Mangga Besar Food Hopping

Dear fellow tasters,

In the evening after Salt Grill, my friends and I planned to go food hopping around Mangga Besar area, known as one of Jakarta’s notorious red light districts but also as a Chinatown food paradise where numerous eateries and restaurants lining up to offer various delicacies, ranging from noodle to martabak, congee to bak kut teh, all up and ready for you to choose and feast upon.  However, our ambitious venture to hop around eight places in one night was thwarted by the unfriendly rainy weather and our limited stomach capacity – blame it on the age factor, I suppose – and we only succeeded to stop by four food spots.  Here they go.

bakmie cong sim

Bakmie Cong Sim “Athek” Medan
Jl. Mangga Besar Raya No. 2J, Mangga Besar Jakarta
Ph: +6221 6231 0973

Our first stop was for a bowl of noodle at Bakmie Cong Sim “Athek Medan”.  With thin luscious noodle, delicious “pangsit”/dumplings and generous toppings of diced pork, chopped scallion, fried shallot, and not to forget crispy pork crackling, this bowl certainly won my heart.  Double pork for the win!

Food rating 3 star
Price rating $
Ambiance rating 1 star
Service rating 1 star
Damage – 30k for a bowl of noodle with dumplings

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bakso akiaw

Bakso Akiaw 99 Medan
Jl. Mangga Besar Raya 2B, Mangga Besar Jakarta
Ph: +6221 629 1419

The next stop was meatballs at Bakso Akiaw 99 Medan.  It was a pregnant friend of mine who had been craving this since months ago and boy did she get fully satisfied.  Dining here was surely not for the faint-of-hearts.  The tables were crowded; the air was hot and humid; the service was appalling; but the food was top notch.  My friend and I decided to share a bowl of springy tasty beef balls and succulent sweet pinkish beef meat in clear simple savory broth with “bihun”/bee hoon/vermicelli on the side and limitless supply of chopped coriander, green onion and fried shallot.  There are other options to choose from which include “bakso urat” (tendon meatballs) or fish balls; beef tripes, shank or tendon; noodle or “kwetiau”/kway teow.  We also quenched our thirsts with a batch of refreshing sarsaparilla-flavored “Badak”, a local Medanese soft drink brand.

Food rating 3 star
Price rating $
Ambiance rating 1 star
Service rating 1 star
Damage – 52k for a bowl of bakso and a glass of Badak

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bak kut teh @ ta-chia

Ta-Chia
Jl. Labu No. 2/2
Ph: +6221 659 5836

It was still mildly raining when we left Akiaw to go to Ta-Chia nearby and a bowl of “bak kut teh” was the perfect treat for such weather.  For those who don’t know, “bak kut teh” is a Chinese herbal “bak kut” (pork ribs) soup, popular in Singapore and Malaysia, but nowadays has gained prominence in Jakarta.  We only ordered a bowl of bak kut teh to share and some “cakwe”/ youtiao/Chinese cruller to dip in the soup.  The bak kut teh at Ta-Chia was the darker type with soy sauce, herbs and spices in the broth creating a rich slightly-sweet savory warming flavor, and it was generously laden with big chunks of pork ribs and pork meat which were just very tender and crumbly on every single bite.

Food rating 3 star
Price rating $$
Ambiance rating 2 star
Service rating 2 star
Damage – 66k for a bowl of bak kut teh and two portions of cakwe

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nasi uduk ibu sum dishes offering

Nasi Uduk Ibu Sum
Jl. Mangga Dua Raya, Mangga Dua Jakarta

Our last stop for the evening was for supper because this eatery only opens after 10 PM every day (except when it’s closed on Saturday).  It is located a bit further in Mangga Dua but still near Mangga Besar.  A far from fancy place which is always fully packed and complete with waiting list, Nasi Uduk Ibu Sum offers no-fuss no-frills comfort food for hungry night wanderers in the form of “nasi uduk Betawi” (steamed rice cooked in coconut milk) and an array of dishes to choose from to go along with the rice.  We only shared a plate of nasi uduk and I left most of the choosing of the dishes to my friend resulting in a mound of savory fragrant rice with crispy “ayam goreng” (fried chicken), tasty “teri kacang” (peanuts and anchovies) and “orek tempe” (stir-fried tempeh in soy sauce), salty sweet and spicy “cumi asin” (salted squids) and “ikan asin garing” (crispy salted fish), befriended by some “sambal” (chili sauce) and “saos kacang” (peanut sauce).

Just a tip from my friend (which most people don’t know): After you pay your bill here, don’t forget to get the magic free parking ticket to waive your parking fee.

Food rating 3 star
Price rating $
Ambiance rating 1 star
Service rating 1 star
Damage – under 50k for a plate of nasi uduk and the toppings

Happy food hopping!

PS: Some photography done by Anthony Lee, do visit his Instagram antzl33!

The taster’s notes:
Favorite dish – all of them, really
What to try next time – the food places we didn’t get to hop: Super Suikiaw, Kwetiau Akang, Henis, Bubur Ayam Mangga Besar I, Martabak 65A Pecenongan

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