“The Es Bir helped a lot in cleansing my palate from the rainbow of flavours of the food.”
There’s nothing much to see or do in Singaraja, a town in the northern part of Bali. Its signature dish, the Siobak (minced meat topped with tofu skin), could easily be obtained in Denpasar, but there’s nothing like the real thing.
A resident of Singaraja whom I met during this trip told me that the two best Siobak stalls in town are Siobak Khe Lok and Warung Nasi Ibu Hadijah. While Siobak Khe Lok has expanded its business by opening a number of branches, the latter has maintained quite a low-key status. My new friend here has been eating at Warung Nasi Ibu Hadijah since she was a child, and her favourite is its Ayam Goreng (fried chicken) coupled with a glass of Es Bir (nope, it’s definitely not beer with ice).
Following her suggestion, I set off to the warung. It took nearly three hours to get to Singaraja from Denpasar, and I was very exhausted by the time I got there. And I had to ask a few locals to locate the place as well, which was hidden behind a residential area. Upon arrival, a throng of customers enjoying their meal and a long queue welcomed me.
As I waited, I went and asked a few questions to one of the servers, a 60-year-old woman. She said that Ibu Hadijah was busy working in the kitchen. “Even at the age of 90, she still supervises all the goings-on in the kitchen on a daily basis,” she says. She also gave me a rough estimate of when the shop first opened. “I think it was in the ‘70s”, she assumes.
My turn finally came. I ordered a serving of Ayam Goreng with rice. I was asked if I wanted to sample their Rawon (Javanese beef soup cooked with black nuts) and Kari (curry), and as someone who finds it hard to refuse an offer of delicious food, I excitedly ordered both. And to top off my meal, I opted to drink Es Bir, which I later found out was actually sugar syrup with lime and basil seeds.
All of the food that I ordered had a strong taste to them. The broth of the Rawon wasn’t too coagulated, so I could feel the ginger and the mild spiciness of it all slowly burning my tongue. The Ayam Goreng was rich in flavour, while the light appearance of the Kari soup deceived me as the hints of clove and candlenut that spread across my taste buds proved that it actually had quite a bite to it. The Es Bir helped a lot in cleansing my palate from the rainbow of flavours of the food.
If you are planning a visit to Lovina during a trip to Bali, I’d highly suggest you to drive a bit further and swing by this warung. However, if you’re staying in Denpasar, I reckon it wouldn’t be worth the effort.
By Jessicha Valentina
Jl. Hassanudin No. 52B,
Open daily from 9am-6pm
Rp.30,000/US$2.10 per person