Tag Archives: Historic

How It Was Started: The Sandwich!

Mungkin banyak yang bertanya-tanya asal mulai roti tangkap isi sayur dan daging itu asalnya bagaimana sih. Nah rupanya itu berawal dari seorang bangsawan hedonis asal Inggris yang digelari Earl of Sandwich.

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Video is courtesy of TED-ED

The Classics: Bandoengsche Melk Centrale (FoodieS, Mar 2016)

Follow us as we trace return to the olden days where Bandung became the center of the whole Indonesia, known for its milk and butter produced by its foremost proponent – Bandoengsche Melk Centrale.

There is probably only one in Indonesia so far, a milk producer with a long history, decades before the independence day of the country and still exists until now.

Bandoengsche Melk Centrale (BMC) came all the way since 1928 and became the country’s first and foremost milk producer – starting since the Dutch colonial era, imperial Japanese, and now privatized by Indonesian government.

Like coffee, the existence of milk in Indonesia came from the Dutch colonialists. Only this time, it was the South African Boers who came all the way here and settled themselves on the heights of Lembang – a highly suitable terrain to start dairy farming.

The effort was supported by the colonial government, which in turn imported cows from Frisia, a province in The Netherlands known traditionally for its dairy products. Even as of today, the crossover breed between cows from Frisia and Schleswig-Holstein in Germany retains its reputation as world’s most productive dairy cattle.

Of all the dairy farms in Lembang back on those days until this very day, they distribute the dairy products freshly on regular basis to Bandoengsche Melk Centrale.

Traditionally pasteurized and sterilized, the milk has since become the initial flavor for mainly the citizens of Bandung. The company enjoyed its heyday during colonial government era and it was known to many that the current BMC director of that period boasted the importance of BMC for the whole Dutch Indies or one would prefer the name as Nusantara nowadays.

However, the turbulent times came ahead since the Japanese took over the control of Indonesia. It was even recorded that the early years of Indonesian government marked the declining era of BMC. Left as it is, BMC had to survive with old equipments and limited resources until it finally went into “coma” for around two decades.

My recent visit was of course, very nostalgic. Remembering my childhood and my college days visiting this place evokes a lot of memories. There’s always a heartwarming sensation whenever I paired a glass of iced sweetened fresh milk with toast or French fries and sausage. It’s the same ritual that my family used to do whenever we visited this place back then or any milk cafes in Lembang.

Today, the menu lineup of BMC becomes more formidable than ever. The decades spent on perfecting the milk came to realization with immense selections like this. If you are up for the sourest taste and with more health benefits, BMC also has the kefir.

If you are the traditionalists, then you should opt for the plain milk or yogurt. However, the best choice that I made last time was the grape yogurt with homemade vanilla ice cream and it was such a divine choice to accompany the nibbles.

In the end, it was ultimately the long legacy of the business that saves the day. BMC has been reorganized several times until now and it remains Bandung’s pride and joy as an establishment that encompasses more than just milk and yogurt. It is also a place to enjoy local fares, coffee, and also as a bakery.


Suitable for vegetarians

Jalan Aceh no. 30, Bandung – Indonesia

T: +62.22.420.4595

Opening hours: Daily, 10am – 10.30pm



Featured in FOODIES Mar 2016 edition

Jakarta’s Hidden Gem – Kopi Es Tak Kie (mise en place, Vol 13 – 2015)

Gloria Alley – thriving and yet hidden from sight and currently facing the increasingly modernised surroundings. Yet, foodies don’t miss a beat when it comes to the heart of the alley where Kopi Es Tak Kie is located.

The coffee shop itself is timeless. As rustic as it may seem, the establishment is well-managed and frequented by many especially during lunchtime. Even though the operational hours are odd since Tak Kie only opens until 2pm, but people would visit from early morning for their daily caffeine intake and hearty meals.


Letting the coffee out of the equation for now, the alley conceals some of the most ingenious food from the Chinese residents who have been around for generations. Its duck curry noodles, chicken rice, nasi tim (steamed rice mixed with chicken and egg), gado-gado (vegetables salad with peanut sauce dressing), or the exotics like sekba (pork innards soup) and even pi oh (soft shell tur tle soup) are the main attractions since its beginnings.

Our host for that day, Mr Akwang, is the third generation co-owner. His grandfather, Mr Liong Tjoen, started this venture as a street side vendor in 1927 and offered only tea that time for the customers. In 1929, Mr Liong Tjoen settled down at this very venue and the legacy continues until now. The increasing popularity that Tak Kie has been enjoying since it was relocated permanently to Gloria Alley brought them in terms with what their customers want. “Thus the time began for us to switch into coffee. What defines us is always in line with the demands – including the food here”, says Mr Akwang.

BS_Article06_3Tak Kie’s decision to enter coffee was probably the best call ever. It has since known as one of few Jakarta’s prototypes of coffee shops. But judging from how it looks, it also cannot be compared directly with stereotypical kopitiams. Despite its Chinese influences, there’s a huge difference in the way Tak Kie brews its coffee and the types of food served there. “Since early morning, we have brewed our coffee and will reheat it upon order. For the iced coffee, we only need to add ice cubes and optionally milk”, continues Pak Akwang.

Despite this rather unorthodox method, it actually works well. Somehow Tak Kie manages to negate the conclusion that freshly brewed coffee should come from freshly ground beans. It works well this way and even for the discerning, the iced milk coffee goes extraordinarily well. As an exchange to what we would expect coming from the usual kopitiam with its soft-boiled eggs and kaya toast, Tak Kie serves its customers heavy meals – such as congee, nasi tim, and nasi campur. “People wanted something more fulfilling”, says Pak Akwang laughing.

That’s Kopi Tak Kie for you to visit. Jakarta owes it a lot to this humble coffee shop and it remains still in the hearts of both the older and younger generations. Even with so many modern coffee shops emerging lately, one would still go for a trip to Gloria Alley just to sip Tak Kie’s robusta brew, served sweet and milky.

Not halal-friendly (meals contain pork)
Unsuitable for vegetarians

Jalan Pintu Besar Selatan III no. 4-6, Jakarta – Indonesia

Opening hours:
Daily, 6.30am – 2pm

As featured in mise en place Vol. 13 (2015)

The Iconic: Cahaya Kota

The light still shines on bright and beautiful for Jakarta’s premiere classic Chinese restaurant, Cahaya Kota. Soaking rich with its history of good food and its contribution for the country, here is the story.

Cahaya Kota 2

There is something in common shared among several subjects of this rubric since the beginning of The Foodie Magazine. All this time, we have covered a lot of grounds – from classic pastry and coffee shops, ice cream parlor, restaurants, and down to the street food.

The similarity, which we somehow discovered, is that many of them were founded traditionally or continued from previous European owners by these Chinese descendants. These businesses thrive for generations until now and they retain the authenticity unseen in other places.

Speaking about Chinese restaurants, it will not be fair to say that Jakarta can only be represented by one iconic place only. As we all know, big cities all over Indonesia has their share of old Chinese restaurants and here, it is quite ubiquitous.

Cahaya Kota as the star of this issue is an important example of how a restaurant can bland its long standing existence with tales behind the independence of Indonesia as well as contributing to Jakarta’s diverse culinary scene and great food in-between.

Cahaya Kota 4

This is partly because Cahaya Kota’s history is among the best documented in Jakarta. Usually it is up to the elderly owner or someone who is well-versed about the history and that they would verbally pass the knowledge. On the contrary, Cahaya Kota preserves its history by documenting references from old newspapers clippings, letters, photographs, and remarkably – through published diaries of notable people in the past.

The story starts in the year 1943. Cahaya Kota was known as Toeng-Kong back then and its original location was still on Jalan Menteng Raya. During this era, the late Indonesian historian Des Alwi recounted the moment when he was tasked to buy some food from Toeng-Kong by Sutan Sjahrir – Indonesian first prime minister later in 1945.

Cahaya Kota 1

“It was 12 o’clock in the afternoon and I remember clearly that I paid for the fried rice and ifumie each for 25 cents”, he said. It was not known to him yet that the food was for the lunch of Indonesia’s important figures such as Sutan Takdir Alisjahbana, Ali Budiardjo, and Amir Hamzah who will attend this secret meeting. They were discussing the issues of politics and the future independence of Indonesia.

The experience was vividly written by Des Alwi in a letter designated for the restaurant, giving credit for its indirect role. Through the letter, he urged the readers to not only respect the history but also to help preserve the legacy that Cahaya Kota safeguards until this day.

Cahaya Kota 5

Not more than two decades later, Toeng-Kong had to move out of its original location because of the Monumen Nasional’s construction. But there’s a certain perk that Toeng-Kong has to make it easier. The restaurant was previously appointed as the caterer for police and military forces in Jakarta and that means Toeng-Kong had that special privilege to be assisted by the local municipality for the relocation.

When the relocation was completed, Tjahaja Kota was chosen as the new name to replace Toeng-Kong. The use of old Bahasa spelling was used at least for the next ten years before a fire incident happens and the rebuilding process finally completed.

The seventies and the eighties were the golden years as Cahaya Kota won competitions and awards from the government. Until today, the restaurant has always been the darling of Indonesia’s notables. Memoirs written by closest confidantes showed that both Soekarno and Soeharto were huge fans of the restaurant. Almost every year now the restaurant has been participating to cater the banquets on Indonesia’s Independence Day celebrations at Istana Negara.

Specializing in Cantonese cuisine and as expected from a high caliber restaurant, the menu is rich with adventure. From the classic rice and noodles, crabs, fish, prawns, beef, chicken or steamboat dishes; Cahaya Kota boasts the lineup for exquisite ingredients such as sea cucumber, shark fins, and abalones. With a total of hundreds of recipe variations among these ingredients, each visit will constitute as a moment of discovery, even for the most avid foodies.

Other than that, its attentive service makes it a memorable experience for many, its sheer capacity and the Lazy Susans are what that makes it beautifully orthodox. The old vibe lingers still, although the atmosphere is increasingly modern.

Now on its seventh decade and moving forward; Cahaya Kota remains as a classic choice for families and officials, for lunches and celebrations, for elders and their grandchildren. Not without crediting its famous offerings from kitchen, the restaurant also serves as a remembrance of its contribution in Indonesia’s culinary and political history.


Not halal-certified
Some dishes are suitable for vegetarians

Jalan KH Wahid Hasyim no. 9, Jakarta – Indonesia

T: +62.21.319.4885




Featured in THE FOODIE MAGAZINE Nov 2015 edition

Download it for free here via SCOOP!

The Iconic: Soto Ayam Ambengan Pak Sadi (Asli)

When a restaurant is putting the face of the owner as its public image, it’s only natural think that there’s a notable persona who was or has been contributing immensely for its current stature right now – legendary or not.

At times it might be just a marketing gimmick, as such in the case of nowadays snacks or small businesses. But when we are talking about Soto Ayam Ambengan Pak Sadi – there’s more to it than just a face.

Pak Sadi and his famous soto restaurant are two things inseparable. His establishment is the embodiment of Pak Sadi’s hard work through the ups and downs of his life since the adolescent days more than 50 years ago. Born in the vicinity of the small town of Lamongan, he was already taught to cook the town’s specialty soto and East Javanese’s pride – tahu tek-tek.

Like what happens in many parts this country for years now, the citizens of rural Indonesia have always been attracted to live in big cities. Once arrived, many of them saw their dreams shattered once realizing how tough it is living in a metropolis, but some persevere and made it to the top like Pak Sadi.

If several issues ago we have the story about how Pak Misjaya jumped off the train to seek his fortune in Jakarta with only the clothes he was wearing that day and now that he runs a very successful nasi ulam business, Pak Sadi started it less radically than that thanks to his cooking skill.

But it is not without a lot of hardship.

“There was a time when I was forced to relocate and that people were simply not interested with my food. I don’t know where else to go but I was glad to have a generous friend who asked me to stay at his place and set up my business again there”, reminisces Pak Sadi.

After some time standing on his feet again, he finally started fresh with a humble vendor on Jalan Ambengan. Finally after several years, Pak Sadi had his breakthrough moment of success when he eventually can afford his own house there and the street became known nationwide as a branding name for anyone who want to start their soto Lamongan business.

“Quite some time ago, I tried to get the “Ambengan” name patented but I was denied since I cannot use the name of a public street for my soto. That’s why I put my name and the word asli for the restaurant to differentiate it”, says Pak Sadi.

From his modest beginning at Jalan Ambengan, Pak Sadi has since expanded his empire to several cities all over Indonesia with his strongest bases at Jakarta and Surabaya. “My first ever outlet in Jakarta is here at Jalan Wolter Monginsidi. We moved around for several times but this time I suppose we have become permanent”, shares Pak Sadi.

Now, as a grandfather of eleven, Pak Sadi is enjoying his retirement days and travel between Jakarta and Surabaya a couple of times in a month. He is now delegating the business to his children who are actually making his traditional business more colorful.

“My son Hartono is brimming with ideas. He opens Soto Pak Sadi outlets in shopping malls and expands it beyond the borders I knew back then”, he says. It is no wonder now that we can now find more traditional street food at Pak Sadi’s Wolter Monginsidi outlet. It was all because of his children’s initiatives.

Pak Sadi himself is true to his words when he’s talking about his soto recipe. In his restaurant, you will find yourself facing a generous serving of soto ayam Lamongan with complete offering from ayam kampung, half of hard-boiled egg, vermicelli, and optionally with a lot of koya made from real prawn crackers.

Indeed, there’s more to it than just Pak Sadi’s face on the billboards or the plates used at his restaurants. Pak Sadi started it seriously and now his restaurant is known as the true name behind any soto Ambengan you can see around – on par with other top soto from all over Indonesia.

That alone is already a huge contribution of this country’s massive culinary legacy and his heritage continues still thanks to a great family teamwork, very much likely until far in the future.


Some dishes are suitable for vegetarians

Jalan Wolter Monginsidi no. 28, Jakarta – Indonesia
Opens at other places as well in Jakarta & Surabaya

T: +62.21.7279.3057



Featured in THE FOODIE MAGAZINE Oct 2015 edition

Download it for free here via SCOOP!