Besides the jaw-dropping mansions, Menteng is, without doubt, a treasure chest of culinary gems with a story to tell. Its historical richness comes from the aggregate of events and people who helped in creating the narrative landscape of this elite neighbourhood. Here, Soto H. Ma’ruf is one among the earliest namesakes to have its story engraved done with utmost humility.
While today Rumah Makan Betawi Soto H. Ma’ruf (or simply Soto Betawi H. Ma’ruf) has branches in a handful of locations, this eatery did not even begin with a venue. The late H. Ma’ruf was a Betawi man who sold the revered soto betawi on the streets of Menteng to make ends meet in the early 1940s. The first and main branch you see today in a small house with a handful of dining tables inside Taman Ismail Marzuki complex is the result of the seventh relocation in 1983.
Indonesian soto comes in a myriad of local variations of the archipelago. The dish is easily equivalent to the chicken soup; it’s a timeless comfort food made of uniquely seasoned broth with meat and all sorts of garnishes.
The soto betawi served in H. Ma’ruf’s eatery gained wide recognition because its savoury beef broth with coconut milk, chunks of beef or a mix of beef offal has stayed consistently delicious through time, all thanks to the family’s well-kept recipe. In fact, this recognition has gone as far as the highest office in the country where past and present Indonesian presidents have given their esteem to H. Ma’ruf’s soto Betawi by dining in at the modest home branch.
While the establishment is famed for its soto, their handful of other Betawi dishes are definitely worthy of attention. However, if you have to take a pick, don’t skip on their Sate Sapi (beef skewers) with peanut sauce. Pair them up with a glass of refreshing sweet iced tea.
Every aspect of Soto Betawi H. Ma’ruf’s story shines a light on the power of humility and hard work. From national leaders to regular people, dining here easily blots out whatever social title you carry. Through a simple bowl of soto betawi, one is sensibly reminded of H. Ma’ruf’s humbleness to stay genuine and grounded in the face of success.