Oh, man. Hardena has been on my to-do list since I started this blog. I have never heard one word other than high praise for this ramshackle Indonesian point-and-receive food line in South Philly, yet I have somehow never made it a priority to it hit up. If you've similarly slacked, hit. it. up. now.
For one thing, I thought Harden was a little farther south than it really is (I walk most every place I eat), but it's only a few blocks west of all the happenings on E. Passyunk Ave.
The other thing, I knew there was always a vegetarian option on the steam table, but I didn't know there were so many. I was overwhelmed when the sweet woman behind the counter rattled off six different vegetarian options. I was only expecting two, or three at most.
So, what you get at Hardena is your choice of three items on top of rice for the low, low price of $6. There's a menu on the wall across from the counter, but it's best to just ask the person behind the counter what's on the steam table. Say "vegetarian" if you are, and they'll kindly tell you what's available. Pour yourself some water from the large cooler, and have a seat with your plate. I got collards, tempeh goreng, and angel hair rice noodles with tofu and beans. Sounds simple, but it's not. It's layers of complex, spicy, delicious yum over rice...which is my favorite meal in the whole world. I could eat this every day.
The boy got battered tempeh (kinda like lemony tempeh tempura), yellow fish, and tofu something-or-another. Again, complex, spicy, delicious yum over rice.
All plates come dressed with Hardena's homemade chili and lime leaf hot sauce, if you wish...and you do. You can buy some of the hot sauce to take home, as well.
Hardena very much reminded me of Genelle's in Wilmington, my favorite point-and-receive Wilmo restaurant (sadly, now closed) that served complex, spicy, delicious, Caribbean yum over rice. Hardena just puts the Indonesian (influence from Chinese, Indian, Middle Eastern, and European cuisines) into the yum. And Hardena is a little more, um, let's use the word ramshackle again, but charming and outstandingly delicious, for sure.
Prediction: Hardena wins "best of" in the next Mac & Cheese end of the year roundup.
1754 Hicks St., Philadelphia, PA 19145