Dharmawangsa is a point of fascination. This old-money neighbourhood houses mansions that a millennial salary could never afford but is also home to Pak Liem’s Nasi Goreng Gila stall where everyone, stripped of their labels, regals for dinner as one.
The mid-aged man sets up shop every day in the evening not too far from the famed and fancy Plataran restaurant. His stall is easily overlooked with the dim lights merely shedding from his cart and the neighbouring warung. Thus, the easiest would be to spot his cart close to parked cars and motorbikes of customers waiting for Pak Liem’s ‘crazy’ fried rice.
Just a little offbeat of the standard fried rice, nasi goreng gila is aptly named for how daring the vendor spices up the dish and for the messy turf of bakso, egg, sausage and chicken. If the name curbs the curiosity, then don’t let it because the ones that Pak Liem serves pack all the elements right to make a dish that you’d happily go for again and again.
One can order the dish in two versions: the fried rice and nasi gila where the turf is served with warm white rice–a less oily option compared to the former. As you order, a good rule of thumb is to let Pak Liem know how you fancy your level of spiciness. For another option, the nasi goreng kambing (goat fried rice) is as delish to have for dinner as well.
Despite the unlikely set up with just a few stools and benches, crowds still come in many. Whether they’re residents of the posh neighbourhood, passersby, and youths from nearby hangout spots, all who come frequenting can expect a dinner that’ll satisfy the buds as much as the hunger. Additionally, word says that his dish makes a mean sponge for post-drinking.
Alas, one is bound to be fascinated by Dharmawangsa for the many things it has: gargantuan mansions, lush trees, existent sidewalks and coveted hangout spots. But the fact that Pak Liem has successfully maintained his business in the heart of Jakarta’s top most expensive neighbourhood is easily another point of fascination that can be added to the list.