The diverse flavors of Indonesia’s many islands can be savored at the markets, restaurants, and shops of New York City’s Little Indonesia in Elmhurst, Queens. Home to an Indonesian community that’s approximately 5,000, strong, the cultural enclave is located near Little Thailand and Little Manila. Many Indonesian immigrants came to New York following intense mass violence and inter-religious conflicts in the 1990s; the May 1998 riots across major cities led to the resignation of President Suharto and targeted ethnic Chinese Indonesians. In New York, the Indonesian population built a vibrant community in the most diverse borough. Here, we explore the delicious food establishments in Little Indonesia, from a popular food bazaar inside a church to New York’s smallest restaurant that operates just once a week.
1. NY Indonesian Food Bazaar
The NY Indonesian Food Bazaar is a once-per-month food event held at St. James Episcopal Church. One Saturday each month, the place of worship becomes a delicious center of Indonesian cuisine and culture rarely found in New York City. The bazaar features around eight vendors selling a mix of specialties from across Indonesia’s many islands. Most of the vendors don’t operate their own restaurants but some run catering businesses. Since starting in 2012, the bazaar has attracted a community of regular vendors and customers. The bazaar was founded by Fefe Anggono, a Chinese-Indonesian immigrant who runs a stall called Taste of Surabaya. She helped recruit cooks through the local community and social media, guiding them in applications for food vendors and fire safety permits.
Many of the vendors at the bazaar are halal, as Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation. Vendors serve up some of Indonesia’s most well-known dishes, including sate ayam (chicken skewers with sambal), beef rendang (a coconut stew), and nasi goreng (Indonesian fried rice). Popular dishes at the bazaar include ketan serundeng (sticky rice with coconut flakes), nasi uduk komplit (coconut rice with side dishes), gudeg jogja (jackfruit stew), and lontong (rice cake wrapped in banana leaves with proteins like squid). Vendors at the market include: