22 October 2013

Ria Sari Indonesian Padang Takeway ~ Randwick

Ria Sari is one of Sydney's last great ye olde hole-in-the-wall joints.

[Updated July, 2017]

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.


We did a drive-by in July just to see if the joint was still running, not expecting to them to be open on a Sunday.  This glorious, ancient resto is unchanged and possibly the last of it's kind in Sydney. We ask the owner how long the joint has been going. "Twenty-seven years" he says, proudly. We ask how long he reckons he will keep going for. He just laughs.

We go the soto ayam - chicken soup - which is coconut-y like a laksa...

The soto Jakarta is even more laksa-ish, this time with beef.

The soups are noodle-free and served with a plate of rice on the side, a nice change.

We get some takeaway nasi campur for dinner - three choices with rice for about eight bucks each. We've been doing this a lot lately - dine in for lunch and grab some takeway for dinner later on - it supports the owner and extends the experience, win-win all round.

Ria Sari is at 142 Barker Street, Randwick - phone 02 9399 6101. Long live Ria Sari.

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  1. Looking at the colour, they might have mixed the avo juice with chocolate condensed milk. That's how they like to do it in Java and its dang goooood! I'm salivating just looking at it.

  2. Thanks to you guys, I can no longer say the words "bain marie" without adding "of love" instinctively lol.

    P.S. my Indonesian mother would like to adopt you both :)

    Oh and with that avocado shake... if you enjoyed that, next time keep your eyes out for es alpokat kopi on any menus (iced avocado coffee). Sounds bizarre but it works! I was raised on the stuff haha. Or give it a whirl at home for happy fun times: http://www.singaporelocalfavourites.com/2010/04/alpokat-indonesian-avocado-smoothie.html (scroll down to the coffee version, I haven't followed any recipes though, so just tinker with it to your taste)

    1. es alpokat kopi - that's on the list. Tell mum the adoption papers are in the mail.

  3. Haha, me too: bain marie of love is in the lexicon now!


  4. Wow the last time I was here must've be around late 90's/early 00's and it still looks the same, down to that sweet/red chicken.

  5. Ria Sari is the last of a few golden oldies left. The western half of the premises used to be a much better Singaporean restaurant, but a change of owners saw it go downhill and finally fold. I've been going here since 1989. Another 2 places that are now gone, but were outstanding, were The Kwali on Anzac Pde Kingsford and Asian Tea House on Avoca St Randwick. Asian tea house was best with its original owners. Subsequent owners saw it diminish somewhat.

  6. Yay...stoked you guys finally made it to Ria Sari . If you make it back you have to have the eggplant dish - it's the standout must have dish for me. The lamb curry is usually good too and surprisingly meaty. One really handy thing about Ria Sari is that its open really early ...I've had early lunch there at 10:00am before...not many places open and ready to go at that time .

  7. I go there all the time after my Karate class. I pull up my car and buy my dinners.

  8. I go there to buy my take-away dinner all the times after my karate class. I usually pull up my car and buy my dinner at night.

  9. I have literally been going here for 20 years. My dad would take me as a young boy. I still go regularly, its so incredibly nostalgic. Literally nothing has changed the entire time i have been going.

    1. Mmmm, have to give this another whirl now, thanks for putting in our brain!


Thanks for your comment joy - please keep your musings happy - if you want to complain about a restaurant please do it on a restaurant review site (or your own blog) - we're all about celebrating cultural diversity and the great eats that come along with it :-)

Our ethics: We pay for all our own meals and travel (though sometimes Mum shouts us).