“A sweet aftertaste rounded off every spoonful, while the slices of the hot fried beef tripe lent a chewy texture and a bit of freshness to the overall experience.“
Often billed by the country’s tourism board as one of the most iconic and quintessential dishes in the Indonesian culinary lexicon in its promotions overseas, Nasi Goreng (fried rice) has become a popular choice for newcomers to Indonesian food. It also helps that one is able to procure a plate of this savoury delicacy at almost every nook and cranny across the archipelago – be it at a roadside hawker or a fancy restaurant in a five-star hotel. Being a true-blue Indonesian, I’ve got fried rice in my DNA, so it was fitting that I had a go at a portion of Nasi Goreng Babat (fried rice with beef tripe) at Nasi Goreng Babat Pak Karmin during a trip to Semarang a few months back.
Located nearby the Pasar Johar area, which is a famous traditional market in the city, finding the place was supposed to be a walk in the park. However, since I’ve never stepped foot in Semarang before, it took me quite a while before I finally came across it. Even firing up the trusty Google Maps didn’t help. Frustrated, I decided to park in front of Pasar Johar and scoured the vicinity on foot. Luckily, the parking attendant gave me some leads to the exact whereabouts of the eatery.
A small warung that blended in amongst a string of hawkers right across Bank BRI, I came to the realisation that the reason why I couldn’t spot it earlier was because a row of stalls kept it hidden from my point of view. As soon as I settled myself down, I ordered my Nasi Goreng Babat. The shop is run by Pak Sunarto, who is also responsible for all the cooking with the help of his wife. I got chatting with the latter while her husband was preparing my food, and she kindly described the history of their business, which was pioneered in 1940 by Pak Sunarto’s father Pak Karmin. The warung itself was unveiled in 1983.
After a few minutes, it was time for me to dig in. Despite having asked Pak Sunarto to tone down the spiciness, it still gave off a delightful burning sensation on my palate and in my tummy. A sweet aftertaste rounded off every spoonful, while the slices of the hot fried beef tripe lent a chewy texture and a bit of freshness to the overall experience. Oh, you can also ask to swap the beef tripe with cow’s lung, intestine or chicken too.
Jl. Aloon-Aloon Bar (across Bank BRI),
Open daily from 7am-9pm
Price: Rp.20,000/US$1.50 per person