You know the drill when I visit countries renowned for their street food culture. I walk around the main sights, take a few quick pictures and quickly move on to the main event: food.
The same was, of course, on the cards for my two nights in Jakarta. After a long flight my plans for the first night were very simple: drop my bags, shower and head out for food. However, unlike many of the countries I’ve visited before, I was going into this one a little blind as I wasn’t really sure what Indonesian specialities were.
So, with through a combination of Google, Facebook and whatever took my fancy when wandering around. I’ve already written about eating cobra (yes, cobra!), so here’s a quick rundown of some other Indonesian street eats!
One of the few dishes I actually knew about beforehand, I decided to play it somewhat safe on the first night.
I ended up at the Menteng Wok Street Food centre which had been rated highly on Google. I was kind of hoping it would be similar to the Singaporean hawker centres that are all over the place in Chinatown but truth be told, this was a little too polished and chain-y for my liking. I’ve since learnt they are indeed a chain with a few branches dotted around the city.
There were a number of stalls offering chicken, satay and of course nasi goreng (fried rice) as well as desserts and drinks. The nasi goreng stall offered a number of different country-themed dishes with a twist on the original recipe.
It’s not often I’m swayed by pictures on a menu but I really didn’t know what to go for so I went with one of the Indonesian-themed dishes which had a picture of rice topped with fried egg. It doesn’t take much. Along with a glass of fresh melon juice this came in at a cool 65,000 rupiah (£3.38). A little more than standard street food.
Bugger me, it was spicy. That’s all I can say. I’ve never gone to a fried egg to cool my taste buds down.
With a rare craving for sweets on the way home I stopped off at a stand offering what looked like something in between a pancake and a sandwich. Heavy, in other words.
In an attempt to make it a bit healthier, I went for a banana filling only to be told they were out of them. Same went for strawberries, so in the end I went for peanut butter and chocolate. It’s the thought that counts.
It was an absolute taste sensation. A little big for one person, but thankfully it lasts and still tastes good cold the next day. An absolute steal for 25,000 (£1.30) rupiah.
When wandering around the monument on my one full day in Jakarta I spotted a hawker centre and suddenly got hungry. I’d say never miss an opportunity but, to be honest, there are more than enough opportunities to get a fill in Jakarta!
I didn’t need to think twice and quickly sat down at a stall with a bowl of soto ayam on the way – a traditional soup with noodles and shredded chicken.
It was tasty and light. I say this as a good thing because light food = more opportunities to eat later on! It was all going so well until…
Suppose you can’t complain at a bit of extra garnish! Again, paying 25,000 for this (plus extras!) made me realise how overpriced the first place had been.
One to thank Wikitravel for, as that site had drawn my attention to the ‘tennis ball sized’ meatballs that could be procured from street vendors. As soon as I saw them in Kota Tua I was sold. Thank god for that ‘light’ soto ayam earlier in the day!
It seemed that this particular stand offered three sizes of meatballs: small, medium and f*cking huge. Once again the pictures worked their magic as I was besotted with the idea of a soup with some small meatballs, topped off with one of those massive ones with a boiled egg in the middle.
Just look at the size of that! It was so good I didn’t want it to end. The good thing about soup-based dishes is that you never leave feeling overly full. Even if there is a massive meatball stuffed with a hard-boiled egg with it.
My mouth is watering just thinking about it. 30,000 (£1.56) rupiah well spent.
Just before I had to leave for the airport I decided to try out a ‘padang’ shop, which is where countless different dishes are plated up in the window for you to pick from.
It reminded me a little of Sri Lanka where you have your staple rice and veg on the plate and just choose your accompaniment. Quick and convenient, it seems to be a very popular option with locals and especially tradesmen in need of a quick feed.
Rendang is one of those dishes I’ve heard of but honestly couldn’t tell you what it was, but I’d been recommended it by the same mate who recommended cobra to me so I was a bit dubious to say the least!
Unlike the cobra, however, this was a very inoffensive and innocent chunk of beef in a sort of curry marinade. I was starving and it went down in record time, and it was delicious. What’s more, it only cost 15,000 rupiah (78p!!). If only I’d started eating at padangs earlier!