It’s a must for travellers to have a taste of Soto Medan (Medan chicken soup in coconut milk) while they’re visiting the capital city of North Sumatra. The most popular Soto Medan joint in town, though, has a pedigree to go along with its very delectable food. Rumour has it that illustrious figures such as former president of Indonesia Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and one Miss Universe are huge fans of Soto Sinar Pagi.
Established in 1962 by Padang-native Zulkarnaen, the shop sports an appearance that you would not expect from an eatery that has garnered such distinguished admirers. Located inside a small food court, there are no silver cutleries or tablecloths as it shares the space with its fellow food vendors. However, don’t be fooled by its mien; this is one Soto Medan that is worth its weight in gold.
Arriving at 10am, the place already packed with customers. I was greeted by Zulkarnaen’s grandson Muhammad Idris, who then proceeded to take my order. With a choice of chicken, beef, offal or a combination of the aforementioned toppings, I opted for the chicken with extra perkedel (fried potato patty) as I had just devoured a serving of beef Soto just a few hours beforehand.
I sat myself down near the stall and witnessed Mr. Idris preparing my Soto. As he placed the bowl on my table, I could smell a pleasant aroma of spices emanating from the broth. Its dense consistency is the result of the soup blending well with the coconut milk, which was very different from the Soto Medan that I had consumed earlier. It features a rich flavour that is complemented well by the shredded chicken meat. I quickly finished it up before approaching Muhammad Idris to ask about the magic formula behind his masterpiece.
My enthusiasm was slightly dampened when he shyly refused to answer my questions. Instead, he ran to his mum for help. Introducing herself as Rosmiati, she turned out to be the daughter of Zulkarnaen, who continued the business after her father passed away. She still uses the same recipe that was devised by her old man, right down to every little detail.
“We use quite a number of spices, including cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and turmeric,” she says. Rosmiati went as far as to share the secret method for putting it all together: blend the spices properly before mixing them with the chicken stock. A simple technique, yet one that is able to produce such an extraordinary dish.
Jl. Sungai Deli No. 2,
T: 061 661 4943