• The striking colours of Padang food. (Salero Kito/Instagram)Source: Salero Kito/Instagram
This eatery is putting $11 Padang curries on your plates - you'll wonder how you ever lived without it.
Audrey Bourget

9 Apr 2019 - 12:12 PM  UPDATED 9 Apr 2019 - 2:27 PM

No matter how long you've lived in Melbourne, there are always treasures you won't have noticed down a laneway or through an arcade.

Salero Kito, a restaurant specialising in Indonesian Padang cuisine, is one these spots you wish you'd discovered earlier. Padang cuisine originates from the Indonesian province of West Sumatra but its deliciousness has taken it across the archipelago and over to Australia.

Three dishes and rice from the bain-marie menu: lamb brain, silver beet and crispy beef lung.

You'll recognise Padang restaurants by the myriad of plates - think beef rendang, chilli eggplant, curried fish, potato patties and sambal - stacked up behind shopfront windows or on tables. Australian regulations won't allow such stacking, so husband and wife owners, Afdal Utama and Tika Kartini, have adapted the visuals by placing curries in bain-marie behind glass.

Afdal Utama and Tika Kartini at their restaurant Salero Kito.

While some dishes, like the jackfruit curry and the corn fritters come and go, favourites like the chicken curry (gulai ayam) and the beef rendang are always on offer.  

Offal lovers will be in heaven with beef tendon, lamb brain curry and crispy beef lung. If you're new to offal and keen to try, Utama recommends starting with the crispy beef lung, which is like a salty meat cracker.

"Often it's just the concept [of offal] that scares people, but we make them try and they're like 'oh, it's just a cracker', so people like it and order it".

Another way to ease into offal is with Salero Kito's satay. "In Indonesia, you get different meats and cuts for satay, but here, our ox tongue satay got so popular that it's all we do now," says Utama.

Once you've made your selection, you'll be offered a fiery green sambal. Make sure to say yes. "The green sambal is the most popular back home. Sometimes, people come in just to buy that," says Utama.

Three dishes and rice from the bain-marie menu: tendon, spicy eggplant and crispy beef.

Most customers make a beeline for the bain-marie section but do check out the a la carte menu.

The oxtail soup (sop buntut) will warm you up on cooler days with its fragrant broth simmered with herbs and spices like star anise and clove. There's also soto padang, a hearty soup with beef broth, fried mashed potatoes, mung bean noodles and dendeng (crispy beef).

Soto Padang: Crispy beef, mashed fried potatoes and mung bean noodles in a beef soup.

Ayam pop is another Padang specialty. "It's like our version of the Hainanese chicken and rice. We boil the chicken first with special spices and we make sure it doesn't break. Then, we deep-fry it for 30 seconds and we serve it with rice, silverbeet curry and chilli," explains Utama.

The nasi goreng, Indonesian fried rice, is not specifically from West Sumatra, but at only $11, we understand why it's so popular among customers of whom many are students.

But it's not only students; Salero Kito Padang is full of office workers at lunchtime.

The chicken curry and beef rendang are still favourites, however people are becoming more open to trying different cuts of meat, says Utama. "They see it in other cuisines too. In Vietnamese cuisine, you often have tendon in pho and then you have lamb brain in Lebanese and Iranian cuisine," he says.

Ultimately, Utama says he wants people in Melbourne to enjoy the same dishes he relished in West Sumatra.

Salero Kito

Tivoli Arcade 18, 235-251 Bourke St, Melbourne
Monday – Saturday 11:30 am – 8:00 pm 
Sunday 11:30 am – 4:30 pm 

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