A classic plate of nasi goreng (Indonesian fried rice) is virtually available in every corner of the city. Yet, few of them charm the crowd like the street-side stall of Nasi Goreng MPR, serving the eponymous dish that has kept a trail of regulars since 1963.
Hailing from Pekalongan, the late Abdul Rochman started the venture in a travelling cart before settling down near the MPR (People’s Consultative Assembly) housing area in Cipete around the 1970s, hence the name. From his humble cart, Abdul’s nasi goreng garnered the attention of the public and government officials in the neighbourhood; it even earned him an invitation to cook for one of the country’s past vice presidents. But the city’s hiking rent prices and road constructions meant he could not stay in one place for long, forcing him to relocate five times since.
The business is now run by Abdul’s three sons: Jamal Rozy, Handoko and Alif Imron. For the last five years, the humble joint has been setting up its tent in an empty parking lot of home decor shophouses on RS Fatmawati Raya Street, just a few minutes walk from Haji Nawi MRT station. Every day from 6.30 pm, the clanging sounds of wok and pan echo with roaring motorcycles in the street, filling the air with a thick cloud of spices, at once eye-watering and mouth-watering.
Upon first taste, the golden brown nasi goreng has a distinct burnt aftertaste that doesn’t feel too dry, a testament to the cook’s skilful whipping of the wok. For an extra crisp to the plate, one can request a double egg: one to scramble with the rice and spices mixture, another one as a sunny-side-up. Served with crackers and pickled vegetables, it packs a strong punch of spices best enjoyed with one of its most popular topping combinations, chicken heart and innards.
A usual evening sees the brothers whisking away behind the cart, each knee-deep in tasks like heating the spice mixture and serving the plates as customers continue to trickle in. “One of our regulars has frequented our stall since our father’s days. Now, we often see his son bringing his children around, ordering a few plates to eat in the car,” shared Jamal, the youngest out of the three.
Amidst the evening rush that sees people come and go, Nasi Goreng MPR serves as a quick stop to fill one’s stomach before leaving for a night out, or walking home with a warm takeaway bag at hand. One thing for sure, no matter where it parks its tent, diners depart with delight, leaving behind squeaky-clean plates that guarantee their return.