The Famous BreadTalk - a franchise bakery from Singapore
Tuesday, July 18 2006
Flying to Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia
Quite abruptly, my father decided that my mom, my sister, and I come with him to his Jakarta trip. It’s not unusual for me to go to Jakarta. I have been going there ever since I was only a year old. Back then, we’d go there by car, consuming almost 24 hours to reach the destination. No wonder I’d go there often, my mom is from Jakarta; she was born there and her side of the family still lives there.
The plane ride, both coming and going, was nauseating for me. The takeoff and landing was very bumpy and there were a lot of turbulences in the air. That kind of flight made me feeling green and blue.
Even though I’ve been to Jakarta often, by no means I know every twist and turn of the streets. We’d always use a chauffeur and sleep most of the time in the car, bored with the increasing traffic jam. The only places familiar to us are the huge shopping malls like Mall Taman Anggrek [MTA], Plaza Senayan [PS], Plaza Indonesia [PI], Puri Indah Mall, Mall Kelapa Gading [MKG], and many more.
However, we do go to a sort of market called Pasar Baru [“Passer Baroe” was the old name; it literally translates into “New Market”]. It’s like a long paved road with small shops on the sides. There is an underground market as well where they sell “jajan pasar” [street snacks], traditional foods, and some dried stuff [such as all kinds of crackers, noodle, etc].
Also often visited is the hospital where my grandpa used to and still does work at age 91 [this November]. It’s called “Rumah Sakit Husada” [“Rumah sakit” means hospital]. I can proudly say that my grandpa is a Dutch-educated doctor; educated in the Dutch school during the Dutch colony. He can still speak Dutch until now, it was especially used in the conversation with my grandma; who passed away 2 years ago. My grandpa is a hardworking man and well-respected. He still got an office at the hospital and goes there twice a week.
Now, let’s talk about the foods I encountered while in Jakarta….
I must have forgotten to mention that I like to go to the market in Jakarta too. Since it’s located in a residence area, it’s cleaner and neater. I like to go there in the morning to buy breakfast. Most often, we are having “Bakmi Ayam” [Chicken noodle], which is boiled noodle with shredded chicken and vegetables and served with chicken broth. It depends on people’s preference whether they like their noodle swimming in the broth or just eat it plainly with hot chili sauce. The noodle is chewy and elastic, it’s usually splashed with a mixture of condiments [soy sauce, sesame oil, fish sauce, salt and sugar].
Along with the noodle, we usually buy some “jajan pasar” as well. The variety is countless! In the picture, you can see “kue pepe” [in the picture] which is layers of steamed cake made of glutinuous rice flour. There are two flavors sold in the market, “pandan” and chocolate. This is my mom’s favorite snack when she was a little girl. They also have “gemblong”, “combro”, “bolu kukus”, “talam ubi”, “nagasari”, and many many more! Each one can’t be translated literally and must be given long explanations. When you’re shopping for street snacks in markets in Jakarta, just ask for those foods I mentioned.
In Sogo Department Store, there is a food court specializing in foods from around Indonesia [mainly in Java] called Spice Garden. They also sell traditional drinks, and Japanese and Chinese foods. I’ve tried their “Soto Betawi”, “Mie Jogja” [Jogja Noodle], and Coto Makassar. This time, I’m going to try “Soto Mie Bogor”. It’s basically a yellow soup with rice vermicelli, beef, brisket, “risol” [fried square wonton”], and vegetables. It’s ready to eat after some “jeruk limo” [small limes] juice is squirted and some sweet soy sauce is poured over. To add more challenge, people will spoon in a lot of chili sauce [“sambal”]. Actually, I came across this food when Mr. W bought it for me in Bogor, a city outside Jakarta. But, it didn’t taste good at all back then, so I wanted to try it again at a more decent place because he keeps boasting how good it is.
My father is a fruit-lover! He loves buying and eating fruits, especially bananas. Perhaps it has something to do with his Chinese horoscope being “monkey”…
I realized that there are a lot of common fruits in Indonesia that can’t be easily found in Canada. I don’t think I’ve seen either mangosteen [“manggis" in Indonesian] or “matoa” in Canada. My father once bought the “jambu air” from a Chinese grocery in Markham. I heard that you can find mangosteen in Pusateris, but I’ve never been there myself. While “matoa”, I don’t think you can find it anywhere else since it’s cultivated in Irian Jaya [west of Papua New Guinea]. Perhaps when it’s popular enough, it will be mass-cultivated and exported. Its flesh is almost like longan [“kelengkeng” in Indonesian].
On my first day in Jakarta, I still haven’t got the chance to meet my grandpa. Usually, we would meet him first thing when we arrived. But not this time. A lot of things have changed. I found myself missing my grandpa...