The Jakarta Post
Getting in line: Customers queue for avocado drinks at the XploRasa Food Festival held at the Summarecon Mall Serpong until May 13. (Summarecon Mall Serpong/File)
From food-filled gigantic exhibition halls to multi-tent festivities in malls, we flock to culinary festivals with unabashed enthusiasm, disregarding the dulling coupon payments and suffocating number of fellow eaters.
The new XploRasa (a play on “explore” and “rasa” — Indonesian for “taste”) culinary festival in Summarecon Mal Serpong (SMS) is an extension of the mall’s already successful Festival Kuliner Serpong food event.
But while their other one (which will still continue) focuses on national meals from the Indonesian archipelago, this one features an array of street food and food truck choices. This mostly means a lot of original snack-type offerings from independent vendors or smaller food brands.
Running until May 13, the event will feature a host of relatively popular street food brands from around the country. These include the wet and spicy cracker delight of Seblak Wae Atuh; the noodles of Buckmee; the hip pork-focused offerings of Hoghock; the celebrity-endorsed presentations of the Kastera by Luna Maya and Martabucks by Luna Uya; the meat-drenched rice dish of Nasi Goreng Gila Gondrong Obama; as well as the current gelato trendiness of Legato Gelato — just to name a few.
Read also: Five 'martabak' to try in Jakarta
For fun: Visitors to the festival used special vouchers to buy meals at the XploRasa Food Festival held at the Summarecon Mall Serpong. (Summarecon Mall Serpong/File)
“I just like the opportunity to hang out with friends and eat a lot of jajanan […] It’s a nice atmosphere,” said Salmon Siahaan while munching on some fried octopus. Salmon said culinary festivals provided him and his family a chance to dine somewhere other than their usual restaurants.
The crowded venues and jostling are clearly part of the appeal. There’s a “fear of missing out” shared by the visitors, many of whom live in the surrounding residential area.
It is a challenge to make a truly different culinary festival, as vendors tend to jump onto whatever opportunities they get to hawk their food, so the trick is making each event a must-go occasion that simply cannot be missed.
“My neighbors and I go together to Festival Kuliner Serpong every year — It’s kind of a tradition. Sometimes we don’t even know what kind of food festival it is, but when everybody goes, then you go,” says Yolinda Rahmat, who lives a 10-minute drive away.
Willy Effendy, the mall’s center director said the festival’s concept was based around an “urban night market”, pointing to the “colorful tents” and the “industrial style decorations”.
Burn, baby burn: A cook prepares an omelet on direct heat at the XploRasa Food Festival held at the Summarecon Mall Serpong. (Summarecon Mall Serpong/File)
He pointed to the event’s 80 participating vendors — “all of which offer snacks that are very of-the-moment and currently adored by food enthusiasts”.
Willy said the event also provided small- and medium-sized food businesses a chance to promote their products.
XploRasa will also feature entertainment, this time in the form of musical guests such as JAZ, Saykoji, Rendy Pandugo and Midnight Quickie.
The promoters are heavily pushing the musical guests and visual angle to entice visitors.
“The decorations and artistic design here are definitely worth posting on social media,” said Willy. Cynical or not, it is hard not to view this as truth, as a short walk around the festival shows a bunch of people posing with particular eagerness alongside their next tasty treat.
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