Kaki Lima Is Moving in with KO Pies Later This Month

The Indonesian pop-up shop is getting permanent on Mondays and Tuesdays in Eastie.

kaki lima ko pies

The Kaki Lima team during a pop-up event at KO Pies at the Shipyard. From left: Sous chef Nick Dynan, server Catrina Damrell, chef Retno Pratiwi, co-owner Peter Gelling, and server Jesse Kollins. / Photo provided

The longstanding relationship between Kaki Lima and KO Pies at the Shipyard just got more serious. Starting October 19 and running indefinitely, Boston’s Indonesian-street-food-catering couple will take over the Eastie kitchen every Monday and Tuesday, Kaki Lima announced today.

Chef Retno Pratiwi and her husband, Peter Gelling, have been sharing their fare in kitchens around Boston for about three years, and have been working toward opening their own restaurant for much of that time, Gelling said. East Boston residents themselves, Pratiwi and Gelling approached Sam Jackson about using his Shipyard kitchen to prepare for a catering gig a couple of years ago. Recurring Kaki Lima pop-ups followed, and it was the Australian proprietor who approached Kaki Lima about taking up residency.

“Sam’s been a huge supporter of ours. He’s become our mentor of sorts,” Gelling said. “I think it’s also cool it happens to be Australian, and Retno is Indonesian. There are a lot Australians in Indonesia and Indonesians in Australia; they’re right next to each other. There’s a lot of shared knowledge there. It kind of makes sense, in a weird way, to do an Indonesian restaurant at an Australian meat pie place in East Boston.”

KO Pies is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, so for KL@KO, as they’re calling it, Kaki Lima’s team will simply take over the kitchen. KO Pies’ beer and wine will be available, and the restaurant will be open during its usual hours of noon to 10 p.m. Service will be set up the same: Guests will order from the counter and seat themselves as they wait for their food.

But instead of meat pies and potato wedges, it’ll be somai and tempeh orek. 

“We’re still debating some final things [on the menu], but it will be a mix of classic Indonesian dishes. Everything is going to be served as shared plates with rice,” Gelling said.

Definitely expect somai, shrimp dumplings in a spicy peanut sauce; orek, cubed tempeh sauteed in sweet soy sauce with garlic, galangal, and other aromatics; and terong banda, charred eggplant in a macadamia, galangal, and coconut milk sauce.

Kaki Lima is still working toward opening its own place and is considering this indefinite residency as an educational experience.

“The restaurant is always on the horizon. We’ve been saying for years that it’s about a year away,” Gelling said. “We’ve had a lot of success with the pop-ups, but we’ve never sold any of our menu items to order, like a true restaurant atmosphere. We were wary of not having that experience before opening our own place. We had been on the lookout for an opportunity like this before Sam brought it up. It worked out.”

While operating out of KO Pies, Kaki Lima will have still be on the lookout for its own home, maybe in their own neighborhood. “We love East Boston. It’s an up-and-coming neighborhood, [and] there’s lots of diversity of food. But all options are on the table.”

KL @ KO, Mondays and Tuesdays, 5-9 p.m., 256 Marginal St., East Boston; 617-650-0696 or kakilimaboston.com.

UPDATE, Tuesday, December 15, noon: Kaki Lima has three more nights of service at KO Pies before the residency takes a hiatus. It will return Monday and Tuesdays in February.