Our trip to Indonesia was unexpected and last minute as we were told only 2 days before leaving. We spent a weekend in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, which is located in the popular island of Java. With only 48 hours in the city, we had to maximize our time. My favorite way to explore a new city is by joining a walking tour to learn more about the history of Jakarta. Luckily, one of my husband’s colleagues took us out to a restaurant where we tasted dishes from different regions.
Although the Muslim culture is dominant in Jakarta, its suprisingly very diverse with influences from Malaysia, Middle East, China, India and Holland. Its culture is a mixture of different elements through history, like the Dutch occupation from 17th century till 1942 or the Japanese occupation during the WWII. In addition, there are around 300 different ethnic groups and far more languages and dialects (almost 700), I was very intrigued to learn more about this country’s food culture. Our limited time didn’t give me a lot of flexibility, but I was still able to make the most of it. The words I would use to describe Indonesian cuisine are peanut sauce, Tan Ek Tjoan Bakery, coffee and spaghetti ice-cream.
The peanut sauce is familiar to us, especially since Thai chicken satay with peanut sauce is one of our favorite dishes. Thai peanut sauce though, has a silky texture and a sweeter taste, maybe because of the use of coconut milk. However, Indonesian peanut sauce has a different taste, with more acidity and small bits of peanuts. I liked it so much that when we returned back home to Bangkok, I searched for different recipes online and finally found one that is perfect. Stay tuned and I will upload it asap.
During our walking tour in Jakarta, the tour guide stopped in front of a bicycle bread cart, which sold different kind of bread. The sign on top of it says TAN EK TJOAN. The story behind this bakery cart is quite fascinating…Tan Ek Tjoan founded its bakery in 1921 because he realized that there was a demand for bread from Europeans who relocated in Jakarta. He first opened his factory in Bogor, a city south in Jakarta, and he moved his factory in Cikini, Central Jakarta in 1951. For almost a century, this family business continues to sell bread the best way they know with Bread Carts. Unfortunately, due to high competition and rent, the company moved the factory in Ciputat in 2012. Every day almost 100 bread carts sell the famous Tan Ek Tjoan bread around Jakarta and they always stop in front of the old factory. We tried the brioche bread with cinnamon and chocolate, which was delicious!
I found some photographs from the bakery in Ciputat at Getty Images. Have a look here
Indonesia produces a lot of coffee. Every area has a variety of coffee with different characteristics. Of course, we bought plenty to bring back home and gift to our friends who are coffee lovers. I was surprised to learn that the famous Luwak Coffee is produced in Indonesia too. Luwak coffee is ‘made from the inner berry of (the) finest beans, which are eaten and passed through the digestive tract of the Asian Palm Crivet. These hand selected beans are roasted using the most advanced techniques which result in delivering complex flavors and a perfect cup of the world’s most premiere exotic and rare Luwak coffee’ (Kawi Sari Premium Coffee)
And if you want Jack Nicholson from the Bucket List to explain this to you, watch the following video
This legendary ice-cream shop is opened its door in 1932 by two Italian brothers Luigi and Vincenzo. Nowadays, a Jakarta lady owns the place and it is very famous among locals. The ice cream has a nice milky flavor, very familiar to me. I highly recommend you visit this place if you want to try a real Italian ice cream. But most importantly, dont forget to try their spaghetti ice cream…Check the video below.
The Ragusa Es Italia is located in Jalan Veteran I No.10, Gambir, Jakarta Pusat, Indonesia.
Even if Indonesia has 6 official religious (Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism), we have been told that the majority of people are Muslim and as Muslim they do not eat pork. In some restaurants the waiters are not allowed to say the word pork and show foreigners the dish on the menu. It is the same with alcohol, as the waiters give the wine and drinks menu only to foreigners never to locals.
Indonesia produces raw material like cocoa bean (the most important export product) but it doesn’t have the infrastructure to process the cocoa and make chocolates. So, the cocoa beans are sent to Malaysia, Singapore and USA and then back to Indonesia to sell.
Until next time…
Kisses from Bangkok
P.S. I would like to thank my good friend and designer Georgia for proofreading this post. Georgia is a blogger too. Find more about her on Instagram