When a restaurant is putting the face of the owner as its public image, it’s only natural think that there’s a notable persona who was or has been contributing immensely for its current stature right now – legendary or not.
At times it might be just a marketing gimmick, as such in the case of nowadays snacks or small businesses. But when we are talking about Soto Ayam Ambengan Pak Sadi – there’s more to it than just a face.
Pak Sadi and his famous soto restaurant are two things inseparable. His establishment is the embodiment of Pak Sadi’s hard work through the ups and downs of his life since the adolescent days more than 50 years ago. Born in the vicinity of the small town of Lamongan, he was already taught to cook the town’s specialty soto and East Javanese’s pride – tahu tek-tek.
Like what happens in many parts this country for years now, the citizens of rural Indonesia have always been attracted to live in big cities. Once arrived, many of them saw their dreams shattered once realizing how tough it is living in a metropolis, but some persevere and made it to the top like Pak Sadi.
If several issues ago we have the story about how Pak Misjaya jumped off the train to seek his fortune in Jakarta with only the clothes he was wearing that day and now that he runs a very successful nasi ulam business, Pak Sadi started it less radically than that thanks to his cooking skill.
But it is not without a lot of hardship.
“There was a time when I was forced to relocate and that people were simply not interested with my food. I don’t know where else to go but I was glad to have a generous friend who asked me to stay at his place and set up my business again there”, reminisces Pak Sadi.
After some time standing on his feet again, he finally started fresh with a humble vendor on Jalan Ambengan. Finally after several years, Pak Sadi had his breakthrough moment of success when he eventually can afford his own house there and the street became known nationwide as a branding name for anyone who want to start their soto Lamongan business.
“Quite some time ago, I tried to get the “Ambengan” name patented but I was denied since I cannot use the name of a public street for my soto. That’s why I put my name and the word asli for the restaurant to differentiate it”, says Pak Sadi.
From his modest beginning at Jalan Ambengan, Pak Sadi has since expanded his empire to several cities all over Indonesia with his strongest bases at Jakarta and Surabaya. “My first ever outlet in Jakarta is here at Jalan Wolter Monginsidi. We moved around for several times but this time I suppose we have become permanent”, shares Pak Sadi.
Now, as a grandfather of eleven, Pak Sadi is enjoying his retirement days and travel between Jakarta and Surabaya a couple of times in a month. He is now delegating the business to his children who are actually making his traditional business more colorful.
“My son Hartono is brimming with ideas. He opens Soto Pak Sadi outlets in shopping malls and expands it beyond the borders I knew back then”, he says. It is no wonder now that we can now find more traditional street food at Pak Sadi’s Wolter Monginsidi outlet. It was all because of his children’s initiatives.
Pak Sadi himself is true to his words when he’s talking about his soto recipe. In his restaurant, you will find yourself facing a generous serving of soto ayam Lamongan with complete offering from ayam kampung, half of hard-boiled egg, vermicelli, and optionally with a lot of koya made from real prawn crackers.
Indeed, there’s more to it than just Pak Sadi’s face on the billboards or the plates used at his restaurants. Pak Sadi started it seriously and now his restaurant is known as the true name behind any soto Ambengan you can see around – on par with other top soto from all over Indonesia.
That alone is already a huge contribution of this country’s massive culinary legacy and his heritage continues still thanks to a great family teamwork, very much likely until far in the future.
SOTO AYAM AMBENGAN PAK SADI (ASLI)
Some dishes are suitable for vegetarians
Jalan Wolter Monginsidi no. 28, Jakarta – Indonesia
Opens at other places as well in Jakarta & Surabaya
Featured in THE FOODIE MAGAZINE Oct 2015 edition
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