Sunday, July 20, 2014

Review: Legianz Waroeng Indonesia

It feels like some vibrant and refreshing areas have sprung up in Auckland in virtually no time. I suppose no one used to go to where Britomart or Wynyard Quarter are now, so their transformations were suddenly impressive. The renovation of Victoria Park Market, on the other hand, has been dragging on for years.

Peering through a window into Victoria Park Market, December 2012.

A newspaper article in 2010 reported that the new market would "include Mexican eatery the Flying Burrito Brothers, an Argentinian steak house, a New York-style tapas bar and a Japanese restaurant. A German brewery is also interested." None of these seem to be there yet, unless you count La Zeppa and Matsu Sushi. But then it also claimed, optimistically, that "the $25 million redevelopment will take nine months and could begin next month." In October 2011, the market was apparently "about to open". Nearly two years later, another article in May 2013 said that "The massive $20 million redevelopment of Victoria Park Market is all but complete." So it is just a little surprising that when you walk through the complex now, it still looks like half the shops are empty, even though it is technically more than 80% tenanted. Yet another article in October 2013 noted the "$28 million refurbishment began in 2008" and blames heritage issues for delayed construction. There were also apparently plans "under way to open up a European-style market by the end of November." Well, I haven't heard anything more about that either.

Deserted and papered up shopfronts, May 2014.

That's not to say there has been no progress. The restaurants bordering Drake Street opened early on, while work was still being done within the bowels of the market. Atico Cocina opened in late 2011, The Oakroom in May 2012, and Libertine in June 2012. Then the restaurants on the other side appeared on Victoria Street West: Buttermilk Cafe in November 2012, Mozaik Cafe in December 2012, iVillage at Victoria in June 2013, and Flavour Pitalicious in September 2013. Though people may not have noticed, shops were opening within the market too, as early as December 2012 with the Casa del Gelato ice cream store and some non-food retailers. Matsu Sushi opened in March 2013 in the Western courtyard, Tom Tom Bar and Eatery opened in September 2013, Espresso Corner in December 2013, Salash Delicatessen in January 2014, and more recently, Waroeng Legianz in March, and Viet Flames in June.

Busy lunch hour.

Although most of the market is pretty devoid of customers, there is one place that stands out. Tucked away in a corner, Waroeng Legianz (now branded Legianz Waroeng Indonesia) is a small Indonesian restaurant that is always full at lunchtimes. As a video from the Taste of Indonesia festival shows, this eatery has the support of many members of Indonesian community. Within a few months of opening, it has tidied up its image: photocopied A4 menus have been replaced by professionally printed ones, the old green logo with italic writing changed to a cleaner orange one, and the restaurant has also started opening for dinner.

New menu.

You can almost find the place by following your nose. The outdoor seating area smells more of delicious food than actually inside the restaurant, because that is where the extraction fan vents. I am not sure whether this is a marketing ploy or not, but it certainly works, unless something goes wrong in the kitchen and you are surrounded by smoke instead.

The friendly staff members bring water over without asking, and are more careful now too. Previously, when you ordered a vegetarian dish, you might have ended up with prawn crackers. Now they make sure to check if you are happy with fish oil and egg, and state on the menu that the crackers are onion crackers.

Large blackboard outside.

The menu is varied, and divided into a number of sections: rice, noodles, specialties, vegetarian and desserts.


I was surprised to see I hadn't actually tried a rice dish from here yet. A friend who ordered the nasi goreng kambing (lamb fried rice) enjoyed it very much, though he ate it without accompaniments, as the green chilli sauce was potently spicy and he didn't care for the bitternut crackers.

Nasi goreng kambing (lamb fried rice) with sate ayam (chicken satay) in the background.


I love the fried noodle dishes because they are freshly cooked, with just the right amount of moisture and plenty of flavour. Served with pickled vegetables and a bit of chilli paste so you can adjust to your liking, these dishes are tasty and filling.

Bihun goreng (fried rice vermicelli noodles).

Mie goreng (fried noodles).
As with the fried noodles, the laksa is another dish that is pretty similar to what you would find in a Malaysian restaurant.

The cwi mie, on the other hand, was something I had not seen before. Served with a thin broth and a mix of sauces, this involved chicken mince, beef balls and a fried wonton on a bed of noodles.

Cwi mie.


Apart from the satay skewers and the lamb curry, most of the dishes in the specialties section involve a variety of things on the plate: a bit of meat, a bit of vegies (urap is the name for the steamed vegetables in coconut sauce), rice, and sometimes fried potato cake and a boiled egg. These meals can be really interesting and delicious, but sometimes the food is not heated as much as you might expect, and occasionally an item will be forgotten - a potato cake or an egg might be left off by mistake, or the little dish of chilli paste goes missing.

Nasi rendang.

Nasi kuning ("yellow rice") - coconut rice, beef in Balinese sauce, fried anchovies and peanuts, potato cake, urap, egg.

In this case, we got an extra egg with the nasi campur legianz.


There are plenty of vegetarian options available too. The mie goreng and bihun goreng pictures I put under the "Noodles" heading above were actually vegetarian versions of the dishes. There are a couple of uniquely vegetarian meals as well.

The gado gado is extremely filling as salads go, with diced potato, fried tofu and tempeh (fermented soybean cake) added to the lettuce, silverbeet, carrot and mung bean sprouts, all covered in a heavy peanut sauce. Oh, and it is served with egg and fried crackers too.

Gado gado.

The tahu telor is a tofu omelette, this time with rice vermicelli noodles as well as the potato, lettuce, sprouts and peanut sauce.

Tahu telor.
They really look after the vegetarians here - good flavours and no chance of going hungry at all.

Overall, my friends and I have been impressed with the quality and variety of the dishes at Waroeng Legianz, and they are at almost food court prices too. Definitely looking forward to returning to try more.

Panda Recommends

For something hot, simple and delicious, try the mie goreng ($12 - 13) or laksa ($14). For a meal with lots of different flavours, go for the specialties like nasi kuning or nasi campur legianz ($14.50).
Avoid the mie capcay (note the "c" is pronounced soft like "ch" rather than hard like "k"), which is not so much bad as just a little boring.

Vegie Pandas
There is no such thing as a light salad here. The tahu telor ($13) is an unusual dish worth trying, but what I have actually enjoyed the most were the simple fried noodles. [Added 16 October 2014: Unfortunately, tahu telor is no longer on the revised menu.]

[Added 29 April 2015: the prices have been revised, with the dishes from specialties section increasing to $16, for instance.]

Takeaway menu - page 1
Takeaway menu - page 2

Restaurant Details

Legianz Waroeng Indonesia
25/210-218 Victoria Street West, Auckland Central
(09) 379 5058

Opening hours [updated 3 August 2014]:
Mondays to Fridays 11am - 4pm (winter) / 7pm (summer)
Saturdays 11am - 3pm
Sundays closed

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