Zoom in on some of the reasons why Jakarta is not only Indonesia’s capital city, but also one of the country’s culinary havens.
Being the capital of Indonesia is not an easy job. It means having to represent the best of a country of more than 250 million people in the eyes of the world, across an unimaginable number of fields and matters.
The area of food, however, has never quite been one that worries Jakarta. The city continuously showcases the versatility of Indonesian cuisine by evolving it to suit current tastes, without losing touch of the flavours and nuances that made it unique to begin with. This would explain why dining options seem to be endless here!
Nonetheless, we at GOASEAN want you to experience some of the best parts of Jakarta’s dining scene—which is why we have compiled a few dishes you simply must have during your stay in the city. Each dish we’ve listed here comes with a special recommendation by Food Maps, our new show that’s available exclusively on the GOASEAN travel channel.
Image Credit: Food Maps
Commonly housed in a banana leaf parcel, nasi uduk’s main feature is rice that is immersed and cooked in coconut milk instead of water. This gives it a rich, creamy texture, which is complemented by flavours that are normally obtained from lemongrass, additional herbs and spices. It is dressed with servings of fried shallots right before it is served, and is usually eaten with a variety of side dishes—like ayam goring (fried chicken) or deep-fried tempeh.
Food Maps’ Eatery of Choice: Nasi Uduk & Ayam Goreng Zainal Fanani
Address: Jalan Kebon Kacang 8 No. 5, Tanah Abang, Jakarta Pusat, Indonesia
Like numerous other countries across the world, Indonesia has its own take on salad too: gado-gado. Distinguished by its peanut-based dressing, gado-gado is composed primarily of steamed or boiled vegetables, tempeh, tofu, hard-boiled eggs and pieces of lontong (rice cakes). Its name, which literally means ‘mix-mix’, refers to the fact that it is a mixture of various ingredients; all of which should be mixed with the peanut sauce to be fully enjoyed.
Food Maps’ Eatery of Choice: Gado-gado Bon-Bin
Address: Jalan Cikini IV No. 5, Jakarta 10330, Indonesia
Known in English as ‘oxtail soup’, sop buntut is one of Jakarta’s—and by extension, Indonesia’s—most luxurious comfort foods. Its main ingredient is oxtail, and this core component is cooked with various herbs, spices and vegetables to create a soup that is clear but flavourful. Its spicy and tangy notes make it apt for consumption with white rice, and it is best accentuated with sambal, as well as with a drizzle of lime juice.
Food Maps’ Eatery of Choice: Bogor Café
Address: Hotel Borobudur, Jalan Lapangan Banteng Selatan, Jakarta, Indonesia
If nasi tumpeng does not astound you with its appearance, you will certainly gain amusement from the process of eating it. After all, how many times have you chomped down a cone of rice? As surreal as it may sound, nasi tumpeng presents yellow uduk rice that is compressed into the shape of a cone and surrounded by a colourful array of side dishes. Its impressiveness has led to it being officially recognized as Indonesia’s national dish, and it is a must-have during special occasions or events in the country.
Food Maps’ Eatery of Choice: Lumpang Mas
Address: 146, Jalan Panglima Polim 3, Kebayoran Baru, Jakarta, Indonesia
There’s a song in the musical ‘Hairspray’ which claims that “The darker the chocolate, the richer the taste.” The same notion applies in the case of nasi rawon—only, the term ‘chocolate’ should be substituted with ‘soup’ here. Renowned for its dark hue, the broth component of nasi rawon gets its signature colour from the keluak seed, which also equips the dish with a distinct flavour. Throw a few additional herbs and spices like lemongrass and ginger into the mix, along with servings of hearty beef and beef stock, and you have a strong dish that captivates from the very first bite.
Food Maps’ Eatery of Choice: Rawon Setan Mbak Endang
Address: Jalan Mangga Besar Raya No.100A, Sawah Besar, Kota Jakarta Pusat, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 11160, Indonesia
Rijsttafel may not come across as sounding very Indonesian, and that is because it is actually a term of Dutch origin. It refers to a dining style in which rice is cooked in several different forms and eaten with a vast variety of side dishes, the latter of which can go up to over 30 in number. This form of dining was introduced to Indonesia by the Dutch during their colonization of the country as a means of showcasing their wealth while enjoying myriad flavours and textures at one go.
Food Maps’ Eatery of Choice: Oasis Restaurant
Address: Jalan Raden Saleh Raya No. 47, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 10330, Indonesia
Perfect for late-night snacking or supper, sate Padang is a timeless classic that has been enjoyed by generations of Indonesians—both in and out of Jakarta. It is mainly beef-based, although variations which use chicken and lamb are known to exist. Pieces of beef are diced and skewered for grilling after they have been boiled with various herbs and spices like galangal and turmeric. Once the meat is removed, the remaining stock is used to make sate Padang’s signature dipping gravy.
Food Maps’ Eatery of Choice: Sate Padang Ajo Ramon
Address: Jalan Cikajang Raya No.72, Kebayoran Baru, Kota Jakarta Selatan, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 12170, Indonesia
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