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Review

Sydney McElwee

Hardena

Written by
Sydney McElwee

Imagine a graph that charts your dinner mood. On one axis is how much money you want to spend and on the other is your level of laziness. If your laziness is high and you’re willing to spend a lot, you might go out for a nice steak and some wine. If your laziness is low and you’re saving up for a box of Dunkaroos from 1994 that you found on Ebay last week, you might stay home and mess up a recipe that your coworker told you was foolproof. But if you’re feeling particularly lazy, and also have no money to spend, you should probably head over to Hardena, where your whole meal will be less than $10 and way better than the takeout you usually succumb to.

Hardena is a small Indonesian cafe in South Philly that you’ve probably walked by 12 times without realizing it. They serve a combination of mostly stewed dishes over rice that change daily and only have a few tables for dining in. No matter what you get here, it’s going to be really excellent, but the beef rendang is the first thing you should ask for. It’s braised and marinated in coconut milk to give it the perfect, tender texture and tons of flavor, and it’s almost always on the menu (unless you go too late at night and it’s sold out). The collard greens are another one of our favorites, but beyond that, just ask the staff for their favorites and you won’t go wrong. In total, you’ll pay less than the cost of the Uber you took to get here, and you can either sit down for the 15 minutes it will take you to eat your food or take it home to eat while you cram for an 8am presentation the next morning.

So if you’re dealing with one of those dinner situations where you think your only options are delivery pizza or ramen that will likely have soaked through the bag and made everything else sticky by the time it gets to you, just know that you have Hardena. Now go draw up that chart and hang it on your fridge before you forget the rules.

Food Rundown

Beef Rendang

Braised, caramelized beef in coconut milk. This is the first thing you should always order here.

Sayur Singkong

The menu here varies from day to day, but you can pretty much always get these collard greens. Despite how plain they look, they’re packed with a ton of flavor. A perfect accompaniment to whatever else you have on your plate.

Sayur Lodeh

The vegetable stew is somewhat sweeter than the other options here, and it has things like carrots, tofu, and chayote in it.

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