Jakarta padang restaurants' rice of choice

When it comes to nasi padang (rice served with various side dishes), rice grains play a crucial role.
When it comes to nasi padang (rice served with various side dishes), rice grains play a crucial role.PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

(THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Recently, a one-and-a-half minute video about bouncing leftover rice from a Padang restaurant in Central Jakarta went viral. Uploaded on YouTube, the video said the rice contains plastic as it was not sticky. Fortunately, Central Jakarta Police found that there was no trace of plastic rice being produced or served in the eatery.

When it comes to nasi padang (rice served with various side dishes), rice grains play a crucial role.

Marco Padang Peranakan restaurant executive chef Marco Lim told The Jakarta Post that he serves only  Pandan Wangi rice from Solok regency, West Sumatra.

He explained that there are three types of beras Solok, namely Pandan Wangi, Sokan and Anak Daro.

“Sokan is also available in the Batu Sangkar area in West Sumatra,” he said, adding that Bukit Tinggi and the coast areas produce different varieties of rice.

The rice is said to have different characteristics as the grain is firm yet soft.

“It blends well with coconut milk gravy (that we serve in Padang restaurants),” he said.

Chef Lim also said that rice grains from other parts of Indonesia, such as Cianjur regency in West Java, tend to be pulen (soft, chewy and sticky textures).

This type of rice does not blend well with the coconut milk gravy.

“It's stickier too,” he added.

To get beras Solok in Jakarta is not an easy job. For instance, chef Lim needs to work directly with the farmers in Solok and ship the rice to Jakarta.

“Usually, people (in Jakarta) get beras Solok via word of mouth," he said, explaining that most of the rice sellers in the capital offer only a small amount of beras Solok.

Though beras Solok is popular among Padang natives, not all Padang restaurants are able to sell it. Due to the shipping cost, the price tends to be more expensive too.

Simay Padang server Jon shared that the restaurant uses rice from Cilegon, West Java, adding that they would not be able to make a profit out of beras Solok.