In Jakarta, good food can be found in every corner of the city. It might not be as popular as Seoul or Tokyo, but when it comes to food, Jakarta should definitely be up on the list.

Some of Jakarta’s most beloved dishes are sought out in food stalls on the side of the road. And for few bucks, you can already have a taste of Jakarta’s best. Ambiance and price is surely not a defining factor on how good food can be. Here is a list of food you must try on your next trip to Jakarta!

The Ultimate Guide To Jakarta’s Street Food

When the sun goes down in Sabang street, the street food stalls come to life. Vendors set up shop, the charcoals are ablaze, and pots of oil are ready for the hordes of locals and tourists to come. This area is a one-stop source for Indonesia’s best street food. Each stall has its own secret recipe for each dish, so it’s up to you to scout the best ones.

Sate

Sate is basically skewered meat that is grilled over an open flame, and served with a savory sauce. While the dish may seem simple, it’s a favorite among Indonesians. There are different variations depending on the kind of meat. The most popular is the chicken sate. It is marinated with soy sauce and paired with a peanut sauce. You can also try sate kambing (lamb), sate maranggi (beef/lamb in green chili paste), and sate kerang (scallops).

 

Nasi Goreng

Nasi goreng literally translates to “fried rice”. The soy sauce gives the dish its flavor and deep brown color. When you dig in, you’ll find sprinkles of meat and vegetables which give the dish its aroma. It’s sweet, savory, and spicy all at once which is why it’s a favorite lunchtime meal in Indonesia. As with many local dishes, there can be many variations to the recipe. But an authentic recipe should always include kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), belacan or terasi (shrimp paste), shallots, and garlic.

 

Martabak (Fried Stuffed Pancake)

Martabak is Indonesia’s own spin on a pancake. There are two kinds: sweet (Bangka Martabak) and savory (Martabak Telur).  Watching how it’s made is an experience in itself. The sweet martabak is a thick pancake that’s slathered with yellow margarine, followed by a drizzle of chocolate sprinkles, crushed peanuts, and condensed milk. It’s folded in half, turning it into a sandwich, where the residual heat lets the ingredients melt into each other and seep into the pancake. The savory version is the exact opposite: the green onion, cilantro, and ground chicken filling is enveloped into a much thinner batter, almost like a crepe. Having it fried extra crispy brings out the best results. It is then served with chili, pickled cucumber, and radishes.

 

Soto

Soto is a traditional soup that is made with broth, meat, and vegetables. There are countless varieties of soto, classified according to the region of origin or by primary ingredient. This soup is always filled to the brim with ingredients and often comes with side dishes. Many prefer to eat it with quail eggs, mashed potato patties, skewered grilled tripes, and more.

 

Must-Try Local Eats In Jakarta

If you’re hungry for more, don’t forget to try out these dishes. You can be sure to find many restaurants that serve these in any part of the city. The dishes are a medley of sweet, savory, and spicy, so it’s no wonder they’re a staple for every Indonesian. They’re also always served in big portions, so you don’t have to worry about leaving hungry.

 

Nasi Campur

Nasi campur is not just any other mixed rice. On top of a plate of white rice is a mountain of side dishes that comes in a rainbow of colors. There is no rule when it comes to making nasi campur, but an assortment of meat and vegetables is in the checklist. It can also come with sambal, egg, fried shrimp crackers (krupuk), and peanuts for an array of textures and flavors.

Where to eat: Nasi Campur Akwang Pontianak, Jl. Pademangan IV, Gang 22 No. 7, Gunung Sahari, Jakarta

 

Bakmi

Also referred to as mie, this dish is a must-try for noodle fans. Bakmi translates to “meat noodles” and traces back to Chinese origins. The dish has everything you can ask for and more: a heavy serving of handmade noodles, topped with an equally generous amount of vegetables and toppings. It can be served with a sweet or savory soup.

Where to eat: Bakmi Ho Liaw, Jl. Kelapa Kopyor Raya 14 Kelapa Gading

 

Nasi Padang

Nasi padang is like a personal buffet, the small platters are laid out and stacked for you to choose freely. Normally a dozen dishes are served, while some restaurants can serve up to 50 dishes. The sheer number might be overwhelming, but you don’t have to eat everything. Just choose the ones you want to eat and the rest will not be charged to your bill. Try the curried cow brain, beef rendang, dendeng, and padang-style chicken.

Where to eat: Pagi Sore, Jalan Cipete Raya (Gandaria Selatan), Jakarta Selatan

 

 

A Taste Of Jakarta’s Home-Cooked Dishes

Nothing beats a home-cooked dish.

 

Kepiting Goreng Bawang Putih (Stuffed Garlic Crab)

This is a straightforward recipe, but the preparation is key when it comes to this dish. These crabs are stuffed with a mix of crushed garlic, ginger, salt, and coriander. It is then steamed and fried, then smothered with even more toasted garlic.

 

Ayam Goreng Bumbu Kuning Sayur Lodeh

This golden stunner is called Ayam Goreng Bumbu Kuning Sayur Lodeh or Yellow Spiced Fried Chicken. It’s made with a blend of crushed turmeric, ginger, garlic, and spring onion. The chicken is rubbed with the paste and boiled. It’s then deep fried until crisp, and topped with the fried bits of spices.

 

 

 

Erwan Heussaff
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