>> [CLOSED] Warung Kario | Eat the World NYC

14 February 2009

[CLOSED] Warung Kario

SURINAME
INDONESIA

[UPDATE: NOW CLOSED - see Caribbean Suriname Restaurant]

It's still a 10-minute walk after you get off the last A train stop at Lefferts Boulevard, but what an enjoyable stroll with all the sights and smells of India's influence in the southern Caribbean. Past at least one Trini restaurant and a heap of Guyanese, my stomach is already talking loud enough to be heard. I am headed this day to a different, isolated taste in the south Caribbean, to a restaurant of Surinamese origin. There was a recent flurry of reviewing of this unique place (first in the NY Times, then by Sietsema), so I am sort of hopping the bandwagon down Liberty Avenue, but I cannot help myself.

Three doors down from a Hindu temple sits Warung Kario, a "Indonesian Surinamese" halal restaurant. After the Dutch in Suriname officially banned the importing of slaves from Africa, contract workers were brought in from the Indonesian island of Java, and many people from the country trace their heritage to here. Happily it also gave birth to a restaurant here in New York City.

I am the only diner at lunch on a Friday afternoon on this day, and get the attention of the owner/cook all to myself. She is happy to see me I think, and not surprised by my selection of saoto ($6, below), the soup I had read about in both recent articles. It takes a good five minutes to prepare in the back (everything else seemed visible on the steam table in the front), and is delivered still beautiful despite being on a plastic tray.


It comes accompanied by a dark brown sauce that looked harmless, so I take a good amount on a small spoon to taste it, and immediately feel the kick. The sauce is like nothing I have tasted before, both very spicy and tangy. As I scoop the rest in the bowl of soup, the owner warns me "That is spicy!" before offering me more if necessary.

The bowl is filled with shredded chicken, potatoes, sprouts, peppers, cilantro, onion, and a hard-boiled egg. The tastes are all very subtle, but together with the sauce the soup puts about as much flavor into your mouth as possible. Judging by only this, I will have to assemble a larger party soon to dive deeper into the menu here. By the time I finished my meal, only a couple of coworkers and another solo man had wandered in, hopefully not a sign of the lifespan of this fine restaurant.