over this one. This is a noodle-free soup so get some rice on the side if you're hungry.
Chili sambal served on the side.
Ria Sari is at 142 Barker Street, Randwick - phone 02 9399 6101. Long live Ria Sari.
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