Classic Betawinese fares have long been at the heart of locals. From soto betawi to ikan bumbu pecak, eateries serving these treats are always brimming with comers, and those who retain the tradition with pride attract the most frequenters. A case in point is the family of late Pak Sastra, the man behind Warung Pecak BSD. Warm and chatty to diners, the folks have been cooking up homespun Betawinese cuisine since 1995, namely their headliner Ikan Bumbu Pecak.
Concealed from nearby buildings, a lengthy line of parked vehicles and a bridge over the small creek become your best bet to find their saung makan bedecked with Indonesia’s own ‘tatami’, lesehan. But the warong’s years of success lie in their traditional kitchen, where every fare is cooked with feisty local flairs on a smokey wood fire, a timeless ritual preserved to stimulate bolder flavours.
To start your feast, one will have to queue behind the counter where generous warteg dishes spanning from bakwan udang (shrimp fritter), karedok (raw vegetable salad drenched in peanut sauce) to jengkol (fried stinky beans) await. And while you ladle out your picks, the family will greet you with their witty banters or suggestions to pair with your selections. Then, comes the question: “Would you prefer a Gourami or Nila?”
A house favourite, the fried fish dish comes with their namesake bumbu pecak, a concoction of lime and Indonesian spices often found in jamu, such as ginger, turmeric and galangal. Zesty to the palate, its unique tanginess is a jolt to the senses at first, but have it with rice, fish and fritters at one go, and you’ll see why Warung Pecak Pak Sastra never fails the test of time. Here, the bumbu pecak’s spiciness can be adjusted to your tolerance, while those who like it challenging would fancy their fresh tomato-based Sambal Dadakan or Sambal Goreng over rice.
A visit to Warung Pecak Pak Sastra is all about going back to basics. Customers sit cross-legged on the floor while going bare hands with the dish, and in the kitchen are two generations of the family keeping the business consistent. Come hungry, and let the folks cater to you with the utmost humility and ultimately, bowls of bumbu pecak—next thing you know, you’re already two plates deep at lunchtime.