fried noodle

6 Most delicious food in jakarta chinatown: Kalimati Alley

https://goo.gl/maps/KK5Xfx6Ve2sy438n8

Remember about the first part of my culinary adventure in Gloria Alley in the oldest Chinatown in Jakarta, Glodok? The saga continues to the second part of the food tour, which is in Kalimati Alley.

Situated about 300 meters from Gloria Alley, Kalimati Alley is reachable on foot. Nonetheless, a newbie (like me) will have a difficulty to find one. Leaving Gloria Alley, my fellow tour members and I passed through winding streets that didn’t seem to have any single clue where it ended. Fortunately, we only only needed to follow wherever our tour guide lead us without thinking too much.

Finally, we found Santa Maria de Fatima Church, the only church with a Chinese influence architecture, and Strada Ricci School, where my mom used to study when she was a child. Then, we headed straight to the dark alley in the end of the street. I was wondering whether it was another winding path to our destination or…

“This is Kalimati Alley!” the guide said enthusiastically.

gang kalimati
Kalimati Alley

Okay, so the dark alley was indeed Kalimati Alley. Assuming that Gloria Alley was already narrow and busy, it was nothing compared to Kalimati Alley. Kalimati Alley was so narrow that only a motorcycle can fit in the lane. Shophouses on both sides had canopies almost “touching” each other. As a result, the sun has a difficulty to shine our way and the alley looked dark from the distance. Nonetheless, the real temptation remained from free smells and curious appearance of the food everywhere we went.

  • PD. Jaya Abadi

PD Jaya Abadi is the oldest convenient store in the area, whose building is still well-maintained in its original design since 1907. The original name of the store is Tjang Thjang Sen, referring to its first owner, now run by the 4th generation of the family. It sells a lot of things, including various imported snacks, sauces and spices from China and dried plants for medication purposes. If you take a look at the rear side of the store, you’ll see imported eels commonly used for unagi sushi in Japanese restaurants and turtles for pioh (turtle meat soup). These animals are sold alive to guarantee their freshness. Honestly, I just don’t have the heart to watch the turtles chopped alive for customer’s order.

supermarket
PD Jaya Abadi
  • Cempedak Goreng Cik Lina

In western countries, cempedak is considered an exotic and rare fruit with pungent smell, although the intensity is less than that of durian. Being similar to jackfruit, cempedak has stronger smell, yellowish skin when ripe, smaller size fruit and softer meat texture.

Cempedak is no strange for Southeast Asian countries, including Indonesia, but it’s not very easy to find compared to jackfruit. How about fried cempedak? Yep, it’s even harder. If fried bananas and jackfruit chips are everywhere, cempedak isn’t. Suppose you want to try one, make sure you get it from the best, like Cempedak Goreng Cik Lina (literally meaning Sis Lina’s Fried Cempedak).

The process of making fried cempedak seems very simple and nothing more than deep fried with flour. Nonetheless, the secret weapon of the great taste lies on the preferred cempedak fruit itself, that has to be ripe, soft texture, orange color and sweet taste. Cik Lina inherits the business from her mother who started it in 1990s. Sold for Rp. 15.000 ($1) per piece, the size is as big as your palm. The crunchiness and sweetness of the fried cempedak is addictive, I’m telling you! No wonder there are many loyal customers (and still counting) after more than 30 years in the business. Watch out, as you may be the next “victim” after tasting the mouthwatering fried cempedak!

cempedak goreng
Cik Lina’s fried cempedak
  • Pia Lao Beijing  (Lao’s Beijing Style Pia Cake)        

Pia is originally a Chinese-style cake made of mung bean and sugar wrapped with dough. Nowadays, pia cake has more varieties of filling. At Lao’s, pia cakes are available with choices of durian, cheese, chocolate and red bean. Lao referred to the owner’s name, who comes from Beijing and now an Indonesian resident.

What I love the most from Pia Lao Beijing is the cake is served fresh from the oven, so the dough is warm and crunchy while eating on the spot. However, the main reason why it’s baked directly at the stall is to prove that the pia is halal and doesn’t use lard in the baking process. This tactic works very well, especially in the Chinatown situated in the country whose 94% of its inhabitants are moslems.

The best seller is the mung bean flavor, yet I prefer the cheese one because I like cheese much more than any other flavors. The filling is abundant yet balanced with the amount of dough covering the content. The shape and size of Lao’s pia is easily recognizable because it’s wider, flatter than any pia in other stores and sprinkled with sesame seeds (while others aren’t). It’s so affordable as well, only Rp. 6000 ($ 0.40) per piece.

pia beijing
Lao’s Beijing style pia
  • Vegetarian Ko Handi

Not far from Pia Lao Beijing, Ko Handi Vegetarian restaurant is the only vegetarian food at Kalimati Alley. Rendang (Padang-style stewed beef in coconut milk and spices) and roast pork are the most wanted ones. Using mushroom and flour as main ingredients, the taste is surprisingly very similar to the original meat flavors. The only difference is vegetarian meats aren’t as fibrous as real meat, therefore they lessen the chance to stuck between teeth when chewed. That’s what I love the most about fake meats, anyways. And the price? No worries, its just Rp. 8000 ($ 0.50) per piece.

vegetarian
vegetarian Koh Handi
  • Mie Baskom

Mie Baskom means “noodle in a big bowl”. The stall is called that way because the fried noodle as the main menu is placed in a big stainless steel bowl, which choices of fried kwetiau (wide-shaped noodle) and fried vermicelli. It also offers deep fried snacks. The big bowl noodle business has been running for 2 generations and my parents were one of the main customers during their childhood. For Rp. 18.000 ($ 1.30), it’s served in quite a large portion and fit for 2 persons when not too hungry. The taste is pretty good and the noodle is in the right al dente texture that I like. Apart from that, my parents said that the distinctive flavor hasn’t changed since 1960s.

fried noodle
mie baskom
  • Lao Hoe

Operating since 1980s, Lao Hoe restaurant is famous for its Belitung style noodle and laksa (vermicelli in coconut milk soup). I instantly chose Belitung style noodle because I didn’t have any clue of what it’s like. Belitung style noodle consists of noodle, prawn, bean curd, potato, cucumber and prawn crackers. The soup was thick and tasted a bit sweet, that reminds me of another noodle soup called lo mie. One day, I’d like to try the famous laksa!

mie belitung
Mie Belitung at Lao Hoe

Anyways, there was something really special about the prawn cracker. Not only because it’s home made, but also has an intense savory taste of prawn, thin dough and very crispy. To be honest, it’s the best prawn cracker I’ve ever tasted! Offered for Rp 25.000 ($ 1.50), the portion was not that big. Very suitable for those who want to take it as a “snack”. Don’t skip the big-sized deep fried snacks in front of the restaurant looked very eye-catching as well, sold for Rp. 10.000 ($ 0.80) per piece. Last but not least, Lao Hoe restaurant never uses MSG and preservatives in their cooking.

Of all the abundant choices that you may not be able to try all of them at once, which ones you wanna try in the first place? Suppose you don’t have all the time in the world to return and its too much for your tummy, you can have some of them to go as well. I guarantee, you wont be sorry!

pork dumpling

6 most delicious Food in JAKARTA CHINATOWN: Gloria Alley

https://goo.gl/maps/5RkAhUQwWmsX5S3T8

The largest Chinatown in Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, is Glodok area. Situated in the west side of Jakarta, to be exact, Glodok has been the silent witness of cultural diversity and long history of Chinese ethnics settlement since the 18th century. The name Glodok is derived from the sound of shower from a small building in the Townhall courtyard, whose sound is like “grojok… grojok”. Then, the locals pronounce it as “glodok” since they have a difficulty in pronouncing straight and sharp “r” sound.

Not only is Glodok a melting pot for Chinese descendants’ community, but also foodies’ favorite spot. Although culinary business is very competitive nowadays and Glodok is not as busy as it used to be back in the 80’s and 90’s (aka the year of my childhood), it doesn’t mean that the oldest Chinatown in Jakarta completely lose its vibe because it offers unique food varieties in a shoestring.

Therefore, I decided to join Glodok Food Tour organized by Wisata Kreatif Jakarta, a walking tour specifically for culinary experience in Glodok area. Although I live not very far from Glodok, it doesn’t mean I know everything about it. To be honest, I seldom explore the area by myself and I feel like being a total stranger in my own city. I’m not only bad at road directions in general, but also I become worse when I have to memorize a winding road with densely populated shophouses along the way. So there I was with 2 other participants and a licensed guide.

There are 2 main alleys to get mouthwatering Chinese street food: Gloria Alley (Gang Gloria) and Kalimati Alley (Gang Kalimati). At first, let’s take a closer look at Gloria Alley. When you walk around Gloria Alley, you need to be aware that most transactions are cash only and don’t accept credit cards. If you’re lucky, you can use a debit cards, though not always. Besides, you need to share the lane with workers bringing huge and loaded goods for the stores or stalls. It’s also a public secret that narrow and crowded streets are usually a place where pickpockets do their job as well.

In my opinion, these are culinary spots worth to try:

  • Pork Dumpling

The pork dumpling are sold on an old-fashioned bike so-called sepeda ontel without a permanent stall and brand. Using peanut sauce as a dressing, the dumpling is offered for Rp. 20.000 ($ 1.50) for 10 pieces, with the choice of dumpling, potato, egg, bitter gourd and pork skin. Since most buyers consume it on the go, there’s a satay stick so you can eat it easily without making your hands dirty. I love it for its balanced taste of the meat and flour altogether without draining my money.

pork dumpling
pork dumpling
  • Mi Pan

Literally meaning rice flour in Hakka dialect, Mi pan is a snack from Kalimantan (Borneo) made of rice flour, garlic oil, fried minced garlic and sweet black sauce for merely Rp. 7000 ($ 0.50) per piece. My fellow foodies advice me to ask for more fried minced garlic to make it more fragrant and savory. They’re completely right about this as fried minced garlic also harmonizes the sweetness of the black sauce. Just like the pork dumpling seller, he doesn’t have his own stall and just sitting in front the wall separator of shophouses.

glodok
mi pan
  • Kopi Es Tak Kie

Established in 1927 oleh Liong Kwie Tjong, Kopi Es Tak Kie (Tak Kie Iced Coffee) is nowadays managed by the third generation of his family. I tried the iced milk coffee, for Rp. 25.000 ($ 1.70) and I think it has an old-fashioned taste by only using a dark roast robusta coffee and condensed milk without creamer. It’s definitely a strong coffee to keep you awake.

kopi tak kie
iced coffee milk

Although it’s called kopi es (iced coffee), Kopi Es Tak Kie also has its signature mixed pork rice, consisting of cha sieuw (roast pork), crispy pork, lap chiong sausage and Javanese style braised egg. You’d better come in the morning, because the coffee house will run out of it instantly after lunch. For a Rp 55.000 ($ 4.50), it’s not very cheap but still worth it for a great taste.

Nowadays, Kopi Es Tak Kie has some branches at the food court in some shopping malls. It also participates in culinary bazaar events, yet unfortunately, the portion is not as big as that in Gloria Alley for the same price, most probably because it has to compensate with a quite large amount of revenue sharing or expensive rental cost.

  • Sek Ba 77 Bek Tim

There are several food stalls selling sekba and bektim, steamed pork innards immersed in soup made of Chinese herbs and sweet soy sauce, in Glodok. The difference between 2 of them is that sekba is served dry. On the other hand, bektim is served with the soup. Sek Ba 77 Bek Tim, situated in front of Kopi Es Tak Kie is one of the popular stalls. Despite selling in a modest cart, the business has been running for 2 generations and still counting. Sold for Rp 20.000 ($ 1.50), the herb soup tastes amazing although I don’t like most of the contents, except intestine, tongue and the meat attached in pork belly and skin.

sek ba
sekba and bektim
  • Pioh Tim Tauco

Suppose you are adventurous enough and feel lie trying something unique, pi oh could be perfect choice for you. Pioh is steamed turtle meat (so-called bulus in Indonesian, to be exact) served with soup made of turtle broth. Still situated in front of Kopi Es Tak Kie, there’s Pioh Tim Tauco, whose soup is mixed with tauco, fermented soybean, resulting with more savoury taste. This is the only food I haven’t tried since I’m usually not really a fan of soft and chewy meat. I feel so pity for the turtle, anyways.

pi poh tauco glodok
pi oh tim tauco
  • Snack Shop

Assorted sweets from chocolates to candies, snacks, dried fruits, sweetened fruits sold in giant glasses jar is the signature look of snack shops in Glodok, that I think they are instagrammable enough to capture. Besides, it has old-fashioned and less known candy and chocolate brands not provided in modern supermarkets. I can guarantee that binge eaters will have a lot of fun exploring this shop. You can purchase them in a small quantity since the price is per 100 grams.

snack shop

Apart from culinary experience, Gloria Alley also offers Chinese New Year attributes, Buddhist related prayer tools, accessories, convenient store, fruit market and butcher shop. Our tour didn’t just end there because we were about to visit 2nd alley: Kalimati Alley (Gang Kalimati).

It’s getting more excited, I promise you. So stay tuned for my next post on culinary adventure in Kalimati Alley!