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Savoring Betawi delicacies at an old-school Jakarta eatery

Good Indonesian Food
Good Indonesian Food

Preserve and Promote Indonesian Cuisine

Jakarta  /  Wed, December 7, 2016  /  08:38 am
Savoring Betawi delicacies at an old-school Jakarta eatery

Lontong Sayur (rice cakes in coconut milk soup with vegetables) at Rumah Baba (Good Indonesian Food/File)

Although the Betawi people are the indigenous ethnic group of Jakarta, it is perhaps saddening and bizarre that there are more Padang restaurants in the Big Durian than those that serve authentic Betawi cuisine.

But thank your lucky stars that we still have Rumah Baba. Founded by Ali Reza, this must-visit eatery once called Senopati its home before relocating to Cipete.

With a facade that has all the hallmarks of your traditional green-colored Betawi dining establishment, its windows are decorated with menu items that are offered by Rumah Baba. Even the waiting staff are dressed up in customary Betawi Abang and None get-ups. Its home-style Betawi cooking was inspired by its owner’s history of being presented with Betawi food by his true-blue Betawi parents since he was a little boy.

Its photogenic interior sports round wooden chairs that are uniquely Betawi, with old film posters pasted on its walls. In one corner of the shop is a display that holds various cigarettes from across the country that you might have never heard of.

(Read also: Gado-gado, soto Betawi recognized as 'intangible cultural heritage)

Rumah Baba’s menu is the real deal if you’re looking for a spot of Betawi food, which includes the likes of kerak telor (spicy omelette), nasi uduk (steamed rice cooked in coconut milk with side dishes), nasi kuning (yellow rice), soto Betawi (Betawi beef soup), pecak gurame (grilled gourami with peanut sambal), bir pletok (a traditional Betawi beverage with herbs and spices) and more. I opted for the favorite lontong sayur (rice cakes in coconut milk soup with vegetables). Before it was served I was slightly concerned about the taste of the soup though; would it be bland or too dense?

Its sizable portion was a plus point in my book. Served with chayote, tahu bacem (sweet marinated tofu), telur bacem (sweet marinated egg), fried shallots and crackers, my worries soon disappeared once I had a sip of its flavorful broth. The smooth rice cakes were a delight to bite, while the tahu bacem was a sweet success on my taste buds. You can also add some sambal (chili) to cater to your spiciness preference.

I’d definitely recommend Rumah Baba and its nostalgia-inducing ambiance for those who are on the hunt for some good Betawi fare. (kes)

Explore more about Indonesian cuisine here.

Where: Jl. Cipete Raya No. 7A, Fatmawati, South Jakarta

Contact: 021 769 9205

Opening hours: Open daily from 11 a.m.-  10 p.m.

Price: Rp 60,000 (US$4.50) per person

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.