Although the Betawi people are the indigenous ethnic group in Jakarta, it is painfully bizarre to know that there are more Padang restaurants in the Big Durian than those that serve authentic Betawi cuisine. Thank your lucky stars that we still have Rumah Baba. Founded by Ali Reza, this must-visit eatery once called Senopati its home before relocating to Cipete.
With a facade that has all the hallmarks of your traditional green-coloured Betawi dining establishment, its windows are decorated with the menu items that are offered by Rumah Baba. Even the waiting staff are dressed up in customary Betawi Abang and None get-ups. Its home-style Betawi cooking was inspired by its owner’s history of being presented with Betawi food by his true-blue Betawi parents since he was a little boy.
Its photogenic interior sports round wooden chairs that are uniquely Betawi, with old film posters pasted on its walls. In one corner of the shop is a display that holds various cigarettes from across the country that you might never have heard of.
Rumah Baba’s menu is the real deal if you’re looking for a spot of Betawi food, which includes the likes of Kerak Telor (spicy omelette), Nasi Uduk (steamed rice cooked in coconut milk with side dishes), Nasi Kuning (yellow rice), Soto Betawi (Betawi beef soup), Pecak Gurame (grilled gourami with peanut sambal), Bir Pletok (traditional Betawi beverage with herbs and spices), and more. I opted for its favourite Lontong Sayur (rice cakes in coconut milk soup with vegetables). I was slightly concerned over the taste of its soup, though; will it be bland or too dense?
Its sizable portion was a plus point in my book. Served with chayote, Tahu Bacem (sweet marinated tofu), Telur Bacem (sweet marinated egg), fried shallots, and crackers, my worries soon disappeared once I had a sip of its flavorous broth. The smooth rice cakes were a delight to bite, while the Tahu Bacem was a sweet success on my taste buds. You can also add some sambal to cater to your spiciness preference.
I’d definitely recommend Rumah Baba and its nostalgia-inducing ambience for those who are on the hunt for some good Betawi fare.
You can also read this story on The Jakarta Post: Savoring Betawi Delicacies at An Old School Jakarta Eatery.
Jl. Cipete Raya No. 7A,
Fatmawati, South Jakarta
T: 021 769 9205
Open daily from 11am-10pm
Price: Rp.60,000/US$4.50 per person