Sisters and co-owners Maylia (center) and Diana (right) Widjojo stand for a portrait with their mother, Ena, who originally opened their restaurant, Hardena, in South Philadelphia.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Sisters and co-owners Maylia (center) and Diana (right) Widjojo stand for a portrait with their mother, Ena, who originally opened their restaurant, Hardena, in South Philadelphia.

A treasure of Indonesian flavors packed in a box

Want a delicious master class in transforming a mundane pizza box into something magical?

Hardena chef Diana Widjojo has done exactly that with her Not Pizza sensation, a weekly Indonesian makeover for that familiar cardboard container into a treasure chest of family flavors served as a rijsttafel to go.

Out goes the pizza pie. In goes lush green banana leaves, topped with fluffy rice to anchor the feast. Then comes coconut-stewed collard greens and tempeh, stir-fried mie goreng noodles with tangy sambal oelek, crispy triangles of turmeric tofu, head-on shrimp, deeply spiced beef rendang, grilled saté chicken sticks glazed with peanut sauce, and even a whole fried butterfish, slashed for easy picking and crusted with coriander and turmeric.

It took the challenges of a pandemic, with its shuttered dining rooms, comfort food cravings, and new demands for innovative takeout, that ultimately sparked Widjojo’s idea for the Not Pizza (not coincidentally, while eating a pizza). And it’s been one of Philly’s most inspired — and coveted — strokes of creativity over the past six months.

Only about 35 of the $85 boxes, which feed four, are made available through Instagram each Monday. They’re usually all spoken for within moments.

Co-owner and chef Diana Widjojo prepares a "Not Pizza" box, a version of a rijsttafel meal, at Hardena in South Philadelphia.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Co-owner and chef Diana Widjojo prepares a "Not Pizza" box, a version of a rijsttafel meal, at Hardena in South Philadelphia.

The contents change weekly, but as many as 18 different dishes reflecting both spice-forward Sumatran flavors and the family’s sweet-and-savory Javanese roots are prepared by Diana, 34, sister, Maylia, 33, and their mom, Ena, who opened Hardena in 2000.

Every item has a personal history behind it. But together, they also reflect an evocative portrait of Indonesia’s rich cooking traditions on the rijsttafel, the multidish presentation that is a legacy of that country’s history as a Dutch colony. “The only good thing that came out of colonialism,” says Diana, “was the appreciation and love for our food.”

Hardena, 1754 S. Hicks St. #2217, 215-271-9442; hardenaphilly.com and on Instagram