“Both the Pecak Gurame and the Pecak Ayam arrived drenched in a sauce that was made from red chilli, lime, and red onion; certainly a combination to stir up one’s taste buds.”
An article that I read on local English newspaper The Jakarta Post mentioned about the slow, painful death of the Betawi cuisine and how it has become a laborious task to find proper Betawi food in Jakarta nowadays.
This irony is not lost on us at Good Indonesian Food, and I reckon that first-time visitors to Jakarta are unaware of the existence of the many lovely Betawi dishes, including Pecak Gurame. Now this particular dish – deep-fried gourami in sour and spicy sauce – may not be as popular as Nasi Goreng or Sate Ayam, but it surely has the capacity to exceed them.
One of the very few eateries that actually offer Pecak Gurame on its menu is Warung Betawi H. Muhayar, which can be found on Jalan Margasatwa. Don’t expect restaurant-level facilities with this place, as there are no air conditioners or fancy furniture in sight. Parking space is very limited as well, so customers need to park their vehicles by the roadside. These deficiencies, however, will not matter once you’ve sampled its Pecak Gurame.
Employees working at the nearby office buildings were occupying most of the seats at the joint when I came around during lunchtime. Fortunately, one of H. Muhayar’s daughters noticed me and quickly directed me to an untaken table.
Within a split second after I sat myself down, I ordered Pecak Gurame, Pecak Ayam, and Sayur Asem. A brief period of waiting followed, before they arrived on my table with their respective aromas further building up my appetite. Both the Pecak Gurame and the Pecak Ayam arrived drenched in a sauce that was made from red chilli, lime, and red onion; certainly a combination to stir up one’s taste buds. Amongst the ingredients that I discovered within the Sayur Asem was oncom (a Sundanese dish that is made from the fermentation of mould on the by-products of other food), which pleasantly took me aback. The Sayur Asem’s soup comprises tamarind, red onion, galangal, and bay leaves.
Warung Betawi H. Muhayar has managed to maintain the quality of its offerings, thanks to the deceased H. Muhayar’s children and grandchildren. And this bodes well for the future of the Betawi cuisine.
By Jessicha Valentina
Jl. Margasatwa No. 8,
Pasar Minggu, South Jakarta
T: 021 781 3945
Open daily from 9am-9pm
Rp80,000/US$5.96 per person