If anyone speaks about seafood in Indonesia, then it cannot be separated with what people love best – grilled fish or fried fish. In this issue, it’s time to visit Pak Ugi and his finest tilapias right on the heart of Kelapa Gading.
Living in the world’s biggest archipelago means that you have to eat seafood more every day. With the abundance of our frutti di mare, it’s easy to stop by at any given seafood shack on the side of the street or make way once in a while to splurge at a really good upscale restaurant for that. But the beauty of working with street food articles is to find the right place that goes with the right price.
In the case of Pak Ugi’s restaurant, it’s easy to get lost between the throng of shops and restaurants of Kelapa Gading. As an easy pointer for you, Pak Ugi’s restaurant can be found around a hundred meters after the roundabout from Mall Kelapa Gading on the left side.
Arriving at 2.30pm I was caught in awe with how they operated the business. In contrast with many other local small restaurants or even hawkers, the staffs at Pak Ugi’s were diligent in maintaining the cleanliness and the speed of service. The one man behind the grill was responsible of hundreds of tilapia, pomfret, or gourami every day but he did not neglect his work even for a couple of minutes and that’s how the service became so disciplined.
I always love the tilapia. With its moderate size, the flesh is plentiful and the bone structure was unlike other fish. The bigger bones gave out a good space for us to dig in with ease and that’s how I remembered how divine my visit to Bang Themmy’s back in Bandung last year.
That afternoon, I opted for the grilled tilapia and the fried version in butter sauce. The latter was the typical dish you will find in many Chinese restaurants although it is commonly applied to chicken or frog’s legs. Much to my surprise, it worked so well with the tilapia, thanks to the crispy skin and the rich, sweet and velvety butter sauce.
The grilled tilapia was also decent but quickly overshadowed by the qualities found with its fried counterpart. In spite of that, the sambal came as the rescuer. As praised by many, Pak Ugi’s sambal was not only fiery, but has that complex balance of flavors into it and the freshness coming out from the squeezed lime.
The quality that I witnessed was proven well with the price and that became an experience that cannot be traded anywhere else. Be sure to come by during odd hours to avoid queues, but if you happen to be that unlucky, I’d stay even for more than an hour to wait for seat!
IKAN NILA PAK UGI
Some dishes are suitable for vegetarians
Jalan Boulevard Raya Blok FX1 no. 1, Kelapa Gading, Jakarta – Indonesia
Daily, 11am – 10pm
Spend: IDR 50,000 – IDR 75,000 / person
Featured in THE FOODIE MAGAZINE Sept 2015 edition
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