“The porridge features a thick texture, and after I took a bite, I noticed that it was made using unbroken rice that were softened due to the chicken broth.“
Over the past few years, Tangerang has become much more than just a satellite city to Jakarta. New residential areas and luxurious shopping centres have been built, resulting in a vibrant suburb where many residents of Jakarta have opted to move to in order to escape from the chaotic state of our capital city. This progress has also culminated in a myriad of new eateries popping up in the area – each offering its own specialities to delight local epicureans.
However, these brand-new joints do not paint the full picture of the rich food culture that the city actually has. The real foodscape of Tangerang owes a great deal to the Chinese community in the city, who are known as Cina Benteng. They have helped in reshaping the local culinary scene with their know-how and their eatable creations. A good example to reflect their contribution is Bubur Ayam Keluarga Pak Beng.
Founded 42 years ago by Beng Sui, this eating place serves Bubur Ayam (chicken porridge) that is made using the cooking methods of the Chinese people yet still flying the flag for Indonesian food. He serves it à la minute and keeps it halal by eschewing the use of pork as part of its ingredients.
I spotted three different-sized pots as soon as I entered the shop. The biggest held the porridge, which Pak Beng would gradually move to the medium-sized pot. When a customer orders a bowl, he would reheat the porridge inside the smallest pot.
The porridge features a thick texture, and after I took a bite, I noticed that it was made using unbroken rice that were softened due to the chicken broth. On top of the porridge were minced chicken, lettuce, char kway (Chinese doughnut), and tongcai (preserved Chinese water spinach). This combination gives out a melange of flavours that included sour, peppery, and salty. I asked Pak Beng to add a raw egg to my Bubur Ayam, which lent a creamier touch to its texture.
As I ate the Bubur Ayam, my mind travelled back in time to the days when my nan would prepare porridge made from leftover rice, and how I would always enjoy eating it. This was a dish that not only brought joy to my taste buds, but also to my heart.
Jl. Ki Samaun, Tangerang,
Banten, West Java
Open daily 4pm to 12am
Rp.13,000/US$0.90 for a small portion, or Rp.15,000/US$ 1.10 for a big portion