Kaki Lima — Indonesian Street Fare

Retno Pratiwi

18 reviews · 3 Menus · Kitchensurfing approval pending

Indonesian Street. Indonesian Fusion. Fun. Messy. I work with a lot of spices and if you are into it, I'll make it hot!

Kaki Lima literally means "Five Legs," a reference to the two feet and three wheels that make up the traditional, and moveable, street food stalls popular in Java. Kaki Lima roam the streets, the vendors calling out their singular specialties for all to hear. If they find a customer, they stop and start cooking. In my opinion, it's the most fun way to eat. So like the Kaki Lima of my hometown Jakarta, I will come and cook for you!

18 reviews

Nick F. May 31, 2014

Retno and her awesome assistant, Peter, set up shop in my boyfriend's apartment the night before he moved out (so this isn't Nick writing this, but the feelings are mutual). Nick had me thinking we were swinging by his apartment quickly before we went out for an early birthday meal but what a surprise it was to see a tiny table set for two in the bare dining room with candles surrounding it and aromas wafting from the kitchen.
Last year I lived in Indonesia and fell in love with the country, and having moved back to Boston I was disappointed to find a void of Indonesian cuisine, that I had hoped to be a portal through which I could still experience Indonesia.
Cut to the chase, Retno and Peter's creations were EXACTLY what I remember in Indonesia. Their ingredients were so fresh and bursting with flavor. The salad (mohon ma'af Retno aku lupa namanya) that we started the course from was phenomenal, with galangal, mini eggplants, sprouts, short beans, and a spicy peanut sauce. The tempeh goreng and satay ayam - fried tempeh and chicken satay - were exactly what I've been craving for the past year, alongside a delicious tomato based fiery sambal that was more delicious than the ones in Indonesia. The food sent me back across the Pacific and I couldn't help but skip the utensils and eat with my hands. Another treat was the rambutan! Retno had somehow found real, ripe rambutan and offered them as in between course snacks. Then for dessert, Retno combined pastry puffs with fresh mango and raspberries with white chocolate which was a great way to finish off the dining.
The experience was lovely, our phenomenal feast aside, we had a great time talking with Retno and Peter. They were very easy going and accommodating, and fabulous company. We were SO excited to hear their goals of starting a pop-up restaurant this summer. We're crossing our fingers that it will turn into something more permanent. Semuanya enak sekali, dan Chef Retno sangat sangat baik. You must try their creations!!!!

Ryan K. May 10, 2014

Chef Retno and her husband were amazing. The food was very good and something I've never had before. My wife found some dishes a little spicy, but everyone else enjoyed the heat. Plenty of food left over, the proportions were quite large. You won't be disappointed.

Hailey B. May 3, 2014

We had a wonderful evening with Retno! The food - and presentation - was awesome. She was professional, super friendly, and made a wonderful dinner!

Marissa R. March 11, 2014

We had such a great night with Chef Retno! It was so relaxing and enjoyable, and the food was spectacular! Such interesting flavors! We would love to have the exact same meal again anytime ... hopefully soon!

Jeff K. March 10, 2014

Such a fun time.. we had 14 people over for dinner prior to a fundraiser. We wanted to enjoy our friends and not stress about the food or drinks. Retno made everything unique and extremely easy for us. She communicated very well up front.. we tweaked the menu slightly but substituted a mixed drink for an app and it was delicious! When you asked her a question.. its hard not to like her infectious smile.. her an her husband Peter did an outstanding job educating us on the food and guiding us through the night. So worth it!!

Jeremy D. March 5, 2014

We had Chef Retno deliver her nasi tumpeng menu to us and it was DELICIOUS! She is an amazing chef; every single one of her dishes were amazing - incredibly flavorful and out of this world. We loved the authenticity and freshness of the flavors and spices. Out favorites were the Kering Tempe Pedas Manis and Urap.
There was so much food just for the 2 of us, we even had plenty of leftovers!
Retno was able to accommodate for my girlfriends food intolerance without any problem!
We highly recommend Retno and would love to have her cook for us again!

Lynne M. January 26, 2014

What a fantastic experience. We booked Retno at short notice and she came up with a fab menu and tweaked it as required. Retno's communication was great, even emailing whilst preparing food on the day to check how spicy we like our food. On the night she made us the most delicious meal- all of us in the group eat out a lot and agreed it was the best meal we had in a long time. The flavours were interesting and everything was beautifully cooked. They did a great job clearing up, checked in with us that everything was to our liking and were gone before we even finished eating. A very professional service. We would highly recommend and hope to book Retno again in the future. Really fab!

Edward C. January 13, 2014

Retno and David were great! Because of crazy (read: normal) Boston winter weather we had to reschedule the dinner very last minute. Retno was incredibly understanding and even reached out to me first to offer to book another night.

Onto the food, which was just great. Having spent some time in Southeast Asia, it was great to relive some of those flavors. We absolutely loved the Sambal Goreng Kentang. Great flavor and perfectly cooked. Personally, I loved the Setup Nanas mocktail. I had never had a drink with those flavors before! And on top of it all, Retno provided surprise desserts!

Can't be beat, I would definitely recommend to any friends.

Nina R. December 14, 2013

We had Chef Retno deliver her nasi tumpeng feast to us. She was willing to accommodate some menu modifications and cooked up a delectable series of dishes. We have never eaten Indonesian food before and absolutely loved the flavors.

Varsha T. August 28, 2013

Retno made us a delicious meal with plenty of leftovers. Our family enjoyed having a new type of cuisine and we enjoyed hearing about Retno's experiences learning about cooking Indonesian food. Would definitely recommend this!

Dianne C. August 23, 2013

My partner's family is Indonesian and they all enjoyed the experience of having their familiar food cooked right in our home. Retno was warm, engaging, and very experienced with her traditional recipes. This was a gift I could give my partner's family and was overjoyed with their gratitude and delight.

Andy D. June 4, 2013

Chef Retno was amazing!! We booked her for a party of 10 at my parent's house in Lexington and she created some of the most interesting and flavorful food many of us had ever had. Everyone thought it was delicious! Her husband Peter did a great job with the chicken satay and Chef Retno worked with us in creating a menu specific for our group. The big winners were the veggies with shaved coconut (its called urap on her menu) and the crispy tempe. We will absolutely book Chef Retno again the next time we want amazing Indonesian food!!

Nina Y. June 1, 2013

Absolutely delicious, wonderful, and sooo much fun!

First of all, the food was fantastic. There's no Indonesian restaurant in Boston, so Retno is IT — and she's the real deal. Indonesian cuisine is so diverse, tasty and practical, too: it was the perfect idea for our party of about 20 people. It's nibbles, not heavy plates: healthy, wonderfully aromatic, delicious.

We had special chips ("emping," made from Indonesian nuts) and vegetables dipped in a "pecel" sauce (authentic peanut sauce with chiles and tamarind), tempeh in a turmeric/coriander batter with spicy "kecap manis", and for dessert pandan crepes (also called dadar gulung) filled with sweet shredded coconut and dipped in coconut creme sauce with palm sugar. Oooh, and a special lychee/cucumber/chia drink, super refreshing! Many of our friends have never been to Indonesia or had this sort of food, and they all loved it. And what's not to love about real food wonderfully prepared that tickles your tastebuds differently?

Both Retno and her husband came (he manned the satay grills, cooking over authentic coconut charcoal). They have a wonderful personal story and we loved them even more as guests, and as a couple, than as chefs --- and that's saying a lot. And after all the cooking, they started in on cleaning. At that point we began to feel guilty so we sent them home! But not without spending a few minutes brainstorming with them on startup ideas for an Indonesian restaurant in Boston.

We're definitely having them back. Anything Retno does will be fabulous. We loved, loved, loved them and you will, too.

Nina & Mike

Ruchi M. May 14, 2013

I simply cannot say enough good things about my experience with Retno - from the incredible, delicious, beautifully presented food to her lovely personality, fantastic communication through the whole process, and beyond. She and her husband Peter came down from Boston to NYC to cook brunch for a group of 10 friends celebrating a bachelorette weekend. They said they would be there at 9 AM and arrived at 8:59 on the dot. They got right down to cooking and just fit right in to the situation, never needing any direction and even making tea for us. As each of my friends woke up they came down the stairs commenting on the amazing smells coming out of the kitchen. By the time the food was ready, so were we - and it did not disappoint. Retno and Peter had created a number of delectable and complementary Indonesian dishes. Retno explained each dish to us, and then we went to town. The quality and flavors of the food were fantastic and we just couldn't stop exclaiming over it. The bride to be was so thrilled and thankful for the experience. She must have said a hundred times how much she loved it. Afterwards, Retno and Peter cleaned up, leaving the kitchen looking better than it did before they arrived. Besides being fabulous chefs, they were truly kind, funny, and engaging people that we would have been happy to meet anywhere. Highly recommended. I hope to see them again! Thank you for making my dear friend's special weekend that much more special!!

Katharine H. April 21, 2013

We had a meal for 8 -- the Nasi Tumpeng menu -- and it was completely fabulous in every way. Retno was extremely accommodating in allowing us to add guests, and she communicated with us as needed while we were planning. Her food is creative and truly delicious. This was our first Kitchensurfing experience and we chose Retno because we had been to Indonesia once, loved some of the food we ate there, and haven't been able to find similarly good food in the US. The dishes Retno cooked in our kitchen were more delicious than anything we actually ate in Indonesia, just as beautifully presented, and contained the same flavors that we loved so much in Indonesia. She and Peter were really pleasant and efficient in using our kitchen. They left it cleaner than it had been when they arrived. The meal was way more perfect than I thought it could be! We also really appreciated that they came down from Boston to cook and felt lucky that it worked out. Even the leftovers were great...and are completely gone now. I hope we will be able to hire Retno again sometime soon. It was a great experience.

Wendy E. March 25, 2013

We really enjoyed our evening. The food was delicious, and Retno and her husband Peter could not have been more pleasant. Our friends were really into the dinner and concept as well. My feedback has nothing to do with Retno - just the actual experience of giving our kitchen up for the day. Our expectation from the KS team was that this was a substitute for going out for a nice meal with friends. And it was - to an extent. Having to be home from 2:00 on (the original plan was for them to be there then but they came at 3) was not ideal. We had to alternate who was home to make sure someone was there with them. By the time they left at 10 after cleaning (immaculately!) we had been housebound for 8 hours. This is a pretty major commitment. Additionally there is a lot of setup to handle on our end that we wouldn't have had to do for a night out - cleanup, bringing in our patio furniture, rearranging the apartment to fit 8 people for a seated dinner, etc. Don't get me wrong - it's definitely an "Experience!" The pretty major issue outside of having to be home all day long was the smell - although completely delicious! - still permeates the apartment. We don't have great ventilation in our rental apartment. All this being said - we would love to do this again but it would have to be specific circumstances - a cuisine that doesn't require so many hours of prep in our apartment would be most important. If we had a proper dining table, that would help. Also helpful, though not currently possible, to making this a really pleasant experience would be if we had a larger apartment or home in which to host so many people - obviously this is on us and not KS. This would all be easier if we had a smaller group - 4-6 people would be a lot less strain on us. :)

Ezra E. March 25, 2013

This was an incredible event! Retno and Peter spent all day with us, cooking, telling us about everything they were making and how they were making it. And when they brought the food out all our friends were blown away. The presentation was impeccable but it was nothing compared to the taste. Not having ever eaten Indonesian food before I didn't really know what to expect, but I loved every bite (as one of the hosts, I'm very excited for all the leftovers in my fridge).

Nick F. March 10, 2013

Retno and her husband Peter were incredible! We LOVED having them cook for our team. The food was delicious, presentation outstanding and personality very inviting. We had a blast, highly recommend!