Early Sunday morning, the owners of East Portland Indonesian restaurant Wajan woke up to shocking news: Something had crashed into the restaurant's popular sprawling patio, splintering its bamboo fence and knocking out at least one support beam to the wood pergola.
"Disbelief... shocked... speechless... what a nightmare!!!" Wajan chef/owner Feny Lim wrote on the restaurant's social media, before adding, "Wajanpdx is still open today...."
While not many details about the accident are known at this time, Lim told the Mercury: "As far as we know—from our next-door neighbor and a police officer that contacted us—it happened around 1:30-1:40 am on Sunday. A Jeep was on the run from the police and ended up smashing through our front patio structures." Lim said she had heard the car was abandoned a short distance from the restaurant while the occupants tried to escape into the neighborhoods.
A Portland Police Bureau spokesperson confirmed both the high speed chase and crash, noting that they were able to follow with the Air Unit, even as the occupants fled on foot. Two were arrested. Officers learned the car was stolen and it was towed.
Wajan opened as usual on Sunday, then closed for Monday and Tuesday—its normal off days. Customers couldn't sit on the front patio due to the damage, but there were unaffected areas on the tree-lined side. Lim says the back covered patio that Wajan uses during winter time was also open, as was indoor dining.
Wajan's bustling outdoor patio—erected during the pandemic—contrasts it's cozy, frequently-empty indoor tables. Granted, outdoor eating is a refuge for the COVID-concious, but at Wajan it's also just deeply pleasant. The Mercury profiled Wajan in 2019 with another Indonesian restaurant that opened around the same time, Gado Gado.
"At Wajan, chef/owner Feny Lim hews more traditional, with a rundown of classics done right," food critic Andrea Damewood wrote. "The nasi campur is an Indonesian answer to a Middle Eastern mezze, with shareable servings of curried jackfruit with green beans, crispy fried tempeh, spicy hard-boiled egg and eggplant, and a giant puffy rice cracker standing tall like a sail over the plate."
Lim's recipes are still a blessing to our city and although not every dish at Wajan is hot-spicy, most are spiced enough to take your tastebuds on a journey. These days, I'm all about the bakmie noodles with pork, shiitake mushrooms, and savory chicken broth served on the side. The unassuming noodle bowl packs a lot of flavor and—since I also can't overlook their next-level-rich satay ayam—there's generally enough for lunch the next day.
Spice-fanciers, don't overlook their invigorating tonics—served thick, warm, and delicious in a short glass. The bandrek medan wedang jahe with cardamom and pepper is my favorite, but kunyit asam with ginger, tumeric, and tamarind is a close second. I don't know if it's healthy, but it certainly makes me happy.
Asked what customers could do to support the restaurant, Lim said Wajan is taking a week off from making its kotak jajanan pasar snack box, but will resume selling them in September.
"We feel very fortunate with the continued support that the community has given to us since day one," Lim said. "We're happy to be able to keep cooking Indonesian food here in Portland. Please keep coming and enjoying Indonesian food at Wajan."
Wajan is located at 4611 E Burnside, Wed & Thurs 12-2:30 pm, 4-8:30 pm; Fri-Sun 12-8:30 pm