Surabaya: Bakwan Dempo Asli


“It tasted remarkable, even without theBakwan. Its meaty flavour was not too intense, which my palate could agree with.

Bakwan Dempo Asli is a restaurant specialising in East Javanese Bakwan (meatballs) that is located within a residential area inside a garage of a house in Surabaya. It first opened in 1970 and to this day, it has never expanded its business outside of its garage doors. Despite its low-key existence, the joint still manages to draw quite a sizable number of loyal followers from across the city.

As a food scribe who has basically eaten her way through the City of Heroes, I was very excited at the prospect of adding another eatery to conquer. I expected Bakwan Dempo Asli to be serving delicious noodles akin to Bakwan Kapasari. However, once I got there, I discovered that they only offer rice. I was utterly devastated. I quickly came up with a plan B: hit the road and go straight to Bakwan Kapasari if the food here fails to satisfy my taste buds. Other dishes that are served here include dumplings and fried intestines, while it is able to serve the Bakwan in two ways: deep fried and soup. As a genuine foodie, I opted for both.

Vonny, the founder’s daughter-in-law, came with my order in less than ten minutes. Upon receiving my bowl of Bakwan, I noticed a bit of oil and froth floating on the surface of the clear soup. This signalled that the soup was made from scratch and went through a long cooking process. It tasted remarkable, even without the Bakwan. Its meaty flavour was not too intense, which my palate could agree with. The deep-fried dumplings passed my test with flying colours, sporting a crunchy exterior that is balanced by its chewy minced meat filling.

It was one of those rare moments when my presumptions got the better of me. The meal that I had was so perfect, I just had to forgive Bakwan Dempo Asli for not featuring noodles on its menu. In the end, I ditched my contingency measure and went straight to the airport instead to catch my flight home.

surabaya-heritage-bakwan dempo
Jl. Dempo, No. 17
Surabaya, East Java
T: 031 531 5631
Open daily from 7.30am-7.30pm
Rp.30,000/US$2.30 per person


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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