I arrived just in the nick of time before a heavy downpour at this famed hawker stall that has made Jalan Sabang popular. It was quite packed inside the tent as people quickly closed in to any available seats lest they be caught in the rain. I was famished and the strong aromas wafting from the large wok nearby did not help. I managed to secure a seat, and all that was left was to order the ‘infamous’ dish – Nasi Goreng Gila!
The word ‘gila’ literally means ‘crazy’ in English. Added at the end of nasi goreng as an adjective, it represents the crazy mixture of ingredients thrown into the ‘normal’ fried rice. These may include such items as meatballs, sliced sausage, fried egg, vegetables, chicken gizzards, shredded chicken, and even corned beef. This stir fried madness is served with emping crackers, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers.
Back to my rumbling tummy. Luckily, the deft hand of the man at the wok finished my order in no time. I was happy with how swiftly I was served, and by the time I tasted it, I must say, it was a tasty crazy mix. Although it may sound ridiculous to put all the ingredients into a single dish, but all that flavor simply ensure that people surely love it! The whole gila experience is cemented by how busy Jalan Sabang really is. It is packed with cars moving along, street musicians jumping from one hawker stand to another, and the noisy sound of bajaj passing by.
If you don’t feel like having nasi goreng, then try another quick stir-fry Chinese-style dishes such as noodles, vermicelli, or capcay (mixed vegetables) are there for you to choose. For hardcore fans of nasi goreng, plenty of selections aside from the gila version are also available.
I conversed with Noni, the proprietor’s daughter. She gladly told me the story of their humble beginnings. Her father, Pak Aji, used to work as an ice block seller around the neighborhood but one day decided to change the course of his destiny and join forces with a close friend to start the nasi goreng stall. Now years later, their stall is still there, serving a few hundred plates of nasi goreng a night, more on weekends.
The nasi goreng gila concept was actually began at the legendary hawker street around Taman Menteng. Inspired, they tried to make their own version. Surprisingly, they accidentally put the crazy mixture into the fried rice, and as the saying goes, the rest is history. The nasi goreng gila Sabang has turned into an iconic Jakarta dish, which has been there for more than a decade now. Many Jakartans know that if they want a quick comfort food whether they are headed home after work, or coming home from a late night out, they can always come to Jalan Sabang for a quick fix.
NASI GORENG GILA SABANG
Some menu are suitable for vegetarians
Address: Jalan H. Agus Salim (Sabang) – in front of Garuda Restaurant, Jakarta – Indonesia
Opening hours: Everyday, 6 pm – 4 am
Featured in THE FOODIE MAGAZINE December 2013 edition
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Photos by: Dennie Benedict