Rickshaw Republic specializes in authentic Indonesian street food. It's why the name alludes to the rickshaws street peddlers use to carry things around. Our initial thought on hearing that was ew, street peddlers are the worst, we don't want your $5 DVD of Battlefield Earth. But this is a pseudo street peddler we can get down with.
Rickshaw is unique because hardly anyone else around is doing authentic Indonesian food, and the Setiwan family who runs the place has the credential of being Indonesian to make this work. It's a real family affair too, with mom and one son in the kitchen and dad and the other son handling everything else. It's impressive they make it work, especially when I consider how my family would treat each other in a hot kitchen with a bunch of sharp knives. There have been no intentional injuries as far as we know, and they've managed to successfully share a bit of Indonesian food and culture straight out of Lincoln Park.
The restaurant may look generic from the outside, but one step in and it’s far from that. You’ll immediately be taken in by the artwork and colors on the walls and ceilings, and the intrigue will follow you to the menu. It's OK to be totally lost in what to order, you're not expected to be an Indonesian street food pro. That's why you should ask for recommendations and let the waitstaff guide you through a meal. Be adventurous, and ideally come for the rice table so you can try a lot of different things.
You're going to like Rickshaw Republic way more than the annoying street peddlers who sold your mom that knockoff purse.
Unless you’re trying to dine alone or with one another person, the rice table is absolutely the way to go. For $35, which is a great deal, you’re going to get entirely too much food and a chance to try a lot of different items. It’ll basically be Rickshaw’s greatest hits, including many of the items below.
The most addicting prawn puff crackers ever. They don’t taste like much, but have just enough prawn taste that we can’t stop eating them. It’s dangerous.
Spicy fried veggie fritters. Great batter and a satisfying veggie inside. Try not fill up on prawn crackers and fried veggie fritters because it’s easy to do.
Basic grilled chicken breast satays. Rather uneventful to be honest. Everything else is way better and more interesting.
Yellow coconut rice that’s got a seriously sweet coconut taste. Fantastic stuff.
Caramelized beef curry with spices. Excellent curry flavor and fall apart beef. Be generous with it over some rice.
More coconut, and it’s a good thing. This cold coconut salad is refreshing and flavorful in an otherwise heavy meal.
Decent at best braised pork belly. We wouldn’t order it on it’s own. Not enough flavor for us and it ultimately comes off as tasting too rich and fatty.
Pro tip - everything with coconut is delicious. Same goes for this kale and tempeh in a creamy coconut curry. Eating tempeh is acceptable in this instance because it’s a traditional Indonesian ingredient and not the product of a ridiculous diet trend.