Indonesian chef and restaurateur Jimmy Sujanto saw a need and fed it — twice.
Within a year of opening his popular restaurant Padi in Berkeley’s Elmwood district, where aromas of spicy sambal, a condiment made from ground Thai chilies, waft along College Avenue, Sujanto has unveiled a second restaurant in San Leandro.
Open since October, the new location differs from the Elmwood restaurant both in menu (due to demand, Berkeley has more vegetarian options) and ambience (frankly, there isn’t much). But, it’s one of few places in Northern California to sample this sumptuous cuisine with its sweet stir-fries, heat-driven curries and, my favorite, savory soups. That makes it worthy of review.
But don’t go on a date night and then say I didn’t warn you — it’s so casual you can show up in your sweatpants.
The San Leandro restaurant is the headquarters of Sujanto’s busy catering business (he’s the guy for Indonesian weddings and operates 80 percent of the business from there), which is probably why it looks and feels more like an older diner or casual cafeteria than a new restaurant.