It would not be unlikely to say that each and every Indonesian on earth would either be familiar with Bakso (meatballs) or is a fan of the dish. Perfect for a spot of breakfast, lunch or dinner, there is no fixed time to indulge in a bowl of Bakso.
The variety of how Bakso is served and its filling has also swelled up in recent times, including those that are stuffed with cheese, bird’s eye chilli, minced beef, and even another meatball (imagine a matryoshka Bakso). This time around, we will be measuring two heavyweight Bakso joints – Bakso Cemplon Setiabudi and Bakso Bakwan Malang Cak Su Kumis Rawamangun – against each other to see who comes out on top.
Its rather tranquil ambience owes much to its slightly isolated location far from the main road, making it the ideal place to unwind. The background music also enhances the atmosphere, be it for work or a spot of conversation with friends and family. Its meatballs are quite soft to the bite and savoury as well. Besides its much-fêted Bakso, Cemplon also has a smorgasbord of other dishes on offer.
You may end up disappointed by the quality that you will be getting from the price that you are paying. Although its Bakso is flavourful, the soup, rice vermicelli, and yellow noodles that make up the whole dish are weak in taste and require more than just a pinch of additional flavouring.
Jl. Setiabudi 2, No. 19,
Setiabudi, South Jakarta
T: 021 3218 9791
Open Sunday to Friday from 10am-10pm (closed on Saturdays)
Bakso Bakwan Malang Cak Su Kumis
The willingness of its many customers to park their vehicles quite far from the joint and walk on foot, only to then stand in a long line just for a bowl of its Bakso Bakwan Malang (meatball dumplings soup) signify the high esteem in which this place is held by Bakso lovers. Its soup is delightfully savoury and the generous amount of ingredients within makes this dish simply unmissable. It adopts a buffet system, which means that punters need not wait to be served. The menu here is packed with various delights; while a must-try Es Teler (fruit cocktail with coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, and shaved ice) shop for hot afternoons is sited right next to it.
It is just too crowded. You have to be prepared for a scramble with other customers to secure a seat during peak hours, aka lunchtime. And you cannot dilly-dally while eating as well due to the snaking queue of punters waiting for you to finish up and leave. Those who travel here on wheels will have to make do with a parking spot far from the establishment and a bit of walking on foot to reach it.
Jl. Rawamangun Muka Barat No. 14,
Rawamangun, East Jakarta
T: 021 9269 6256
Open daily from 9am-9pm
Despite being regularly filled to capacity and the prospect of not being able to take your time enjoying a meal looms large, I am still electing Bakso Bakwan Malang Cak Su Kumis as the clear winner in this contest. Besides the savoury and delicious soup, the addition of Bakso, Siomay (steamed fish dumplings), Kekkian (minced prawn roll) and the many other choices available on its menu makes the long journey to get here worth my while