From street stalls to upmarket restaurants, nasi goreng (or Indonesian fried rice) falls under the dish people can always count on. Its convenience, comforting warmth and predictable flavours make it a classic to return to amidst Jakarta’s smorgasbord of food choices. Warung Bhakti, a nasi goreng stall that has been operating for over 40 years in Senopati, is a clear testimony of that, standing like a reliable presence among the fast-changing establishments that surround the neighbourhood.
Founder H. Aan Tukiman moved to Jakarta from Kalimantan with a dream: to create a thriving street food business. He dabbled in many things, from meatballs to coconut water—and after many trials and errors, he finally found his groove with nasi goreng. It proved to be fruitful. Today, managed by his grandson Bhakti (named after the stall), the prominent scent of stir-fried shallots and chilli still fills the air at Warung Bhakti once the clock turns to 5 pm, just in time for batik-clad office workers to stop by.
One can single out the regulars just by their friendly nod or greetings to the cook. Sometimes a flashy car would park by the tent as its passenger picks up a takeaway order. But the crowd peaks at weekend nights; mostly by younger visitors and party-goers filling up for a night out, or to wind down afterwards before the place closes at midnight.
Nasi goreng at Warung Bhakti doesn’t hold much of a surprise when it comes to flavour—but it doesn’t need to. The familiar sweet and savoury tang of spices provides a warming comfort to an empty stomach, and the intermingling wafts of smokiness awaken the appetite. Every bite tastes like how one would imagine it; and after a full day of activities, a clean plate is the expected end result.
Each serving comes with shreds of cabbage and slices of cucumber along with a sunny side up, but visitors can choose an additional range of toppings for their dish: Nasi Goreng Kambing if one favours goat meat, or Nasi Goreng Komplit to have it all, from chicken innards to sausage. Once in a while, regulars would also come up with off-menu requests, such as Nasi Goreng Pedas Manis to make the dish sweeter and spicier.
Three generations on, the place maintains its status as a go-to spot for a plate of nasi goreng in the area. According to one cook Lukman Hakim, many of its visitors return for the memories, reminiscing their school days, and even accidentally bumping into their friends from that time in their lives. It’s heartening that amidst the hustle and bustle of the city, you can always count on Warung Bhakti to always be there, just like a plate of nasi goreng.