New restaurants are mushrooming in Jakarta over the last few years, all trying to lure Jakartans with hipster names and locations, innovative concepts, creative interiors and modern cuisine.
But four restaurants in Central Jakarta that have been around for decades are still attracting loyal customers thanks to their nostalgic dishes and remarkable consistency.
Open for business since 1947, Restoran Trio is one of the oldest eateries in the city.
As the name suggests, Trio (three) was established by three people: Lam Khay Tjio (who was also the chef), Tan Lung and Tan Kim Po. But since1963, it has been run by Lam's son, Effendy.
The rather small and green-colored restaurant has 11 tables to cater to guests looking for authentic Cantonese cuisine.
"My father used to live in China before moving to Jakarta," said Effendy.
Guests' favorite dishes include lumpia udang (fried shrimp rolls with chili sauce and sliced cucumber), fried rice, fried chicken with lychee sauce and a pork dish called gohiong or angsiu kaki babi (pig's feet).
To add a nostalgic ambiance, the restaurant always plays entertaining Indonesian folk songs in the background as well as keeping senior male waiters around to serve its familiar guests.
If you are planning to come over during lunch or dinner, be prepared because you may struggle to get a free table since the place is always full.
Jl. Rp. Soeroso, Central Jakarta
Natrabu Minang Restaurant
Some say that Minang people from West Sumatera are wanderers, thus you can always find a Minang or Padang restaurant in all parts of the country, including Jakarta.
And this particular eatery, among other Minang restaurants in the city, deserves a mention since it is one of the oldest ones around Jl. H. Agus Salim, or more popularly known as Jl. Sabang, in Central Jakarta.
Natrabu actually started off as a tour and travel agency. The owner, Rahimi Sutan, later opened the restaurant as a waiting place for his customers.
Make sure to order one of the restaurant's specialties, rendang (beef simmered in coconut milk and spices), which costs Rp 18,700 (US$1.50) per piece. According to Rahimi's youngest son Iman Sutan, it is made with a traditional recipe from her grandmother. Other dishes that you should also consider are ayam pop (steam-fried chicken) and cassava leaves stew, both costing Rp 18,000 and Rp 6,000, respectively.
Not only a favorite among the locals, Natrabu has also welcomed VIPs from other countries, such as Malaysian Prime Minister Dato Sri Mohamad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak and Prince Muda Kawi from Brunei Darussalam.
Jl. H. Agus Salim No. 29A Gondangdia, Central Jakarta
This restaurant’s first name was actually Cooky. In 1968, it changed to Tan Goei when Miranda, Boedhi Tjahjono and Hanna Koesomatoeti bought the eatery from the previous owner. In order to abide by regulation during Soeharto’s era, the name later changed again to Miranda.
According to Louise Boedhi Tjahjono, Boedhi and Hanna’s daughter who now runs the restaurant, Miranda offers the same menu it has had since 1968, which includes huzarensla (beef salad), and tahu telor (tofu omelet served with bean sprouts in soy sauce).
For newcomers, Western food is the eatery's specialty. Its favorites include ox tongue steak (priced at Rp 58,500), beef steak (Rp 58,500) and chicken steak (Rp 42,500). If you prefer Indonesian food, its signature traditional dishes are fried oxtail (Rp 55,000), oxtail soup (Rp 48,500), chicken satay (Rp 34,500) and tahu telor (Rp 24,500). As for beverages, opt for the restaurant’s strawberry yoghurt mixed with fruits (Rp 14,500) to end your meal in a healthy way.
Jl. Besuki Menteng No.1A Menteng, Central Jakarta
Available since 1968, this is one of Jakarta's must-visit eateries if you are looking to try out nostalgic cuisine in the city.
Established by the duo of Toe Wah Seng and Lim Kwi Fong, Bakmi Gondangdia offers a rather simple setting for such a legendary eatery, with dark green-painted walls and fences. You will immediately see the kitchen upon entering the place.
As the name suggests, bakmi (noodles) is the restaurant's main ingredient. Its signature dishes include bakmi ayam (chicken noodle) for Rp 16,000, fried dumplings (Rp 16,000), buttered fried chicken (Rp 45,000) and cap cai (boiled or sauteed vegetables; Rp 35,000).
During lunch and dinner time, the place is always crowded with students and office workers around the area, so drop by afterward if you don't want to wait in line.