Someone Needs to Write a Book
A book about food in Jakarta for the interested traveller. The problem isn’t that such a book doesn’t exist at all, it’s that the books that do exist are geared towards the wrong type of consumer. I was checking out books yesterday at a Periplus bookstore, and they were all geared towards rich Western expats. I.e., about 90 percent of these books were things like "The Best Bars in Jakarta" and which of about a billion upscale Chinese restaurants in big frosty airconditioned malls are the best. What I want is a book about regular restaurants and street food that tourists never get to. There is a book called Makansutra which is supposed to do this, but I can’t find it anywhere.
Part of the reason for this demand of mine is that I’m coming to realize that my normal advice ("eat where all the locals eat") is not really very good sometimes. I followed a crowd yesterday to a big sprawling restaurant called Bakmi Gajah Mada which specializes in meatballs and noodles. It was fine, but certainly not great. I think that this was a post-church crowd, given that it was Sunday at noon and there were whole families everywhere. At any rate, eating where the locals eat isn’t always the best advice. It’s like if you came to the US and wanted to eat where the locals ate, you would rarely end up at a place like Louie’s Lunch in New Haven or Arthur Bryant’s in Kansas City; you’d be much more likely to end up at a Wendy’s or an Appleby’s. So I want a resource that clues me in to the best local cuisine. If I could find the Makansutra Indonesia version, maybe this would work, but no one seems to be able to find it.
This isn’t the hugest deal, as I am familiar with enough local restaurants to sate myself and am happy to try random street food from time to time. But I don’t want to miss out on undiscovered secrets. One of the places that JM and I really liked, a place called Waroeng Menteng that used to serve traditional West Javanese (Sundanese) food, has disappeared. Bummer. So for now I’m occupying myself by searching the internet for good places. Sometimes you get good results: although these are from Malaysia, the chain is the same, and I’ve always wanted try polygamy juice.