Preserve and Promote Indonesian Cuisine
Meatball soup at Pusat Jajan Cemplon. (Good Indonesian Food/File)
Due to the number of office buildings in the area, it is no surprise that one can find a multitude of eateries in Setiabudi in South Jakarta – including those that serve Western, Asian and Indonesian food – inside the air-conditioned confines of a shopping mall or by the roadside. If you’re in the vicinity on a culinary hunt, you might just come across a place called Cemplon.
Found right across from SMA 3 Setiabudi high school, the place can be rather invisible to the naked eye as it is housed in a normal dwelling place. Thank goodness, then, for the large signboard saying “ATM BNI” and another smaller one with the joint’s name on it that are placed in front of the establishment.
Upon entrance, it was as if I had found a cozy port in a storm. Besides being known as a spot for lunch, Pusat Jajan Cemplon can also be your new favorite hangout – especially with the rattan chairs and wall sockets for those who may want to go about their own work here.
So, what does cemplon actually mean? According to owner Ibu Pudjiati, it is loosely translated as “a young girl who loves to snack”. It was founded in 2009, which was a year after Ibu Pudjiati had opened Mbah Jingkrak. While it once featured a Balinese theme to its decor and ambiance, it now presents a rather musical concept, which can be seen from the wall decorations to the plastic place mats, as well as the songs that we all know too well blasting from the radio.
What makes this place unique is the bakso (meatball) pushcart inside that is used to cater to visitors who order mie ayam (chicken noodles), bakso and bakwan Malang (fried wonton with tofu, noodles and meatballs in soup). On the tables are small containers filled with gorengan (fritters) and sate telur puyuh (quail egg satay) that can be devoured as is or combined with other dishes. Apart from noodles and meatballs, you could also find a variety of nasi goreng (fried rice) choices, rice with fried or grilled chicken, roti bakar (toast), es krim goreng (fried ice cream), chicken katsu (breaded deep-fried chicken cutlet), nasi sop iga (beef rib soup with rice), pempek (fried fishcake) and cap cay (stir-fried vegetables) here.
The sweltering heat of the afternoon prompted me to order a glass of es teh lemon (iced lemon tea) to rejuvenate my throat as I waited for my two dishes to be prepared: bakso Cemplon (Cemplon meatballs) and siomay (steamed dumplings). Comprising a bowl of meatballs with rice vermicelli, yellow noodles, a piece of egg, meatballs and two smaller sized meatballs, the bakso was quite savoury despite its rather overly stiff texture. Alas, the broth tasted a bit bland so I did not manage to finish it. The fish flavor of the siomay was rather prominent, while the peanut sauce was flavorful and a tad spicy. However, I believe it would have tasted even better if it was served hot.
Interestingly, Pusat Jajan Cemplon is offering a partnership deal with business companies. With only an e-mail sent to [email protected] and a scanned business card copy, every single employee of a company that has already registered will be able to get a 10 percent discount when eating here by just showing your company ID card. A very attractive arrangement indeed. (kes)
Category: Beef, fish
Jl. Setiabudi 2, No. 19, Setiabudi, South Jakarta
Contact: 021 3218 9791
Open Sunday to Friday, 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. (closed on Saturdays)
Rp 50,000 (US$3.70) per person
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.