Quietly and calmly, Miranda has witnessed the decades pass by, offering the best bestik recipes to its patrons. It not only offers good steak, it’s also a haven for those who want a slice of nostalgia.
Timeless! That’s how one would describe Miranda, one of Jakarta’s oldie restaurants located in Jalan Besuki – Menteng. Although in many parts the restaurant has aged and appears shabby, it’s owners have decided to keep it this way, because they think preserving the interior and structure is good for their business.
Every time I enter Miranda, I can’t help but feel transported to the Indonesian of the 1970s and 1980s. It is reminiscent of the movie scenes featuring my favorite franchise of Warkop DKI. It does feel nostalgic whenever I’m surrounded with this kind of atmosphere – a family restaurant with old furniture, long wooden tables for six made from rattan, alfresco dining space under an old tin roof and during dinner time, a solo keyboard player to entertain the patrons. It does feel a bit romantic somehow, experiencing a time gone by.
I recently met Madame Louise, a charming lady who runs the business and a well-mannered person whom everyone adores. She spared some time to sit with me and tell the story of how it all started, despite the fact that she’s needed badly behind the cashier counter to run the business.
“After our first restaurant in Semarang, my parents moved to Jakarta and opened this place in 1969”, said Madame Louise to start the story. “My mom had been well-known for her bestik recipe which she’s probably inherited from some Dutch connections”. Bestik is actually a version of steak popular in Europe before and brought and popularized by the Dutch. The real difference is that nothing is actually grilled, like for example in one version that Miranda adapts is the use of boiled beef tongue poured with savory Dutch-style thick brown sauce with onions and mushrooms, served with French fries, carrots, beans, and cauliflower.
“We also serve other bestik made from chicken, prawn, snapper, and the German style beef schnitzel”, Madame Louise added. It’s all very classic looking and frankly, will whet your appetite from how it looks. The consistency is highly admirable as from time to time since I never experience a difference in taste and presentation.
Miranda also serves Chinese and Indonesian dishes as well. It’s rare to taste something aside from the bestik whenever I’m here but I do have to admit that Miranda makes a formidable sop buntut (oxtail soup) and tahu telor (fried tofu with eggs and served with bean sprouts, cabbage and sweet soy sauce with bird-eye’s chilies) as well.
“Formerly, Miranda was known as Tan Goei – a combination of my mother and father’s names, but during the New Order regime, businesses had to change their names into something Indonesian. We went with the name Miranda until now, but we always put the real name beside it to make the customers aware”, Madame Louise said. “Business may be hard sometimes but I am grateful because we run an honest business and we’re proud of our journey until this point. I have no plans so far to alter anything I inherited from my parents”, said Madame Louise when asked about the future of Miranda.
I can now comprehend why the owners of old food businesses want just retain the look and feel of their old restaurants or bakeries. It’s simply because they want to be remembered just the way they are and it’s indeed precious to hear people say, “How timeless the restaurant is!” or “It’s always a blast from the past coming here!”
Nothing indeed, could ever replace the memories from the past, especially when it comes to something romantic and involves great food from an old kitchen. That’s how I see it from Miranda and the decades long history it holds.
MIRANDA (TAN GOEI)
Halal-friendly (self-claimed halal, but there may be use of mirin for the Chinese dishes)
Some menu are suitable for vegetarians
Jalan Besuki no. 1A, Jakarta – Indonesia
Mon-Sat, 9.30am – 11pm
Sun, 9.30pm – 3pm & 6pm – 11pm
Featured in THE FOODIE MAGAZINE March 2014 edition
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Photos by: Dennie Benedict