Saturday, July 20, 2013

Gado-Gado Bon Bin Cikini: Serving You Since 1960

They were around when Orde Lama changed to Orde baru.

A tweet from NatTravelerIndo streamed through my timeline this morning : "Cikini, Sudut Kota Lama Yang Terlupa."  Or in English : Cikini, The Forgotten Part of Old Town.

While that might rings true for the generation above me, I have just recently discovered this area through the beauty of food. Lontong Cap Go Meh Cikini was one of the rare find. This time, it's the joint nearby: Gado Gado Bon Bin.

Bon Bin was short for Kebon Binatang, the street name it's on before they changed it to Cikini IV. The place has been around for more than half a century and still maintains its classic beauty. Chinese incense on the beaten-worn-out walls. Wood tables and red chairs that resemble a typical home style Chinese restaurants. The half rounded ceilings. Most importantly the dynamic duo, Ngkoh Gado-Gado & Ncik Gado-Gado, one prepare the food, the other one handle the cash.

Ancient. (Taken w/ Samsung NX300)

One portion cost you IDR23k without lontong, and IDR25k with lontong. Three times the price of any street vendor gado-gado around the area. But I guess it's the premium people are willing to pay for nostalgia, brand, and taste.

Before. (Taken w/ Samsung NX300)

After. (Taken w/ Samsung NX300)

The first thing you'll notice is the softly grinded peanut sauce. Words on the street they use cashew nuts, thus the rich flavor that sets it apart from normal gado-gado. It was interesting at first, but after a while the lost of texture was too obvious. I will still opt for the much coarser sauce in usual gado-gado. Sorry, Koh. It did impress me, although not for long.

Better hygiene? At least less hand germs. (Taken w/ Samsung NX300)

The rest of the dish wasn't particularly superior in taste, but the fresh ingredients was very noticeable. It's another kind of hygiene level over here. One that would definitely not include hand germs.

Besides that, it is a very fulfilling portion eaten alone. I would suggest having it shared, and use the additional space in your belly to try the next door lontong cap go meh or asinan. If you're around the area, might as well.

Wanderbites Verdict: Somewhat fancier gado-gado. Cashew nut is a plus. Try for curiosity.

Until our next food safari,

Your fellow Ngkoh


Gado-Gado Bon Bin Foodporn Style. (Taken w/ Samsung NX300)

Gado-Gado Bon Bin
Jalan Cikini IV No. 5
(Formerly Jalan Kebon Binatang III)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Lontong Cap Go Meh : Cikini's Legend

Lontong = Rice Cake.

It is Google's literal translation of what it's made of, but I don't think it describe the features of this traditional Javanese dish fully. Lontong comes cylindrical in shape, usually wrapped with banana leaves, and steamed until the rices are mushy and somewhat cohesively sticky. It is the alternative for rice in many local dishes.

Lontong Cap Go Meh is one of the variety. It is a crossbreed of traditional Chinese and Javanese culture. It begins as must have dish after Chinese New Year celebration, now it has grown to be a popular menu in Indonesian restaurants. 

That particular afternoon I was bored with waroengs. There's a limit to the amount of scrambled eggs and tempe orek that you can force feed yourself. I called a break to the routine and decided to consult my Makan Sutra guide, the very first Indonesian version, written and curated by our own Arie Parikesit. I was lucky to be in Cikini area that afternoon. The stars were aligned right, it is as if the universe was conspiring to bring me to this place. Funny, I just happened to have a sudden craving for lontong cap go meh. Off I go to find Cikini IV. 

The Original Street Name (Taken w/ Samsung NX300)

The old skinny grandma greeted us in her weak little voice. Took the effort to get up from her station, brought the menu and asked what we would like to eat. I have a sense she's been around on that chair for years, if not from the very beginning when they put the original store sign. Yes, this joint has celebrated its 50th anniversary years ago. You can imagine the amount of nostalgic story Jakartans can relate to here. 

As for me, it was my first encounter, and I must admit it was a pleasant one. 

Halfway in preparation. (Taken w/ Samsung NX300)

A plateful of Legendary Lontong Cap Go Meh - IDR35K (Taken w/ Samsung NX300)

The lontong was everything I ever expected of. Rich sayur lodeh, flavorful tempe orek, juicy chicken breast, spicy telor pindang, and beef empal. Generous toppings for IDR 35k. 

The only setback for me was the broth which I personally think could be a bit more thicker and creamier. I guess I can blame the rise of gas price for their attempt to cut cost and therefore bet on the somewhat more inferior broth. The rest of the plate was delightful. Still funny to have acar hidden underneath the pile of food. And the irony is no matter how hard I tried to run, I eventually came across eggs and tempe orek again here. You two just love me that much, eh? That's okay. I have enough love for everybody. 

Lessons Learned
A well attempted variety killer I must conclude. I guess it is necessary to go out of the monotonous day-to-day activities once in a while. I personally think routine is counterproductive to creativity. We need a bolt of newness, a dash of salt if you always have sweet, a little rain in a long summer stream. Something to get us off our comfort zone. For me it can be as simple as new food. It allows us to feel again and eventually trigger new things in our synapses, resulting in fresh ideas and many good ripple effects. 

Ah, I'm blabbering. I. Must. Stop. 

Until next food safari,

Fellexandro Ruby 
Food Photographer & Storyteller


Opor Ayam. Tempe Orek. Lodeh. Empal. Generous (Taken w/ Samsung NX300)

Lontong Cap Go Meh 
Jl. Cikini IV No. 1

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Koultoura Coffee : Power Brunch on a Lazy Saturday.

It's Saturday.

The sun is playing hide-and-seek amongst the clouds. The clouds looks awfully bored in pale grey and broke white. No little drops of water from above, but the residual cold atmosphere is enough to keep you glued to bed. If you could you would put Bruno Mars' Lazy Song as the morning's soundtrack, but then again, you're just too lazy to do that.

You go back to lala-land for another hour or two until your belly growls for food.
Too late for breakfast, too early for lunch. It is the perfect time for yet another power brunch.


Koultoura is my new destination for brunch after Antipodean.

A new joint in Taman Ratu, Jakarta Barat sets itself apart from its surroundings. It creates a world of its own, really. From the facade that brings fresh color to the neighborhood, to the sort of food it offers. From its sophisticated hang-on-the-wall water purifier to the geeky-level coffee. It's almost as if it packed in a whole new culture to shine, just like the name suggest. This place bleeds hipster, coffee, and passion.

I had The Hangover Cure (IDR 45k) and Croque Madam (IDR 45k) as recommended by the cheerful lady behind the counter, Kinsky.

Hang Over Cure (IDR 45K) - Taken w/ Samsung NX300

Croque Madam (IDR 45k) - Taken w/ Samsung NX300

Both dish were surprisingly enjoyable and we didn't need any flavor enhancement of any sort. No salt, no chili sauce, no pepper. It was all in good balance for our palate. My hash-corned beef-egg was a treat, the only complain was the rather small size. On the other side of the table, my belle looked like taking quite a delight on the rack of burnt toast, melted cheese, ham and poached eggs. Plus point: the home made looking bunch of wedges / fries. Minus point: it gets mushy real quick.

Life's a Journey Indeed. - Taken w/ Samsung NX300

Don't you just love the cups? (Taken w/ Samsung NX300)

On the drinks, I would recommend its Ice Chocolate (IDR 25k) if you're a sweet tongue. The Chai Latte that we had was worth trying too, although le belle did mentioned it wasn't as strong a 'chai latte' as she preferred. She likes it bold. A little longer on brewing the chai would easily solve it out though.


The big question: Would I come back to Koultoura?
Answer: Hell yeas, in fact I'm going back there today. ;)

Sunlight & Shades. Love this corner right here. (Taken w/ Samsung NX300)

I personally enjoy the energy of this place. I can imagine sitting in one corner, catching up on my readings, or working on one of my blog post. It sorts of feed you with enough creative trigger as well. The artworks spread all over the walls, the magazine selection, and most importantly the choice of songs. Rest assured, no Sabrina here.

More than a brunch place, this could easily be my work spot. Try it, and let me know what you think on Twitter @wanderbites.


Food & Travel Storyteller / Photographer

Koultoura Coffee
Jl. Taman Ratu Raya Blok AA2 No. 33
(If you can find Saung Greenville, you can find this near the Pizza Hut)
Ph: 021-29520310
T: @Koultoura

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