~ A journal entry by Chef Nam ~
Whenever one thinks about travelling to Indonesia, the first thought that comes to mind is Bali and its breath-taking beaches. However, the capital city should not be neglected. The capital city of Indonesia is a beautiful chaos. With all its sights and smells, Jakarta is affectionately nicknamed as the big Durian. This is one of those cities that people either love or hate. If you are wondering what to do in Jakarta, just do what the locals do – skips the boring sights and eat, eat and eat! Trust me, you will do better elsewhere anywhere.
Contrary to what many frequent travelers to Jakarta might say to ‘get out of Jakarta as fast as you can”, I find Jakarta to be an interesting and eventful city – full of life, friendly people, diverse, and a near infinite amount of delicious cuisine. That is not to say Jakarta is hassle free. It has a fair share of problems and unbearable traffic jam, but if you are up for it, the city will reward you with some unforgettable meals and smiles.
For those who has a “Live to Eat” motto as something more than just adding fuel to the stomach, Jakarta is the right destination to discover.
The city may be crowded, loud and busy but it certainly is not boring. Besides being a multicultural cauldron, Jakarta is also a culinary melting pot that is home to a variety of cuisines from across the archipelago and beyond – from Sumatra, Sulawesi and East Indonesia to Japan, Korea, China, Dutch and Italy.
The best local foods to try in Jakarta are mostly comprised of the traditional cuisine of the “Betawi” people. The work “Betawi” refers to the people living in Jakarta during the colonial age. They are a rich creole mix, with Asian and European influences as well as hints from different Indonesia islands within the region such as Malay, Sumatran, Javanese, Balinese, Sulawesi and Ambon. Their diversity is captured in its food. This blend makes way to a distinct food culture, with dishes that range from spicy soups, rice, noodles to sweets and drinks. A variety of interesting and wonderful textures and flavours that are actually handed down over centuries and through generations.
I believe the Betawi restaurants plays an integral part of Jakarta’s culinary landscape. Street side and open-air eateries are often operated from tin-cladded stalls or a hole in a wall establishment – these are a common sight from the fifties till today.
Betawi specialities are widely available as they are sold by the ubiquitous street vendors. For those who are hesitant to try the food from the kaki lima carts, there are restaurants in Central and South Jakarta offering a wide variety of Betawi food.
Here are some of my Betawi eateries recommendations:
Nasi Campur Kenanga
Grand Wijaya Center, Blok F No.19
Jl.Wijaya II, Wijaya, Kebayoran Baru, Jakarta Selatan
Taman Sari gado-gado
Jl. Taman Sari Raya No.65, RT.12/RW.1, Kota Tua, Tamansari, Kota Jakarta Barat, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta
Baso AHA Senopati
Jl. Suryo, RT.8/RW.3, Selong, Kby. Baru, Kota Jakarta Selatan, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta
Soto Betawi H. Ma’ruf
Komplek Taman Ismail Marzuki Jl. Cikini Raya No.73, RT.8/RW.2, Cikini, Menteng, Kota Jakarta Pusat, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta
Soto Kaki Sapi Mencos H. Sarnadi
Jl. Percetakan Negara No.2C, RT.10/RW.8, Paseban, Senen, Kota Jakarta Pusat, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta
RM. Ayam Goreng H. Mardun Martinah
No., Jl. Raya Mangga Besar No.90A, RT.13/RW.1, Taman Sari, Jakarta Barat, Kota Jakarta Barat, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta
Warung Betawi H. Muhayar
Jl. Taman Margasatwa No. 18, Pasar Minggu, Jakarta