The Jakarta Post
A portion of rendang at Simay restaurant. (Kompas/Sri Anindiati Nursari)
Rendang has stolen the world’s attention after CNN announced it as the "World’s Most Delicious Food". In Indonesia, the dish is very popular all across the country and can be found at any Padang restaurant. The dish, which originated in Padang, a city in West Sumatra, is known for its deep and succulent flavor of beef simmered in thick coconut milk and rich spices.
In Jakarta, the nomination for the restaurant with the best rendang may go to Warung Simay, which has won several cooking competitions, as reported by kompas.com.
Warung Simay, headquartered in Tanah Abang and operating two branches in West Palmerah and North Palmerah, received its first award in December 25, 2011, when the restaurant joined the Minang Food Festival held by UPTD Anjungan Sumbar TMII.
“There were 100 people in the competition, including Sederhana and Simpang Jaya (two famous Padang restaurants in Jakarta). Thankfully, we came out as the first winner,” Meyyulis, owner of Simay restaurant, told kompas.com. At that time, May presented three dishes, namely rendang, beef jerky and sampadeh (spicy-sour) fish.
One year later, she won the title ‘The Best in Migrant Category’ representing Jakarta in Rendang Padang Festival, that was held at Sumbar Cultural Park in Padang, West Sumatra.
Meyyulis' rendang has a bolder, spicier flavor and deeper reddish color. For the beef, she prefers the cow’s upper thigh, known as coconut beef, which has become her signature.
“It is the hardest part to be processed. If using that part for rendang, the beef can be torn apart, but mine can't. That is the difference,” said May.
Another standout food of hers is her beef jerky. May said her jerky is not tough, but crispy like crackers.
“I fry it twice, using special coconut oil,” she said.
She explained that the secret to her cooking lay in the spices. All her food is cooked using only spices produced from one kitchen.
“Nowadays there are a lot of Padang restaurants that use instant seasoning. I use an original recipe passed down to me,” May said.
May started her business in the early 1980s selling ketupat Padang (Padang rice cakes) in Tanah Abang. In 1982 she decided to open a Padang restaurant, cooking rendang using her mother’s secret recipe.
“My father is originally from Batusangkar, and my mother is from Pariaman. The dishes served in the restaurant are the result of the acculturation from the two places,” May said.
Aside from rendang, there is also gajebo curry, goat curry and fish sampade.
During Ramadan, Simay will open daily for iftar before dusk until there's no more food to be sold. “We'll close when the food is finished,” May said. (asw)
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