Sampling some of Jarkarta's finest09 March, 2012 by Yan
During the last weekend of February, the Supermerlion team and friends had planned a short weekend getaway to visit Jakarta for the AKB48 x JKT48 concert. While the main objective was largely accomplished, I had a secondary objective to fulfill; to actually try out some real Indonesian food. Warning: Tasty food inside this post.
Due to the factor that this was going to be a short 2 day trip in Jakarta involving attending a concert and following up with whatever events the Japan Pop Culture Festival was going to throw at us, we did not have any extra time to actually do some sightseeing. But no matter how frenzied our schedule was going to be, everyone’s got to eat something. So, we had better make this trip more enjoyable by planning for some great food to go with it.
The plan was simple. Between the several hours from getting off the plane and before the concert, we were to stuff ourselves silly with food. Then on day two, stuff more food down into our stomach right before our flight back to Singapore. With the aid of an Indonesian friend accompanying us on the trip, about anything that might had posed as a problem was solved.
Normally, trying out food places in a new country involves some luck and gut feeling in picking out places to dine in. But this time the mum of our Indonesian friend offered to take us around to her favorite spots, eliminating our worry and saving us a good load of trouble from playing the guessing game.
First proper meal of the day, of course had to be the world famous Indonesian Padang cuisine.
Right off the bat our “Indonesian Mum” brought us to her favorite Padang restaurant to try out what real Indonesian Padang is all about. There’s always this special feeling when having a particular cuisine in its home ground. Eating the same kind of food that the locals are accustomed to is what I have grown to love about visiting other countries.
It was definitely very different from the Padang food I have tasted in Singapore, since the authentic one is not actually tuned to suit our Singaporean taste buds (we do expect much spicier food somehow). Since Indonesian cooks are not shy with their usage of seasonings, anyone who has a low tolerance towards salt or MSG might want to give this a miss. With me feeling “mission accomplished”, off we went to our concert avenue with stuffed stomachs.
On a side note, generous and friendly Indonesian fans were giving out free snacks and Pokari Sweat drinks to fans who are queuing patiently under the sweltering heat. It is hard work to wait patiently to see your idols but it takes real dedication to buy extra food and water to share with everyone else who had the same motive as you.
After the concert was over, our “Indonesian Mum” even roped in “Indonesian Dad” to bring us for a good dinner. Their dedication has to be saluted, since bringing us to sample those great foods meant traveling over an hour from one end of Jakarta to another most of the time.
Other than Padang, the other notable stuff to sample would had been the Indonesian style grilled seafood, a.k.a. Kuring. As it was already late in the night and most shops locally don’t really open till late, much of the seafood our Indonesian hosts wanted to order were already out of stock. But that was really a minor issue when the soul of the restaurant lay in their chili spices. This one did a great job. Most of us had a second or even third serving of food, a small part due to the fact that we had drained most of our energy during the concert.
Our hosts did promise to bring us to sample one of the best seafood restaurant the very next day, partly also since our Indonesian friend wanted us to try out a particular fish that he had been raving about even before the trip. Truthfully, this was also the very best meal we had before we caught our plane back to Singapore.
You know you have to order the very same fish if the restaurant displays a huge painted stone version right outside their doors. And it does not disappoint when my friend claimed that he can finish one whole by himself, fins and all. Like him, I was won over by the clean, fresh and simple taste that this fish has to offer. Goes great by itself or paired with some belchean chili.
Fish number 2 was a clear winner for the rest of the gang, partly because this variation of Indonesian style cooking is hugely popular back in Singapore. Guess Singaporeans really can’t resist a well grilled, spiced oily fish to pair with rice. Only managed to steal a small piece of flesh before said friend took the whole fish back to his plate.
The only real regret, was that everyone had eaten from the hotel’s breakfast buffet an hour before we went for our actual meal at this seafood restaurant. Dining such great food at 50% fullness and not being able to sample more of the other dishes was a real pity that needs to be fixed during the next chance we get to visit Jakarta again. Recommended restaurant? Very much.
To end off, a very huge thanks to both my Indonesian friend (who prefers his identity kept secret) and both his parents who had taken the precious time off their weekend to accompany us throughout the trip. Most of the plans in this trip wouldn’t had been possible if not for their intervention, right down from arranging a personal driver and car to fetch us around Jakarta to bringing us around the city with their superb knowledge of the locations and traffic. Thank you.Planning your holiday? We recommend visiting Agoda for a full list of hotels with early bird specials.