There’s always a story about how I encountered restaurants and its dishes and everything about it. This particular story about how I found RM Pak Slamet is probably among the most dramatic I’ve ever had. Not only that RM Pak Slamet is located far in the northern side of Jakarta but this restaurant has merits rarely found anywhere else!
It took about a couple of months until I finally set out my foot for this place. I’ve been several times around Tanjung Priok for several errands and dear oh dear, it’s something that I would not want to experience again. Yeah, you know the drill about traffic in the city, but on the northern side of Jakarta near the city’s port, everything’s a mess. Heavy traffic, roads in bad condition and occasionally flooding, huge trailers everywhere blocking your sight and slow down your speed a lot, and people literally suffocated with dust and dirt.
But then I went off to this newly-found land, the uncharted map, the one space that stirs both fear and excitements, but I came with a very good intention and resolution. The only suitable access would be from the JORR highway, the outermost highway network that encircles Jakarta, and Cilincing is located on the northern end of it.
It was not without trials and tribulations even though the traffic was almost non-existent on the highway on that particular sunny Saturday, because when I finally reached the end of the road, traffic that includes huge trailers and trucks welcomed me right away. Luckily though, it was caused by several turnarounds and my little car sneaked out of the trouble only to find another trouble.
“Now where’s that restaurant?”, I asked myself. Well, I was supposed to turn right on the last intersection but the barriers hindered me to do so, but luckily I found a turnaround and immediately head east to Jalan Cilincing Raya.
After almost 1 km searching for the restaurant on the left side carefully, because if we caught unaware then turning around would be a disaster because the road was not that big but the traffic was lethal, then somebody hailed us and turned out to be the parking attendant of the restaurant! That’s actually something because the guy seemed to be very confident that cars passing by around the restaurant will be actually coming in to dine. I guess that owes to the fame gathered for the past three decades enjoyed by the restaurant.
The restaurant itself is pretty simple and appears more like your usual employees canteen but they made it neat enough for customers to sit down and enjoy their food with ease. It was around 11.30 but not longer than half an hour, customers poured in and it became quite full all of a sudden. I imagine that it’s always full-house especially during weekdays where everybody from workers to bosses come in here for lunch.
Kepala ikan kakap or the red snapper’s head curry is the signature dish and stood out in price among other stereotypical lunch dishes for workers such as grilled fish, grilled chicken, and other beauties that we really love. Anyway, Pak Slamet himself handpicked all the red snapper’s head on Angke seafood market every two days and takes care of them all himself. One must not neglect how important the role of Pak Slamet as not only that he cooks everything, including his very delicious sambal, but he also involves himself in taking care of customers also and that includes clearing up tables! Never before I see a real owner of a restaurant is willing to go down and take care of trivial things. That’s just great.
Speaking about the dishes, well the kepala kakap is definitely the rock star! My wife particularly, really picks food that she likes only and the idea about having the red snapper’s head literally would be something that she couldn’t have imagined before. I guarded the secret until we really arrived at the restaurant and gave her a good culture shock. At first she was hesitated but I continued to convince her that the fish was actually delicious and she bought that honestly. Bottom line is, we finished the huge head together with huge joy!
The fish had no sign of fishy smell and was cooked masterfully. It might be tricky for first-timers to eat it but when you know how to really enjoy it, it’s indeed very enjoyable! The curry that Pak Slamet made was tantalizingly balanced but rich, not to mention again that the sambal was divine. Later on, I took home its famed sayur asam and amazed me as well. The difference is that the usual sayur asam emphasizes the sour taste but Pak Slamet’s version has more of the savory type which was really okay for me.
Although it took us like about 50 km just to go there and return back only for the kepala ikan kakap, it was really worth it. I sensed the spirit of Pak Slamet for bringing what’s best for his customers and that kinda reminds me about how Jiro does also the same thing. I do, wholeheartedly, really looking forward again to visit the place again someday and also looking forward if they finally open up a new store just nearby as I heard that there’s a plan to do so. It might be tricky to keep up with the standard but with Pak Slamet’s qualities, I have no doubt at all.
RM PAK SLAMET
Some menu suitable for vegetarians
Address: Jalan Cilincing no. 6, Jakarta – Indonesia
Opening hours: Mon – Sat, 8 am – 3 pm
Atmosphere: Your usual office canteen but with good food!
Ambiance: Noisy from the traffic of trailers outside and my car suddenly full of dust. Now I wonder if these debris came in as well, RM Pak Slamet better invest for a shade or anything to keep the dust and dirt away from the inner part of the restaurant.
Service: Pak Slamet himself often takes care of everything! What more can you ask?
Must eat: Kepala kakap, grills, sayur asam and sambal
Spend: IDR 20,000 – IDR 75,000 / person