If variety in street food is what you’re looking for, then search no further. Jakarta’s street food hails from all over the Indonesian archipelago, thanks to intra-migration. This makes the capital a haven for street food lovers, with a wide range of delicious food that can cater to any taste.
Street food carts are spread throughout the city and are easy to find near office buildings and schools. Give these five street food stalls a try when you’re in town. Pondok Sate Pak Heri, Burbur Ayam Tebet Barat, Martabak Bandung Pecenongan and Sop Kaki Kambing Bang Hasan are all chosen by me, while Kwetiau Akang is recommended by popular food bloggers.
Address: Muara Karang, Arteri Pondok Indah, Jakarta, Indonesia 14450
Opening hours: Open daily from 5pm to 1am
Contact: +62 21 68682882 or www.facebook.com/kwetiauakang
A legend in Jakarta, this stall is known for its Medanese style kwetiau (flat rice noodle). It had its humble origins as a road-side stall in Medan city in 1958 at Petisah market, but the business has expanded throughout the years to four branches in Jakarta. Family-owned and managed, Kwetiau Akang still uses charcoal to cook the kwetiau and you can have it dry or with gravy.
Hot favourites are the char kway teow and the mie tomat (tomato noodle), which have meatball, hepia (mixed dough of prawn, flour, carrot then deep fried), char siu and fried prawn.
You should also give the nasi goreng with crab pincers a try. The rice has a good wok hei, and is complemented nicely with the generous amount of pincers, which are fresh and sweet. Head to the original restaurant at Muara Karang, helmed by the founder’s grandson Deny Roys, who is also the owner and cook of the restaurant and the Pondok Indah branch.
Pondok Sate Pak Heri
Address: A 300m stretch (behind Sari Pan Pacific Hotel) of Jalan Agus Salim in Central Jakarta
Opening hours: Open daily from about 8pm until pre-dawn hours
One of more than a dozen Sate Madura stalls that line the Sabang stretch late at night, Pondok Sate Pak Heri is said to be the best one there. It is located outside the only police post in the area. Sate, or satay, is marinated chicken or lamb meat skewers grilled over charcoal. While Indonesia has many sate variants, Madura – an island off East Java – is especially popular for its distinct sweet peanut sauce recipe.
At Pondok Sate Pak Heri, a banana leaf plate with 10 sticks of Sate Madura with rice and a pickle side dish will set you back about 15,000 rupiah (S$1.90).
Sop Kaki Kambing Bang Hasan
Address: Jalan Plaju, in front of the No. 5 house
How to get there: A 10-minute walk from UOB building in Central Jakarta
Opening hours: Open Monday to Thursday, Saturday to Sunday, from 9am to 1pm or when the soup sells out
Savour a bowl of the Betawi (indigenous Jakarta) dish of sop kaki kambing, or lamb’s feet soup here. Vendor Bang Hasan has been running his business since 1972 and counts state-owned Enterprise minister Dahlan Iskan and veteran politician Akbar Tanjung among his customers.
The milky soup he serves contains cow’s milk powder as the base ingredient. Aside from lamb’s feet, other parts such as lamb’s meat, tongue, lungs, eyes and ears are also available. A bowl of 10 pieces costs 40,000 rupiah ($4.20). An extra 10,000 rupiah will get you two small banana leaf packets containing lamb’s brain that can be added to the soup. The soup tastes deliciously salty and sweet at the same time.
Bubur Ayam Tebet Barat
Address: Jalan Tebet Barat Dalam, South Jakarta (located just outside Radja Ketjil Peranakan
Opening hours: Open daily from 6am to about 9am or when the chicken porridge sells out
Located at Jalan Tebet Barat Dalam, this bubur ayam (chicken porridge) stall is considered one of the best in town. It started out as one street cart but has now expanded to occupy two carts that sit side by side.
Indonesia has several variants of porridge. The one here is the Cirebon version, with chicken pieces, thin sliced celery, fried scallion, fried soybean, emping (melinjo crackers) and a thin curry sauce. It costs 7,000 rupiah a bowl ($0.70). An optional side dish of fried chicken intestine or chicken heart satay is 1,000 rupiah each.
Martabak Bandung Pecenongan
Address: Jalan Pecenongan, North Jakarta (near Alila Hotel)
Opening hours: Open daily from 7pm till dawn
This martabak stall on a raised shoulder in Jalan Pecenongan sells a unique cashew nut martabak, which is a sweet version of martabak. The cashew nuts are crushed and sprinkled onto the layered pancake. One cashew nut martabak can feed four to five people and costs 60,000 rupiah ($6.30). Add cheese for an extra 20,000 rupiah.
The stall also sells a salty martabak, which is the Indonesian version of roti prata – with additional fillings of cooked ground beef, duck egg, shallots, celery leaves and curry powder. A cucumber and carrot pickle side dish usually accompanies a salty martabak. The salty martabak costs 35,000 rupiah.