Melbourne is on an undeniable, unstoppable sandwich streak. We’ve seen a recent influx of new sangas and sanga shops, but so far there’s been nothing like this.

At Warkop – on a Richmond backstreet only 500 metres from the suburb’s reigning sandwich king, Hector’s Deli – a former Navi sous chef is putting Indonesian flavours front and centre.

“During lockdown, we were doing takeaway [at Navi],” says Warkop co-owner Barry Susanto. “Every day I’d make all these different sandwiches for staff meals with Indonesian stuff, and the feedback was really good so eventually we decided, why not?”

He met business partner Erwin Chandra when they’d both just arrived in Australia from Indonesia 11 years ago, and the two have been planning to open their own venue championing the flavours of home ever since.

The star of the menu is the chicken taliwang sandwich, inspired by a charry regional specialty Susanto tried on his travels to Lombok. “It was a bit too spicy for me, but it was so good. I had it every day when I was there.”

The Warkop version is milder, but the chicken still packs a punch thanks to a marinade of aromatic sand ginger, lemongrass, shallots, garlic and shrimp paste. It comes with cheese, tomato and rocket between two slices of organic Zeally Bay Sourdough from Torquay.

There’s also sticky pork belly (sliced ham-thin) with lemongrass and kaffir lime on multigrain; beef pastrami with pickles, cheese and coconutty rendang sauce on light rye; and a vegetarian number with tofu, tempeh and gado gado (Indonesian salad) with peanut sauce, in a cross between a Turkish roll and focaccia. Plus, a punchy smoked-salmon bagel with alfalfa, salmon roe, green chilli and tartare sauce.

For breakfast (or dessert), grab the kaya toast with lashings of custard-like coconut jam on soft grilled brioche. It’s made to a recipe by Chandra’s mum, who usually toasted the bread on charcoal; here they instead mix rice puffs into the jam for added crunch.

The pastries in the display cabinet are from Ned’s Bake, and despite the sachets of Indonesian instant coffee hanging down a curved shelf, the brews are made with beans from Dukes.

The Kapal Api-branded sachets are a nod to warung kopi, the small roadside cafes ubiquitous in Indonesia. It’s where the name Warkop comes from. “All the instant coffee’s just hanging there, you grab some with instant noodles and just hang out with your friends. It’s cheap, you leave and you come back the next day, every day,” Susanto says.

The cafe is cosy and warm, with wooden bricks along accent walls and simple black shades across the rest of the space. Much of the fit-out was inherited from the previous business, though the timber tables, orange steel stools and espresso machine are all new.

Warkop
12 Risley Street, Richmond
(03) 9939 9678

Hours:
Mon to Fri 7am–3pm

warkop.com.au