With so many different culinary traditions, Indonesia is well-known to be a breeding ground for weird and wonderful desserts. But have you ever tried... tempe ice cream?
The Jakarta Globe visited three unique ice cream parlors in Jakarta, places that can only be found in Indonesia, with flavors that you'd never think can be made into desserts, let alone ice cream!
Piggybacking on the success of their sister restaurant Warung Pasta, Locarasa has been making their mark on social media with its range of unique and Instagrammable ice creams.
As the name suggests, Locarasa uses local flavors, and sometimes those better known in savory dishes!
Locarasa's manager Tessa Melati said the restaurant uses only locally sourced ingredients since its owners want to really transport the unique flavors into their ice cream creations.
Visually, the aesthetics of the ice cream at Locarasa jump out at you. The waffle cone is colored green and pink, the pointed end wrapped in a banana leaf.
Taste-wise, it’s mind-boggling. The Klepon ice cream, named after the traditional pandan-colored glutinous rice ball filled with liquid palm sugar and topped with shredded coconut, tastes just like its inspiration, only it melts in your mouth.
"Most people think making a klepon ice cream would be easy since the ingredients are classic Indonesian dessert ingredients – pandan, palm sugar and coconut – but it's not. The really Indonesian flavors – klepon, klappertaart, es doger – are actually the hardest to turn into ice creams."
Only 16 flavors are on display at the cafe, but Locarasa actually has around 24 flavors on its roster.
The prices are affordable (Rp 20,000 ($1.5) for 2 scoops, Rp 25,000 for 3), so you can try on almost as many flavors as you want.
There are ice creams modeled after authentic Indonesian desserts such as Sweet Martabak (thick pancake with chocolate, nuts and butter filling), Es Doger (a coconut milk-based shaved ice dessert) and sorbets made of exotic fruits like dragonfruit and tamarillo.
Then there are the more outlandish flavors such as Kemangi (basil), Rujak (a sweet and sour salad made up of fruits and vegetables) and a favorite, Tempe (fermented soybean), usually deep fried and eaten with a plate of hot steaming rice.
Locara's gelato team once also made a Sayur Asem ice cream – based on the popular sweet and sour tamarind soup with vegetables, also often eaten with tempe – and a Kunyit Asam sorbet, based on the traditional herbal drink made of turmeric.
Both flavors were surprise hits with Locarasa's customers.
Locarasa also offers the usual options of more sober seasonal flavors such as durians and mangoes.
Try their affogato, served with Martabak ice cream. The bitterness of the espresso shot meshes well with the ice cream, the bits of chocolate and nuts, making it almost a meal than a dessert.
Address: Jalan Kemang Raya No. 88, Kemang, South Jakarta.
Opening hours: 7 a.m. - 12 a.m. (weekdays), 7 a.m. - 2 a.m. (weekends)
2. Sore Sore Artisan Ice Cream
Best known for their donuts (Dough Darlings), Sore Sore Artisan Ice Cream has also been garnering hype for their soft dessert creations. They started online in 2015, and quickly expanded into brick and mortar stores in several cities.
According to the owners, the reason why they started making ice cream as well as donuts is simple: donuts go down better if chased with a dollop of ice cream.
Head chef Karin Binanto said she created her ice cream flavors to induce nostalgia and a visual memory of childhood in every bite.
Her regular customers particularly love Susu Teh Marie (Marie milk tea) ice cream, which evokes the Indonesian tea ritual of dipping a Marie biscuit into milk tea.
Another favorite item is the Ting Ting Kacang ice cream, a flavor based on an old-school nutty candy bar similar to the Turkish halva.
There is also the Es Cendol ice cream, based on the iced coconut milk drink with green rice flour jellies and a sweet martabak (sweet thick pancake) ice cream.
Karin's more outlandish creations are the STMJ ice cream, based on the traditional health drink of milk, egg, honey and ginger, and the Tolak Angin ice cream, based on the spicy instant herbal drink that Indonesians consume in copious amount to stave off cold.
Real Tolak Angin is sold in sachets, and usually served mixed in warm water. The sharp Tolak Angin taste is still there in the ice cream version, giving it an overall minty zing.
Since this flavor comes with dark chocolate bits in it, perhaps the chef intended this to be the Indonesian version of mint chocolate chip ice cream.
Address: Lippo Mall Puri, Lower Ground, Jalan Puri Indah Boulevard Blok U No.1, Puri Indah, West Jakarta.
Opening hours: 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.
3. Sop Konro Karebosi
Hailing from Makassar, this establishment has been in business since 1968 and is more famous for their traditional grilled ribs and dark, tasty beef soup.
But they also have one dessert that's worth traveling all the way to North Jakarta – stifling hot in the dry season: Es Palu Butung, a moat of coconut porridge topped with a pile of shaved ice, magenta syrup, condensed milk and sliced bananas.
The bananas add texture and a bit of sourness to the sugary rush from this rather dense dessert.
The sweet porridge is light, and you can taste coconut everywhere you stick your spoon into in this dish. The shaved ice waters down the combined flavors, but also adds a refreshing kick. A simple dessert with very complex flavors.
Address: Jalan Boulevard Raya Blok TA No. 38, Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta.
Opening hours: 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.