Jakarta is the capital city of Indonesia and a place where you can find various individuals from across Indonesia and overseas. Indonesia’s motto, including Jakarta, is Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, which means “Unity in Diversity.” All people have brought their culinary customs and made the city an exciting place to eat. Perhaps due to this diversity, Jakarta’s cultural group, the Betawi, can get overlooked. However, the people, and their food, has influences well valuable noting.
Talking about Betawi, the origin of the Betawi goes back to Dutch colonialism in the 17th century. Betawi are a mixture of Sundanese, Javanese, Portuguese, Dutch, Arabs, Chinese, and other immigrants who came to Jakarta at the time, making them the latest formed ethnic group in Indonesia. Thus, their influences are essential. These diverse ethnic groups that the Betawi are composed of control of many aspects of Betawi traditions and conventional food.
There are many different variations of Betawi cuisines. Here’s what’s served in fine-dining restaurants. There is food made by street food sellers or “pedagang kaki lima” in Indonesian. Then there is the cuisine served in Indonesian-themed restaurants. The prices at Indonesian-themed restaurants usually are higher than street food sellers but not as expensive as fine-dining restaurants. For authentic Betawi cuisine, locals almost always advise that you avoid fine-dining restaurants and order one of these five best Betawi dishes.
- Kerak Telor
Kerak Telor is a spicy omelet dish. It is made with glutinous rice cooked with egg and seasoned with ginger, sugar, salt, and aromatic ginger. Kerak Telor usually served with dried shrimp, serundeng (fried shredded coconut), fried shallots on top. Back in the colonial era, these dishes were considered a privileged food that was just served to the colonial government and upper-class Betawi. Now, it’s regarded as a cheap snack and can be bought from street-food vendors.
- Asinan Betawi
Asinan Betawi is the Betawi’s version of a salad. It is made with carrots, tofu, cucumber, lettuce, pickled cabbage, and peanuts. These dishes are topped with a refreshing peanut, vinegar, and chili dressing. And it is also prepared with krupuk mie Kuning (yellow noodle crackers), which come from the Dutch.
- Soto Betawi
Soto Betawi is a beef soup with fried potatoes, offals, and tomato cooked in a cow’s milk or coconut milk. It is served with fried shallots, emping (fried chips made from Gnetum gnemon berry), lime, cucumber pickles, and chili on the side. White rice accompanies the dish typically.
- Nasi Uduk
Nasi Uduk is usually consumed for breakfast or dinner. Nasi Uduk (which translates to mixed rice) is rice cooked with coconut milk seasoned with cinnamon, ginger, pepper, nutmeg, and lemongrass. This rice is often served alongside fried tofu, chicken, fried egg, dried tempeh (fermented soybean cake). Nasi Uduk is also served pre-packed in a banana leaf. Do not forget to add chili, the must-have in almost every Indonesian dish.
- Mie Kangkung
Mie Kangkung is a chicken noodle soup made out of kangkung (water spinach), shredded chicken, and yellow egg noodles. It is served in a thick sauce made with tapioca and chicken or beef broth seasoned with garlic and sweet soy sauce. Mie Kangkung generally served with a sprinkling of fried shallots on top and chili on the side, even though some areas add bean sprouts, meatballs, and mushrooms.
Ready to do culinary in Jakarta and trying all the dishes above? Before you go to Jakarta, be sure to explore more about Jakarta and Indonesia by visiting Wonderful Indonesia.