Jakarta, the very heart of Indonesia is the place where I grew up until I'm 15. Then comes boarding school and college here and there. But it's the place I called home and its food are still in my humble opinion the best. Ever heard of nostalgic eating? No? Okay you heard it from me. It basically means that the food we ate in our childhood are the best because food similar like smell are memories and childhood memories are etched deep inside our mind therefore the food will automatically be remembered as wonderful memories. Hey, you do know it. Remember the scene from Ratatouille, where Anton Egon being transferred to his childhood eating ratatouille. That's nostalgic eating. Okay enough of this nostalgic eating. Let me show you some of food in Jakarta.
Let me start with breakfast. Nasi ulam, it's basically steamed rice with some light coconut milk and spices topped with dried spiced shredded coconut (serundeng) accompanied with shredded chicken, deep fried spicy peanut and heap of thai basil. There're also some soupy sauces made with soy sauce and chicken stock. But I prefer my nasi ulam dry. So that I can eat each component by itself.
Another Betawinese speciality is nasi liwet. Here is my favourite nasi liwet from ikan bakar cianjur. It's steamed rice spiced with various herbs and topped with stir fried silver anchovies. The rice in the pot is steamed directly on fire and there're fragrant crust at the bottom of the pot.
We eat this nasi liwet with gurame fish, pecel lele and karedok. All betawinese food.
A famous Jakarta food chain restaurant is sate khas senayan. Like the name said it's famous for Satay. But they do have other stuffs on their menu such as tongseng, sup buntut and gurame pesmol. Surely there are better dishes like this out there but for a food chain in mall. Their Indonesian fare are exceptional. I was quite impressed.
I've mentioned in previous post, that Jakarta is a melting pot of various ethnics. Here're some examples. My dad came from a small island in the northest part of the country. A lot of Chinese immigrants from the province Hokkien stayed in this region. Hence the languages stayed and the food are also heavily influenced by our forefathers. This curry rice is one of the best example. Red braised pork and red braised hard boiled egg together with roasted pork are put on top of steamed rice and drenched with pork curry. Kalipeng. That's how they called this dish, which basically means curry rice. Honestly it's an acquired taste. The curry which are thickened with corn starch can be considered slimy. But we grow up with it so we define it as smooth and spices up the whole dish. This is my family nostalgic eating. This is our comfort food and we can rave and rave about this dish on and on.
This time I was lucky to be invited my aunt in-law to eat her hometown Singkawang noodle and snack called Choi pan. The noodle are richly topped with fish cake, meat balls, deep fried tofu and fish balls, pork and beef cuttle. On the side there're shredded "laos" in acid lake, which according to my aunt should be drizzled on top of the noodle. Different than all noodle that I know, it's an sour noodle. I must say it's an acquired taste, because it's porky greasy, sourish and has too much assorted toppings which imho rather than enhance the taste more like complicate the whole dish without giving this dish a main star. But like I said I don't grow up eating this dish whereas my cousins chow down this noodle in like seconds. Again remember my nostalgic eating. This is one good example.
While the noodle doesn't impress me much, I love the choi pan to death. I think it's due to the similarity with a dish from my dad's hometown called cai bao. Anyway back to choi pan. It's steamed dumpling filled with stir fried jicamas or garlic chives. I'm an hard core garlic chives fan but I must say the jicamas one are the superior one. Combined with spicy, sweetish, sourish chili sauce, I can easily chow down a whole plate. Unfortunately this one is for all of us to share.
Let's visit another ethnic group, this time it's Pontianak. It's a city in borneo island. Again the city is mostly populated by Chinese descendents. The Pontianakese are the best in making beef meat balls and Beef Kwetiau. Kwetiau is indonesian for flat rice noodles. My favourite is Kwetiau Bun Sapi, it's flat rice noodle stir fried till it got a wok hei and then drenched with eggy smooth sauce with various cuts from beef.
Let me close this post with the best dessert ever. The king of the fruit, the famous stinky fruit durian.
These are just a fragments of food that I ate in Jakarta. I just chose some which I think can represent what a chaos Jakarta can be. From different ethnicity to foreign influences. I haven't even started with all those mediocre Sushi, Korean wannabe, Paeudo Japanese, Singaporean Kopi Tiam or French Bakeries. I thought this time I keep it real and stay with original Indonesian food. Hope you enjoy my visit to Indonesia as much as I did back then.