Thursday, November 28, 2013

Nasi Goreng: quintessential dish to eat when in Jakarta

Nasi goreng, or fried rice is an ubiquitious meal when in Indonesia. Not only is it easy to order for a foreigner, but it seems that this is a very popular dish amongst locals as well.

In my recent visit to Jakarta coutesy of Jakarta Tourism Board as invited by Russell Cheong of Winsemius, I did indeed taste many nasi goreng...often with the moniker istimewa (special) tagged to it. Truth be told, all were excellent. But the following were rather outstanding for one reason or other.

Reputed to be one of the more famous stalls in Jakarta, with branches in Kemang and the city, this fried rice is special for the use of crab pincers. The crab must be pretty small, as the pincers themselves are very small, but the stall is generous, each plate having perhaps 8 to 10 pincers. They were fresh, sweet, and added a wonderful crustacean aroma to the fried rice. The rice itself was very nicely fried, with a good wok hei, and plenty of ingredients. Very nice. The stall is also famous for their kway teow, spelt kweitiau in Indonesia.

Fried the same way, with crab pincers, prawns, roasted pork, egg and some vegetables. Very nice.

Other notable ones is the Nasi Goreng Istimewa at Cafe Batavia in the old city.

Comes with two sticks of chicken satay, fried chicken and condiments. Also beautifully fried, and magnificently presented.

I also need to mention the nasi goreng served by a small restaurant attached to the Bersih and Sehat spa. Done with petai.

Absolutely wonderful. Simply fried, with excellent wok hei. The Indonesia petai is a bit less pungent and fragrant (some say smelly, but I love the bean, so I prefer fragrant) than the Malaysia cultivar. Slightly sweet, with a light tinge of bitterness on the after taste. The rice has great wok hei. Absolutely marvellous with the very spicy sambal.

So when in Jakarta, and wondering what to eat, nasi goreng is a safe bet, and a must eat when in Indonesia.

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