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.
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.”