Restaurant of the Week: Pondok Salero

CLOSED 2008

Pondok Salero, 2105 Foothill Blvd. (at D), La Verne.

I don’t usually list in this feature all the new places I visited in the past week, just my favorite. But as I’ve tried several new-to-me restaurants since last week’s entry, let me mention them all.

First there was Lily’s Tacos, on North Garey in Pomona, the little stand with the vinyl rain guard near M&I Surplus, where I had a superior al pastor burrito. Second came Bua Thai, a new Thai place in the Claremont Village Expansion, which had a line out the door but to my taste was only average. (“Thai food for people who don’t like Thai food,” one friend remarked.) Next came Sushi Shiro, in Upland, in the former Cafe Provencal space, where I had a decent sushi lunch and saw a rarity, a woman training as a sushi chef.

But I’ll tell you in detail about the place I had lunch Thursday: Pondok Salero in La Verne, perhaps the valley’s sole Indonesian restaurant.

Pondok is in a storefront on Foothill Boulevard, in the strip center with Shogun. It teeters on the brink between fast food and sit-down, being wider than it is deep and with a steam table at the counter, and yet with table service and an inviting gold-painted walls and tasteful art. (There doesn’t seem to be a buffet; the server dished up my food from the steam table.)

I’m a novice at this, so I got Paket Rames Ayam ($7.25), which is a piece of chicken simmered in coconut milk. It came with rice, a spicy egg (a hardboiled egg with red chili), cabbage with green beans and a small mound of chopped green chili. The menu also lists serundeng, but as I seem to have accounted for everything on my plate, I’m not sure what this is.

The side dishes were too spicy for me, but then, I’m not good with spicy food. The chicken was tasty, and the rice and cucumber cooled my tongue from the rest. I wouldn’t be opposed to trying Pandok again. It may be catching on; although only one other table was filled at 1 p.m., a sign near the cash register proudly reads: “Now we open 7 days/week.”

After lunch I walked three storefronts up to O-Lime, one of the innumerable Pinkberry knockoffs, where I got a pomegranate frozen yogurt with strawberries and pineapple ($3.45). Very tasty.

Out of all these places, the one I’m likeliest to revisit is Lily’s Tacos. But I love that stolid La Verne has an Indonesian restaurant and a Korean frozen-yogurt place about 20 paces from each other.

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  • http://diversitown.blogspot.com meg

    I love all the little oddball ethnic places tucked away in the strip malls of our own dear Inland Empire, Westside.

    In addition to Pondok Salero and O-Lime, there is Caribbean Gardens (near PS & OL), Euro Cafe (Portuguese food) on Baseline near Vons, and KBBQ (Korean barbecue) on Holt.

    One of the things I love about all these places is that they are so danged nice. You don’t usually find that in LA, even in the tucked-away ethnic places that don’t get much traffic.

    [I need to try Caribbean Gardens (it was closed Thursday!) and KBBQ. And yes, some of these places really try to give you a nice experience, strip mall location be damned. It's endearing. -- DA]

  • Bob House

    Kind of on topic: did you see the nice review of 3 Forks at the Packinghouse in today’s (11-7) LA Times? Features some nice “meat porn” photos.

    [I did see that! I gotta get over there. Well, next time I want to spend $60 on dinner, anyway. -- DA]