As the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta attracts scores of international and domestic immigrants. Along with the migration, these people brought their different backgrounds, cultures, dialects, and cuisines into this city. Thus, unsurprisingly hundreds of different dishes from all over Indonesia and all over the world can be found in Jakarta. This makes Jakarta a perfect heaven for food lovers to spoil their taste buds.
No need to worry about feeling hungry in Jakarta. Thousands of eating spots ranging from upscale restaurants to street food stalls and hawker centers are all here in Jakarta!
But, if you desire for more authentic food, the best way is to venture to street hawkers. The taste of hawker’s food is so much better than in the restaurants. I often wonder why less hygienic, easy to go foods are usually more delicious?
Yes, you can find some of the best of Indonesia’s culinary creations on the streets, very inexpensive (around one US dollar or less per serving), throughout the day from very early morning till very late evening….
In the morning
The common menu for breakfast are bubur ayam and ketupat sayur
Bubur ayam (chicken porridge)
Pondering where to eat in the wee hours of the morning? No worry! Bubur Ayam is one of the right meals. The Indonesian style chicken porridge is similar to the Chinese porridge. The ingredients used are chicken broth, with the flavor mainly attained from soy sauce, pepper and green onion. The thick porridge is then topped with shreds of fried chicken, cha-kuay (salty, fluffy fried dough) and kerupuk (crispy crackers)
Every morning, the street hawkers pass by to let the customers know they are there, they hit the bowl using the spoon to make noise.
“Ketupat” is rice cake that boiled in a rhombus-shaped packet of plaited young coconut leaves. “Sayur” is a kind of creamy soup. “Ketupat sayur” has many kinds of variant. It depends on where it is from.
The one that passes my house in the morning is from Jakarta. The vegetable used for the soup is young papaya. So, it is a fruit actually. In the soup, there are also tofu and boiled egg. Ketupat sayur is always accompanied by “kerupuk”, a kind of crispy crackers. The price of one portion of Ketupat Sayur is IDR 5000 if only with tofu. If you want the boiled egg, the price becomes IDR 6000.
During the day…..
You may see other foods like gado-gado, ketoprak, soto mie, mie ayam or mie bakso, gorengan, rujak, siomay, and many more.
‘Gado Gado’ literally means mixture. This dish is a mixture of boiled veggies, tofu, egg, corn, and shrimp crackers with peanut sauce.
Ketoprak is one of traditional food mostly sold by street vendors. Ketoprak offer’s delicious taste and it is quite filling, too. Usually it is eaten with steamed rice cake or lontong which made of rice stuffed into banana leaves shaped into a tube, then boiled until it’s ready to eat. Ketoprak is a mix of beansprouts, fried tofu, and boiled and rice-noodle in peanut sauce.
Need something nice and warm… and I think a bowl of hot Soto Mie (noodle in beef soup). It is just the perfect comforting meal on a rainy day.
Indonesian Mie Ayam (chicken noodle soup) comprising a bowl of chicken stock, boiled choy sum, diced chicken cooked with sweet soy sauce and often added with tomato ketchup on top.
Or you can have meat balls on your noodle and it is called Mie Baso
Gorengan, literally means “fried things.” The golden offerings of this gorengan street hawkers included tahu (tofu), tempeh (bean curd), pisang (bananas), singkong (cassava), and ubi (sweet potato).
Es campur (mix shaved ice dessert) is a favourite Indonesian drink. At festivals, markets and other places where locals gather, you might see a stall selling es campur. The drink is made by placing shaved ice into a cup together with multi-colored jelly items, coconut, chocolate sauce and other items. Locals love the drink, tourists find it rather strange, but its worth a try.
In the evening…..
If you wish to have supper but no meals available in your fridge, no worries; there are also food hawkers in the evening! The choices may vary in other areas; sate ayam/kambing, tongseng, nasi goreng tek-tek, martabak etc.
Different regions in Indonesia have their different versions of sate. The famous Sate Ayam is from the island of Madura, off the coast of the central island, Java. It’s also very common to find this sate peddled on the streets as well as in five-star hotels in Jakarta. The lovely combination of lime juice, ground peanuts, chilies, and the sweet soy sauce makes it perfect. You have to try it at least once.
Tongseng Kambing, a kind of lamb curry from Solo, Central Java. This is one of my favorite dishes ever. You would find it sold on street vendors often together with Sate Kambing or lamb satay. Yes, it’s a typical street food, quite a famous one
Nasi Goreng Tek Tek
The fried rice street vendors are known as Tukang Nasi Goreng Tek – Tek (Tek – Tek Fried Rice man) because when they are selling around the neighborhood with their carts, instead of shouting, they always make a sound… “tek – tek – tek – tek” by tapping a wood.
Have you ever been in a moment when you are very really hungry in the middle of the night?? And potato chips or other snack just won’t fill your hunger for food? Don’t worry. Martabak telor is the perfect food for such situation. The name Martabak comes from the Arabic “muttabaq” meaning “folded” and telor means it contains egg.
This is the sweet version of martabak. It is filled with sugar, nuts and/or chocolate and topped with condensed milk.