Some people say home is where your mom is at. I’d say home is where you like the food the most. I came home after living in Los Angeles for a year, with a prepared list of all food and restaurants I have to eat when I go back to Jakarta, Indonesia. I was a bit upset when I realized that I haven’t even finished half of the list!! These pictures are taken with phone, so it might not be at its maximum quality. Yet, the taste remains…
#1 Wongsan/Lindung Cah Fumak (Deep Fried Eel Cooked with Fermented Rice Wine)
The best place offering this dish is Restaurant Angke. How should I say this, it’s my number one favorite food. The eel is so crispy but still moist and soft. The sauce from fermented rice wine has perfect acidity to sweetness balance, combined with strong scents of garlic making it unbeatable.
#2 Shantung Kuo Tie (Guo Tie/Fried Dumplings)*
I know you’d say what’s so special about fried dumplings, right. Here’s one reason why: The specific way you eat them in Indonesia. Every Shantung Kuotie place provides fresh minced garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, chili sauce, chili paste and vinegar. You would mix them together to taste as dipping. The dumplings are made fresh and fried to your taste. Usually they fried one side so the other side is still moist, but for extra crunch you can ask them to fry both side. FYI, they don’t just pan-fry or deep fry it. There’s a special pan for this dumpling and a specific way to cook it. My favorite place is Pondok Shantung.
#3 Kerang Hijau Saos Padang (Green Mussels Cooked in Padang Sauce)
Green Mussels in Indonesia are fresh! Always eat seafood where you can choose your own raw seafood by yourself then choose how you want them cooked. My favorite place is Bandar Jakarta in Ancol. I’m not mussels or clams fan, but this green mussels when cooked in this sauce is unbelievable. It’s spicy, you can sip the sauce from the shell, and the mussels are perfectly soft and juicy without any fishy scent.
#4 Kepiting Saos Singapore (Crab Cooked in Singapore Sauce)
A very tight margin with green mussels is this crab, also from Bandar Jakarta. The sauce is very similar to Padang sauce, just slightly thicker and sweeter although still very spicy. The crab is easy to open, with tender and juicy fresh crab meat. Yes, the crab are fresh and you can choose whether you want a female with eggs 😉
#5 Suikiaw Aseng (Dumpling Soup)*
Trust me it’s no regular dumplings. It’s somehow crunchy on the inside because they use jicama among your regular dumpling veggies. You can taste the sweetness from all fresh ingredients they’re using, although you may not believe they’re fresh after seeing the place. It’s only a small tent in the corner of small alley called Bakmi Aseng, not neat at all but I guarantee their food is clean indeed. The Suikiaw is usually ordered as side to their chicken noodle, which is also amazing.
#6 Ayam Suharti (Suharti Fried Chicken)
It won’t be your regular fast food fried chicken, because it is no fast food. They use small succulent chicken, cooked until tender til you can break the bones apart. The skin is also thin and crispy but soft because they use young and natural-raised chicken. What makes it special is the Kremes, which is actually the chicken batter. You won’t believe your taste bud how awesome chicken batter can taste like. Only at Ny. Suharti, though.
#7 Bakmi Special GM (GM Special Noodle)
Bakmi GM (Gajah Mada) was established in 1959 and has one of the best noodle in Indonesia, with mushroom and chicken in sweet sauce. The noodle is one of the softest noodle you’ll ever find, although some people like a more chewy noodle (my fav chewy noodle is Bakmi Aseng, see #5). The chicken and mushroom are always perfectly marinated and immersed well in the sauce, so the whole dish is well balanced when you mix everything in the noodle.
#8 Pangsit Goreng Bakmi GM (GM Noodle Fried Wonton)
Always order the fried wonton with the GM Special Noodle. It’s heavenly. You get the sweetness and savory from the noodle, and get acidity and crunch from the wonton sauce. No one makes better wonton sauce. The meat inside the wonton itself is moist, always perfect. The wonton is always perfectly crunchy and tasty.
# 9 Tahu Kipas (Fan Tofu)
I don’t know why they call it that, while it’s actually a deep fried tofu with shrimp and veggies filling. The best place offering this dish is Pandan Bistro. Their fan tofu tastes very bold and crispy, but the shrimp is always perfectly cooked, tender and perfectly seasoned while the shrimp itself is still sweet, thus you know it’s fresh!
#10 Bakmi Abadi (Abadi Noodle)
Contrary to Bakmi GM, no noodle can ever be chewier than this one. Bakmi Abadi is a small family restaurant, and like Bakmi Aseng, they make their own noodles. What’s unique about this noodle other than its trademark noodle texture is that they use sliced boiled chicken. I’d mix the noodle with provided chili-vinegar paste because they basically only use pork fat oil, salt, pepper and MSG for the noodle seasoning. Yes, MSG is almost always used in every noodle place in Jakarta, especially the best one you taste on the streets. One bowl won’t kill ya!
#11 Nasi Medan (Medan Mixed Rice)*
This is what most Indonesian street food looks like, but this one is Nasi Uduk Medan. They have trays filled with variety of meat, fish, veggies, and you will choose what you want and they’ll put everything together with ‘uduk’ rice (rice cooked in coconut milk). This particular dish comes from Medan, where they use pork and lots of chili (compared to Javanese originated similar food where it’s usually sweet). The most famous sides are thinly sliced fried potato, anchovies and nuts, all cooked again in sweet chili sauce. Rice vermicelli adds variety to rice, and some type of spice and nut powder is sprinkled for texture.
#12 Nasi Kalong (Bat Rice)
They call it Nasi Kalong maybe because they opened from 7pm to 3am. They cooked the rice in Kluwak, resulting a unique color, texture and taste no other rice can do. They served foods on trays, you choose what you want along with rice, as much as you want. They will count the price at the end of the line. I love the rice and the honey chicken, which is crunchy, sweet and tender. They served few different kind of chili paste, and they are GOOD! One of a kind 😉
Serabi is Indonesian version of pancake made of rice flour and coconut milk. The problem is there many different types of Serabi and most people are often confused because the texture can be varied greatly. Some thin and crispy, some thick and savory. My favorite is the thin one, plain sweet or with chocolate. This one was ordered at small stall in front of Warung Tekko, and by far my favorite. It’s thinly crunchy but the middle part is awesomely soft, juicy from the milk, sweet, and oh just heavenly.
#14 J.Co Donuts
They have the best donuts in the whole world. Unlike american doughnuts, J.Co donuts are super soft and not overly sweet. The favorites are tiramisu, avocado, green tea, coco loco, oreo. My favorite is the green one surrounded by chocolate, which is the avocado topping with cream fillings. Their cream fillings are the best, soft and fluffy, melts in your mouth and again, not overly sweet. Every thing, every single bite, is just perfect balance.
#15 Kinca Duren (Durian Kinca)
I was about to say puree, but you don’t put durian on blender, neither paste because it’s not that. What it actually is is durian fruits, separated from the seed and cooked in water and brown sugar, along with the seed. My mom makes this when we have over-ripen durians, and we’d eat them with bread loafs. We don’t spread it on the loafs, but we dip the loafs in the Kinca, because its texture is kind of like a thick soup. Hot or cold is your choice, but yes you can still smell the strong durian scents.
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