Jakarta: Gado-Gado Bon-bin

“When it came to scrutinising Gado-Gado Bon-Bin, though, we had to chuck our ideals into the bin and relent to its creamy, rich peanut sauce and fresh steamed vegetables.”

We try our darnedest to avoid coming up with an extravagant review that throws praise around willy-nilly by the truckload. When it came to scrutinising Gado-Gado Bon-Bin, though, we had to chuck our ideals into the bin and relent to its creamy, rich peanut sauce and fresh steamed vegetables.

If you’ve never had Gado-Gado in your entire life, then allow us to enlighten you. Gado-Gado is an Indonesian salad that is served with peanut sauce for its dressing. Using boiled or steamed vegetables such as cabbage, bean sprouts, spinach, and bitter gourd, it is topped with a number of hard-boiled eggs, fried tofu, and prawn crackers. There are two types of Gado-Gado around: Gado-Gado Ulek and Gado-Gado Siram. The difference between the two is the method in which the cook mixes the vegetables and its peanut sauce dressing. The former uses a pestle to crush the peanut sauce, while for the latter, we will reveal that in a bit.

For now, let’s return to the topic at hand, which is Gado-Gado Bon-Bin. Established back in 1960 by Lanny Wijaya, the shop initially only sold Cendol. As Lanny Wijaya’s business grew, she included new additions to its menu, including Gado-Gado, Bakmi Ayam, Lontong Cap Gomeh, and Nasi Rames.

Its popularity rose even further, to the point that competitors adopting the same concept began appearing left, right, and centre. This confused its loyal patrons, until a brilliant idea devised by its owners solved the problem. “We finally put up a signboard in 1985,” says Hadi Lingga Wijaya, the son of Lanny Wijaya who was inherited with the business.

The most popular dish in its menu is the Gado-Gado, and according to Hadi, they specialise in Gado-Gado Siram, which we mentioned earlier in this very article. To finally explain the difference between Gado-Gado Siram and Gado-Gado Ulek, the former has its vegetables poured with peanut sauce that is made beforehand. Having assisted his mum since he was a child, Hadi knows the ins and outs of the cooking process. “The peanuts are not fried; they are roasted and their seed coats are removed before they are roasted,” he explains, which explains the smoothness and creaminess of the sauce. Besides the Gado-Gado, it’s worth trying the eatery’s Cincau Hitam and Cendol too.

With a long queue of customers a familiar sight during lunchtime and its name already in lights, one would assume that we would be seeing branches of Gado-Gado Bon-Bin opening in other parts of the city. “I do everything on my own, so I’ve no plans whatsoever to open a new outlet. It gets difficult to maintain the quality of our food once we expand a business,” Hadi reasons.

Jl. Cikini IV, No. 5
Central Jakarta
T: 021 314 1539/392 5404
Open daily from 10am-5pm
Rp.28,000/US$2.50 per portion

Started her career as a food writer in 2012, Jessicha Valentina is the online editor of Good Indonesian Food. Jessicha has loved Sayur Asem since she was a wee kid and spends her free time trying to cook it.


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