Jakarta. Just like neighboring Bangkok, Singapore or Hanoi, Jakarta is never short on delicious street food. Most of the times though, roadside warung are not exactly the most comfortable place to enjoy your meals. Heat, dust and questionable hygiene are often the price you have to pay for these culinary ecstasies.
Luckily though, for some people who wish for more creature comforts, some warung in Jakarta have upgraded their establishment to resemble bona fide restaurants. Some of these places still call themselves warung to keep their street cred.
Jakartans are not easily fooled, though. When the quality of the food has suffered, no amount of marketing can convince them to come again.
One of these newer upmarket warung is "Warung Bos" in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta. Located on the popular eating strip Boulevard Kelapa Gading, the newly opened restaurant offers comfort and finger foods, and a comfortable, friendly place to hang out with your friends.
Let's do a taste test of the favorite items on their menu!
Long Bos Original Chicken With Cheese
Everything tastes better when you add cheese to it. In Indonesia, you can find cheese in everything, from savory to sweet dishes (hello grilled banana with cheese!)
One of Warung Bos' staple is their long chicken sandwich. The bun is soft, and the fillings –shredded chicken, melted mozzarella, sweet and sour sauce – are generous.
Martabak is the Indonesian equivalent of pancakes. It's much thicker than its Western counterpart, and folded together after the inside is slathered with margarine (pay extra for Dutch Wijsman butter straight out of a tin) and then topped with chocolate sprinkles, nuts and, yes, cheese.
If that's too much for you, go for the tipker version. "Tipker" is an acronym for "tipis kering" ("thin crust") and looks more like a crepe, but crispier.
The tipker at Warung Bos is excellent, especially the Ovomaltine version. The Ovomaltine spread was all the rage with Jakarta's sweet tooths a couple of years ago – some people would even fly out to Singapore to buy a jar when it wasn't yet available locally – and here it's been made to good use as a filling.
Martabak also has its savory version. In fact the name martabak comes from murtabak, the Yemeni savory pancake stuffed with meat, shallots and onions.
Warung Bos serves the Martabak Bos, which can be ordered with chicken, tuna, beef or goat meat. You can also add toppings like garlic, spicy sambal taichan and, yes, more cheese (popular pick: melted mozzarella).
The savory martabak here comes with piquant Balinese sambal matah made of raw shallots, lemon grass, bird's eye chili and a generous sprinkle of lime juice.
One of former United States President Barack Obama's favorite food is Indonesian satay. Obama lived in Jakarta when he was a child and during his visit to the Indonesian capital in 201o he endeared himself to local residents by doing a pitch-perfect impersonation of the satay seller's cry: "Sateeeeee!"
Indonesian satays are usually served with peanut or sweet soy sauce, but Sate Taichan – chicken skewers that have been a street food trend since a couple of years ago – are served plainer with just a garlic chili sambal.
At a glance, the dish reminds us of yakitori, the Japanese skewered chicken.
Sate Taichan is grilled for a maximum of five minutes on top of live coals. As soon as it’s cooked, the meat is sprinkled with vegetable oil, lime juice and a secret seasoning powder.
At Warung Bos, Sate Taichan is one of their most popular dishes. Served on top of a sizzling hot plate, the satays have been marinated for at least a day in a special spice mix to boost their flavor.
Address: Jalan Boulevard Raya Blok PD 9, Kav. 12 A, Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta.