It is a public secret that highly sought-after Indonesian restaurants or food stalls each have their own characteristics. Take gado-gado (Indonesian salad with peanut sauce) as an example, where some of the seasonings are replaced with cashew nuts. Also, lamb fried rice, where certain restaurants choose to use young goats under five months. Often times, there are also those who use special raw materials imported from specific regions. Essentially, they always have a secret ingredient that makes the taste of their food legendary.
These secret ingredients or spices are well-kept for generations. Some have even surpassed generations. So, don't be surprised to see that the taste in many legendary restaurants practically never changes. They preserve the taste of Indonesian food they make in a way that keeps consumers coming back.
Naturally, not all ingredients can be easily obtained. There are times when certain ingredients serve as a substitute or at the very least a complement. It could be anything from certain fruit juices, spices from various regions, to sweet soy sauce. Several legendary restaurants in Jakarta often make these various ingredients a part of their flagship menu. What are these flagship restaurants and their cuisines?
The food, which usually consists of compressed rice cake slices, vermicelli, bean sprouts, tofu, and crackers with addition of a boiled egg, is often a filling "snack". The subtle seasoning that is so distinct for this dish is even better with some sweet soy sauce on top. This sweet, savory, and slightly salty taste goes well together for an afternoon or an evening menu. Some of the legendary ketoprak food stalls in Jakarta include Ketoprak Ciragil, Ketoprak Cirebon Mas Bana, and Ketoprak Mitro.
In Jakarta, there are two types of gado-gado, namely gado-gado siram (the liquid peanut sauce is poured over the salad) and gado-gado ulek (the thick peanut sauce is mixed directly with the salad). Both of them have their own fans just like their seasoning. Some use peanuts, while others are known for mixing in some cashew nuts which are more savory. The addition of lime juice can also make the sauce fresher. Often times, sweet soy sauce is used as an addition for customers who prefer a sweeter sauce. Some of the gado-gado stalls which are preferred bycustomers include Gado-gado Bonbin, Gado-gado Boplo, Gado-gado Cemara, and Gado-gado AA.
3. Nasi Goreng Kambing
Mutton combined with warm fried rice is often the signature dish of several fried rice stalls in Jakarta. Sweet soy sauce is a perfect complement to cooked fried rice mixed with various spices. Some of the legendary lamb fried rice stalls in Jakarta include Nasi Goreng Kambing Kebon Sirih, Nasi Goreng Rempah Mafia, as well as Nasi Goreng Kebuli Apjay.
4. Soto Betawi
This soup is very distinctive for its sauce prepared with the addition of fresh cow's milk. Some stalls though, still use coconut milk. However, for customers who like authentic flavors, cow’s milk added to the sauce will always have its own charm. Not to mention the magic of mixing the savory sauce with the right amount of sweetness from the sweet soy sauce. Most loyal customers in Jakarta already know which soto Betawi stall is their target, such as Soto Ma'ruf, Bang Kumis, Soto Agus or Iwan on Jalan Barito Jakarta.
The use of strong spices and savory sweet soy sauce that are perfectly combined together brings a lot of satay food stalls their respective customers. It’s very easy to find satay in almost every corner of Jakarta. Some stalls use peanut sauce, other simply serve sweet soy sauce with spices and sliced shallots. All variations have their own customers. However, if we talk about legends, this delicious Indonesian food of grilled skewered meat usually attracts queues of customers at Sate Pak Budi, Sate RSPP, or Sate Maranggi Hj Tetty.
It’s the special features of these best-selling Indonesian food stalls that attract the customers to come back for more. Whether it’s the taste, the atmosphere or the memories customers create, they all eventually turn into stories that serve as assets to continue attracting loyal customers. Maintaining flavor is also the key to creating a lasting impression. Turns out, using sweet soy sauce recommended by 9 out of 10 chefs has become an option to enrich the taste.