The Jakarta Post
Indonesians love noodles. Locally known as 'bakmi' or 'mie', you can find a plethora of noodle places across the country, especially in Jakarta. (JP/Jessicha Valentina)
If you happen to be a fan of bakmi or mie (noodles), you may have heard of Tirta Lie.
Dubbed Jakarta’s noodle expert, Tirta kicked off his bakmi adventure in 2011 when he visited a myriad of noodle places for breakfast after cycling.
Tirta then recorded his journey on a blog and slowly caught the attention of fellow noodle lovers.
Fast forward to 2019, the serial bakmi eater has sampled noodles from more than 1,000 places, received an award from the Indonesian Museum of Records (MURI) and hosted several food festivals across Jakarta.
The Jakarta Post caught up with Tirta recently. As he just released the 2018 Tirta Lie’s Five Stars award, Tirta brought us to some of his favorite places located in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta.
“The restaurant needs to meet various requirements, such as taste and service. I have the data and it’s also voted by the customers,” shared Tirta, explaining how he determined the restaurants that went into his list.
Curious? Below is the list of Tirta Lie’s favorite bakmi places.
Our first destination was Bakmi Mipolo in Kelapa Gading shopping mall, North Jakarta.
Established in 2016, the small noodle joint is actually a part of Yen Pao, a famous bakpao (Chinese buns) seller.
Tirta said that Bakmi Mipolo was the only halal noodle place on the 2018 Tirta Lie's Five Stars award list.
“They have also acquired the MUI Halal Certification,” added Tirta.
Without further ado, we tried the restaurant’s signature noodles, namely bakmi original, bakmi pedas (spicy) and bakmi yamien (noodles in sweet sauce) and were impressed upon discovering that it had ramen-like texture.
“The secret lies in [the bakpao],” said Tirta.
Since the family has been producing bakpao for years, they know exactly the right flour and water formula.
Chandra, the owner of Bakmi Mipolo, said, “It’s influenced by yakisoba or dry ramen.”
The texture was not the only thing that stole our hearts. Bakmi Mipolo also adds other secret ingredients in each dish, such as cakalang (Manadonese diced tuna mixed with spices) for the spicy noodles and mushroom sauce for bakmi yamien, resulting in tantalizing unique flavors.
Where: Food Hall, Mall Kelapa Gading 3, Jl Boulevard Raya, Kelapa Gading
Pangsit Mie & Lemper Special 168
“This restaurant has received a Tirta Lie Approved certificate and it offers halal bakmi with beef [toppings],” Tirta told the Post prior to arriving at Pangsit Mie & Lemper Special 168.
In addition to beef toppings, Pangsit Mie & Lemper Special 168 also serves noodles topped with chicken, mushroom and cashew nuts.
“Out of the 1,000 places [I visited], this is the only restaurant that serves noodles with cashew nuts,” said Tirta.
We were not disappointed with Tirta’s recommendation. The beef noodles are available with two types of toppings, namely beef tendon and beef tripe. Both were cooked for hours, resulting in tender meats.
Meanwhile, the special noodles offered a combination of sweet and savory flavors.
In addition to the noodles, Tirta said that the restaurant was known for its lemper ayam special. Weighing 150 grams each, the giant lemper was chock-full of shredded chicken, making it a must-try filling snack.
Where: Jl. Gading Elok Raya Utara, Blok FA2 No. 7
If toppings are important to you, then you may want to schedule a visit to Bakmi Holiaw on Jl. Kelapa Kopyor Raya.
Established by Ricky Ronaldi, Stephanus Riawan and Herman, the eatery offers noodles with a variety of toppings, including salted steamed chicken, roasted pork belly, char siew (sliced barbecue pork), meatballs and more.
“We try to serve all the dishes that you’d typically find in noodle and nasi campur (Chinese mixed rice) restaurants,” said Herman.
In addition to the toppings, Bakmi Holiaw also serves different types of noodles, such as bakmi karet (chewy noodles), bakmi kecil (small noodles) and even the keto-friendly low-carb noodle shirataki.
During our visit, we tried three types of noodles, including Bruce Lee that had complete toppings, comprising pork satay, roasted pork belly, char siew and more.
Although it seemed a lot, each topping was cooked to perfection, creating an enjoyable eating experience.
Where: Jl. Kelapa Kopyor Raya No. 14
Mie Benteng is another of Tirta’s favorite bakmi place in Kelapa Gading.
Located a stone’s throw away from Bakmi Holiaw, the restaurant serves noodles with a touch of Tangerang flavors.
The restaurant’s coowner Martinus Triyono shared that his family came from Tangerang, Banten.
“In [Tangerang], Indonesians of Chinese descent are called Cina Benteng. We created Mie Benteng Asli Tangerang, meaning that the noodles are made by Indonesians of Chinese descent from Tangerang,” he said.
In regard to toppings, Mie Benteng also gets creative by offering different types of dishes.
“Mix 5 has the most complete toppings, comprising minced chicken, crispy chicken, minced pork, crispy pork belly and char siew,” said Martinus, adding that the toppings were created to cater for those who wanted more than one single topping.
Mie Benteng’s chef Dion Wijaya said they also served popular dishes from Tangerang, such as nasi campur with lapchiong (pork sausage), cu kiok (pork feet) and bakut sayur asin (pork ribs with salted vegetables).
While the noodles were undoubtedly delicious, the side dishes, such as bakut sayur asin and sate babi manis (sweet pork satay), were among the reasons to revisit Mie Benteng.
The pork ribs were tender and they mixed well with the refreshing salted vegetables. Meanwhile, the pork satay came with an appetizing fragrant aroma of the spices. With one bite, you would discover it's rich in spices and had a perfect combination of sweet and savory.
Where: Jl. Kelapa Kopyor Raya No. 22
Baji Pamai is not a new kid on the block. Specializing in Ujung Padang-style pangsit mie (noodles with dumplings), the shop has received Tirta Lie’s Five Stars award for three consecutive years.
The noodles are quite simple as they only comprise char siew and wonton. However, it has one of the best chewy textures and the size is thicker than other noodles.
Baji Pamai’s president director Tedy Wikarsa said that they made the noodles from scratch and took pride in producing clean noodles.
“You can see from the color,” he said, referring to the noodles’ clean white color.
Meanwhile, Tirta said that the noodles were made without coloring, preservatives and alkaline water.
“It’s safe to eat every day,” added Tirta. (wng)
Where: Jl Boulevard Raya Blok FVI/29-31