It would be ungrateful even for someone like me who has visited this certain place, really content with the food, and still not writing about how cool the experiences were. Though appear modestly and owned by a person with humble personality, the experiences I had with this particular warung is what that reminds me during the heyday of my college years of having the best from hawkers – unsullied by time and modern stuffs. Can you believe that?
Ikan Bakar Nila Khas Padang or literally translated as Grilled Tilapia Fish with Padangnese Sauce is the signature dish from a warung owned by Bang Themmy that successfully sets a new, high standard for grilled fish dishes. With his Minang heritage and skillful cooking, he intertwines two critical aspects never fully realized before.
For the fish, he specifically chooses tilapia from his wife’s hometown of Subang in West Java. The streams around Subang have rapid currents and referring to a cousin of mine who excels in ecology, he said that the rapid currents help the fish to develop robust body with bigger bones which makes it easier for us to eat, unlike common carp for instance that has many small bones and proves to be challenging although it does have its own qualities. Of course, Bang Themmy provides three to four different size of tilapia in his warung to appease both your appetite and your wallet.
Usually Bang Themmy has already grilled it halfway and anytime a customer comes, he will only need to just grill it for a shorter period of time and brush the fish with his homemade bumbu kuning or a sauce made from a mixture of garlic, shallot, turmeric, galangal, ginger, chilies, coconut milk, and perhaps many others. Bang Themmy then served the fish with warm rice, boiled vegetables, and everyone’s favorite – sambal hijau or green chilies sambal.
His second time grilling technique appears easy but he does it carefully to maintain the right texture and moisturity. It’s a guaranteed squeaky clean plate for everyone who savors this beauty and I will always ask for more of those scrumptiously thick bumbu kuning or even a tambo ciek (“one more please!”)if my wife doesn’t realize it!
On the other hand, my wife is actually a very lucky lady because she used to experience Bang Themmy’s gulai itiak lado mudo or the Padang-style spicy duck with green chilies. However, Bang Themmy is a very idealistic cook and disappointing his customers with expensive pricing is out of option for him. The price of duck in the market, according to his wife, is currently very high and for the time being, this challengingly spicy dish will not be made available.
But the good thing is that he keeps on improvising with other stuffs from his Minang heritage. For instance during rainy season, he will try to find the freshest cassava leaves to promote his mom’s pucuak ubi tigo jam (three-hour steamed cassava leaves) dish. Bang Themmy only uses the finest part of the cassava leaves for this dish and then he steams them alongside Indonesian traditional herbs and of course, coconut milk.
‘My mother used to cook it for three hours with firewood, but now I am using the modern stove and it took only an hour’, said Bang Themmy. Although we all know that firewood uses more time and skills, you won’t be disappointed with the result as the dish became more fragrant and tastes differently in a good way. However, Bang Themmy’s skills were put in good use even though he uses the modern method as his steamed cassava leaves are of top-notch quality and you won’t find it anywhere else!
During my last visit, I was also given the honorable opportunity to taste his new creation of ayam pop (Bukittinggi-style fried chicken) and it was a very satisfying one as Bang Themmy successfully married the rich taste of the chicken with red chilies sambal filled with petai (stink beans). He never ceases to amaze everyone!
Only for a short period, he manages his original warung in Antapani area to become more spacious and homey. Not only that, another branch is now open nearby my house, but I still prefer to trust Bang Themmy’s personal touch for my ikan bakar.
Oh gosh, writing about this stuff makes me hungry already and misses Bandung already! If I were you, I’d go to Bandung right away and have that grilled fish for dinner!
IKAN BAKAR NILA KHAS PADANG – BANG THEMMY
Some menu suitable for vegetarians
Jalan Terusan Jakarta no. 280 (hawkers area), Bandung – Indonesia
Jalan Ciliwung (hawkers area), Bandung – Indonesia
Opening hours: Everyday, lunch & dinner
Spend: IDR 25,000 – IDR 30,000 / person
Jalan Terusan Jakarta HQ
Jalan Cimanuk Branch