Every time people ask me what's interesting to enjoy in Jakarta, I usually say, enjoy the traffic jam (sarcastically) and (also) have a bite of local food. And of course, when they go a bit deeper about what kind of food they should try, I would recommend jajanan kota para pedagang kaki lima
(snacks from street-side sellers) that exists in every corner of the city. That itself is an experience.
Have cart, will sell food
Pedagang kaki lima
is a large part of our food culture in Indonesia where the seller uses gerobak
to ply their food trade. Gerobak
is a movable wooden box which contains a hot stove, complete with mini table and chairs in case the consumer wants to eat by the side of the road. It Continue reading »
After 3 months of campaign, countless designs, write-ups videos and not to mention running around, planning, crawls and a few melt-downs, our LOVE your Street Food campaign came to an excellent close. And what better way to do it than with a food party! Little paper hearts professing street food ardour
Wau Penyu was the venue and we decked everything in shades of purple, pink and yellow. We even got a purple carpet! We made great gifts, car stickers, badges and limited edition pagoda tee stamped with our gorgeous psychedelic heart. Our paper bag gifts waiting for a good home
We… Continue reading »
"Salty, pink ribbons of goodness..."
Established in 2005, El Cerdo is the place one goes to for all things porcine. Owner Werner Kuhn and executive chef David Caral really showcase their love for this versatile meat by going to great lengths themselves in their tantalizing menu. Sourcing most of their meat from Europe, it appears in many incarnations by way of cold cut platters, pastas, sausages, and their robust mains section. In fact, it was so pork-filled that one can’t help but sillily expect it to be on their dessert menu as well (it isn’t). I’ve always loved El Cerdo, having been here for my birthday earlier this year. I had their infamous roasted suckling pig then, of which they go through at least 100 a week.
The restaurant itself is dimly lit, with many knick-knacks and artwork of the curly-tailed animal. It is cozy and welcoming, which is probably why everyone from Japanese businessmen to large families to romantic couples are there with wide smiles. I look around the restaurant and hear “Happy Birthday” being sung at another table, the first of many that night. I am told later that their record is 23 birthdays in 2 hours!
In a moment, the complimentary soup arrives. Mushroom soup served in little cups with chunky bits of ham that give it just that little savoury something. The basket of crusty bread with peppers that is on standby throughout the night is tasty, but is unfortunately a touch cold. Dishes from their tapas menu arrive soon after: bombas, pincho moruno and Serrano and Iberico ham. The bombas are mashed potato balls filled with pork and deep fried with a wonderfully crispy crust. The dollop of tomato cream and aioli on top is a tangy tasty touch. Pincho moruno, or grilled pork on skewers, is served with a not-too-spicy oil. Chewy and tender at the same time, the flavor of the meat really shines in this simple offering.
Then it is time for ham. Oh, ham. Sweet, salty, fatty slivers of Serrano and Iberico ham served on tomato bread. The Serrano is a little subtle in taste and texture, having just the right amount of salty kick. The Iberico, my favorite ham, is literally brilliant, fat glistening under the lights. From the slight bite of the ham to melt-in-the-mouth fat, I would have been happy with just that the entire night.
But oh, there are mains on the way! The marinated pork shoulder steak is my dinner companion’s favorite dish of the night. Served with a chunky mashed potato and mild mustard, it is topped with fried finely julienned leeks, paprika dusting the rim of the plate. Getting a bit of everything in one bite, I see why she loves the dish: the interaction of all the different textures is great, and the steak is grilled just right. Oven roasted Iberico spare ribs is served next with pineapple salsa in roman tomato cups. The marinade melds with the fat as it is roasted, which gives it a sensational crust. The spicy-savoriness of it goes well with the sweet pineapple salsa. Finger bowls are given to us during this course and we happily oblige and dive in, licking our fingers now and then.
"Budu, cili padi, lime and tempoyak- phworr!"
The Terengganuphile club meets weekly at Meka- a famous artist, a Langkasuka enthusiast and a social ecologist. They work their way through the meal, crisply fried ayam kampung, a mountain of sotong goreng, masak lemak with rambai skin (because that’s in season at the moment) and of course budu- the appetite whetter of the East coast. As they eat, they talk about the changes to Pulau Kambing, the finer points of taking a wooden house apart and putting it back together and where the best laksam is.
I was just happy to be part of the conversation. A Terengganu enthusiast myself, Meka has always been a must-stop for enjoying Terengganu cooking at it’s best. The owner himself goes to Pulau Kambing (where fishermen dock with their daily catch) every morning to grab fresh fish. By 7am the cooking and sizzling will start.
This is where you can feast on wonderful local fish from catfish and tongkol to kerisi and kembung. Also on offer are stunningly fat fish roes, laying like fat sausages on the plate- a melange of chewy and crispy richness. Gravies here don’t overpower mostly hanging out at the gulai spectrum of gravy chain and the sambal belacan is mellow with ulams like daun jambu golok (cashew nut leaves), daum salam and jering. The owner, Haji Awang comes often, talking to his customers, pouring them drinks and bringing more food to the table. It’s a laidback affair, help yourself from the counter, grab a chair and tuck in.
A server brings a new batch of ayam kampung still sizzling from their oil bath. You can’t just eat one or two thighs here, at least four will travel down your gullet before you know it. The seafood in Terengganu is forever fresh, the fried squid is cut into rings, just lightly seasoned before fried or grilled. You don’t need much embellishment with seafood this fresh.
"The fried rice is so good!"
“You have to try the fried rice here, that is one of the reasons I come back time and time again. It’s soooooo good!” my colleague urged as I asked for her recommendations. So fried rice it was. We decided to order two types, the Thai fried rice with petai and the sambal belacan fried rice with beef. To go along with our two rice dishes we also got the spicy fried chicken, otak otak, and spicy long beans.
The ambience at Aunty Nat exudes effortless comfort. The contrast of wooden furniture, marble top tables, and modern photo frames adorning the walls with black and white pictures of seniors and children give the place a certain charm. One that invites you to sit and linger over your meal as the swanky jazz tunes are piped in overhead.
While waiting for the food to arrive I sipped on a cold refreshing kedondong with assam boi. The raw grassiness of the kendondong goes well with the sweet sour of the assam boi, making it a delicious drink to indulge in on a hot day.
The first to arrive was the otak otak, and I immediately see that it is darker than most I’ve had and more firm in texture. I can feel the spiciness touch my tongue upon the first bite. It is very strong in flavour and has prawns within it adding a chewy texture within the smooth custard.
"The vegetarians won me over!"
Let it be known that I love vegetables but I AM NOT a vegetarian. Not a fan of mock meats or gluten, nor do I enjoy nibbling on rabbit food or cardboard flavoured with copious amounts of artificial seasoning. As for vegetarian restaurants, rarely have I patronized a vegetarian establishment more than once because I usually end up hungry AND thirsty after 2 hours. Even my husband avoids it by choice, especially when we have been carnivores all our lives. What can I say, old habits die hard.
Chef Low Organic Kitchen changed my mindset altogether. Its delicious vegetarian/organic dishes scored high on taste and nutrition, with lip smacking dishes which kept us full and satiated. As it is so tasty, we even willingly embraced its meat-free mantra with gusto, even if it’s just for that visit. The portions here are pretty huge so you can share. Another note of advice, come during the week as it is packed to the brim during weekends and it takes a while for your order to arrive. In the meantime, the boss is in the midst of expanding his business to the next shoplot to accommodate his growing clientele.
First and foremost, their signature Fruit Tea is a must. It comes in a pot filled with fresh apples, pears and orange slices swimming in a warm tea+juice combo, along with 2 small shot glasses. One sip and your tummy feels all warm and fuzzy with that fruity goodness. Feel free to eat the fruit slices for extra fibre.
For starters, we tried their Crystal Jade Roll which looked like delectable sushi rolls in a light batter. It’s actually beancurd skin stuffed with vege goodies, wrapped in seaweed and deep-fried to a nice crisp. The accompanying sweet lemon/orange sauce really complements the flavor of the roll. Perfect for popping into the mouth, we polished it in no time.
The Thai Fried vermicelli arrived as one mountain of a plate! Fresh julienned vegetables were piled on top of the noodles so it took us a while to come to grips with the portion. It tasted nothing like the pad thai I had in mind, but it had a really nice twist to it. Surprisingly, the fried noodles did not taste oily at all and it was nicely flavoured with a good balance of sweet, sour and salty. The fresh vegetables added a nice crunchy texture, so mix it well with the noodles.
The Herbal Mushrooms are a must have. It came wonderfully presented in a tear shaped bowl with plenty of fat shitake mushrooms swimming in a thick aromatic herbal broth. Having absorbed the herbal essence, the mushrooms oozes with flavor. I love the sweet wolfberries in the broth. It’s piping hot though so be careful not to burn your tongue!
I am the first to admit that it's easier for me to reach for a salmon when shopping for dinner. Mainly because I know exactly how to grill it. Only problem is the ridiculous prices it commands. Looking at the rows of other fishes on offer at a fraction of the cost, it bothered me that I had no idea how to prepare them. Yes, I love my gulai tempoyak… More »