As a melting pot, living in Jakarta has its perks, one of which is to be spoilt with a multitude of Indonesian cuisines to enjoy. And if you’re curious enough to have a go at traditional Aceh cuisine, a quick trip to Central Jakarta is the way to go because Rumah Makan Medan Baru is where the bold flavours are served.
Located around Pasar Baru area, the Acehnese restaurant has stood since the 1970 to introduce traditional Aceh cuisine to Jakarta. Like other cuisines in Indonesia, food from Aceh is rich and known for their fragrant and relishing savours that don’t bore the palate.
You’d be happy to find refuge from the heat outside once you enter the restaurant that’s large enough to host a get-together of any size. Do expect a pack of hungry crowd coming at lunchtime for a hearty and satisfying meal.
Similar to a Padangnese restaurant, there’s no need to place your order here. Plates of food will start rolling to your table as soon as you grab a seat. From rendang, hearty gulai (chicken, lamb, egg or fish), udang pete, sayur nangka (unripe jackfruit curry) to the sweet-and-spicy dendeng, the options are all there to feast upon.
But amongst all, do save some room for the restaurant’s famed Gulai Kepala Ikan. A treat for the eyes (and appetite), a large head of a snapper (sourced all the way from Lampung, Sumatra) is placed front and center, drenched in a yellow curry sauce that’s tasty enough to eat with anything. Word of advice, do head straight for the cheek for its soft and melt-in-your mouth texture. For the adventurous eater, every bit of the head is just as exciting to regal over to the last bit.
In notoriously Indonesian fashion, every dish is packed with naughty cholesterol, so down it and call it a day with a glass of cucumber juice. A gratifying meal for sure, props to Rumah Makan Medan Baru for doing Aceh cuisine justice all these years. And seeing it remaining to be packed to this day, you’ll know for sure you’re in for a treat.