A hunt for traditional snacks in Jakarta isn’t exactly a hunt – they’re everywhere you look. Whether when you’re stuck in a traffic jam or waiting to catch a ride on a public transportation, you’re bound to catch a glimpse of a warung or some pushing a cart selling these age-old treats – from hearty dishes such as Bakso (meatball) and Nasi Goreng (fried rice) to lighter snacks the likes of Gorengan (fritters) and Martabak (stuffed pancake).
Advancements in the culinary world, however, have seen these very food items being given a glossy makeover that has made them more innovative and fascinating. Gone is their unhygienic and ill-favoured reputation, replaced by a more attractive stature that appeals to everyone.
Basically fried sago flour, this Bandung-centric snack can easily be found by the roadside even outside of the City of Flowers. The current crop of Cireng now comes in a rather modern packaging and features various fillings, ranging from cheese and sausage to meatball and corned beef.
Singer Gombloh once sang “Aku suka singkong, kau suka keju” (“I like cassava, you like cheese”) in his ditty “Singkong Dan Keju”. Now, however, you can have them both in one package with the popular Singkong Keju (cassava with cheese). Heck, they’ve even added more flavours to the menu with the likes of Singkong Pedas (spicy cassava), Singkong Crispy (crispy cassava), Singkong Barbeque (barbequed cassava) and many more.
Who doesn’t like Martabak? A late-night snack favourite for locals, we are fortunate enough to now be blessed with an even wider range of varieties of the treat. If you have a sweet tooth, you can go for Martabak Nutella (Nutella-filled pancake), Martabak Toblerone (Toblerone-filled pancake) or Martabak Red Velvet (red velvet pancake). Those looking for a more savoury affair are able to tuck in to a portion of Martabak Telur Sapi Black Pepper (pancake filled with black pepper beef) or Martabak Telur Mozzarella (mozzarella-filled pancake).
One of the most common snacks you can find on the streets of Jakarta, Tahu Goreng (fried tofu) can now be enjoyed in a variety of forms, including Tahu Pedas (spicy fried tofu), Tahu Bulat (round-shaped fried tofu), Tahu Crispy (crispy fried tofu) and Tahu Tongkat/Stick (stick-shaped fried tofu).
Seblak (steamed crackers in spicy sauce) is not a well-known roadside treat in Jakarta, yet it has become a part of the street food lexicon in Bandung for decades. It usually consists of steamed crackers that are fried along with additional ingredients such as eggs, sausages, meatballs, shredded chicken meat, and noodles.