Wed, 12 Sep 2001

A bit more Betawi bite needed at Warung Si Doel

BANDUNG (JP): The sinetron (TV drama series) success, Si Doel Anak Sekolahan (Doel, The Graduate) has encouraged producer, director and actor Rano Karno to use the character's name to start his restaurant.

It has turned out that the name "Si Doel" has brought good luck to his Betawi traditional eatery business. In July, he decided to open the latest branch of Warung Si Doel on Jl. Purnawarman in Bandung, one of the most crowded streets in the city.

The reason for choosing Bandung was because the citizens were considered a potential market for a family concept dining spot selling Betawi food and decorated with Betawi ornaments.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Mondays to Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Saturdays.

What's It Got: Soto Betawi (a Betawi traditional soup made of goat's foot or tripe, coconut milk, tomatoes, potatoes, fried shallots and crackers), nasi uduk (rice cooked in coconut milk served with crackers), fried white noodles, tempe (fermented bean cake), assorted meat, asinan Betawi (Betawi traditional vegetable salad in a spicy sweet and sour sauce) and other Betawi basic delicacies are on offer.

The restaurant also offers a European menu, including tenderloin and sirloin steak, and Sundanese traditional food packages called Doel kuring and Atun kuring containing rice, fried fish, grilled chicken, sayur asem (sour soup), sambal (chili sauce) and lalap (uncooked vegetables served with chili sauce).

Chicken-based food -- grilled chicken, chicken teriyaki, chicken steak, nasi ayam cah jamur (rice with stir-fried chicken, mushroom and vegetables), ayam saos tomat (chicken in tomato sauce) -- and noodle-based food -- fried noodles, I Fu Mie, bakmi ayam special (noodle soup with sweet, shredded chicken), bakmi special pangsit (noodle soup with meatballs and fried wonton) -- are also available.

Despite regular beverages like coffee, tea, fruit juices, milk shakes and soft drinks, it also offers funny-name fruit punches such as Oplet Babe (lemon, granadine and guavas), Ondel-ondel ngibing (melon, lemon, soursop and pineapple), Sinyo Kemayoran (passion fruit syrup, lemon, soursop and pineapple) and Doel punch (lemon, pineapple and granadine).

Price Points: Some food is cheaper in comparison with other well-known cafes in the city. A portion of chicken steak costs Rp 20,000, while Rp 26,000 is charged for beef tenderloin.

Noodle-based food ranges from Rp 6,500 per portion for baso komplit ala Bang Doel (noodle soup with meatballs) to Rp 15,000 for fried noodles.

Sundanese main dishes range from Rp 10,000 to Rp 20,000 per package, including rice, fried fish, chili sauce and lalap.

Soto Betawi served with rice is Rp 10,000, nasi uduk komplit is Rp 12,500 per serving, asinan Betawi Mak Nyak is Rp 4,500 and sop buntut (oxtail soup) served with rice is Rp 15,000.

Looks: Si Doel is an old-fashioned Betawi traditional house with typical wood-framed windows and a garden fence.

More than 18 paintings, featuring the faces of Doel (Rano Karno), Mandra (Mandra), Mak Nyak (Aminah Cendrakasih), Atun (Suti Karno), Babe (Benyamin Sueb), Zaenab (Maudy Koesnaedy), Sarah (Cornelia Agatha) and other characters in Si Doel Anak Sekolahan, decorate its indoor rooms that can seat around 200 people.

Cloth featuring burung hong (hong bird) patterns, Betawi traditional ornaments and small ondel-ondel sculptures on each table help to create the Betawi ambience.

There were no problems with its cleanliness, service from the uniformed wait staff, or parking area.

Taste Factor: Some of the Si Doel food and drinks have an unusual taste, compared with the taste of delicacies on offer at other cafes.

I recommend you taste a Mickey Mouse (cold soft drink with ice cream and two long sticks of chocolate wafer), a sinyo Kemayoran and es nyun-nyun (a cold and sweet coffee with soda, vanilla, ice cream), which may refresh you.

The tenderloin steak, served with a basket of French fries, uses tender, non-fat beef but lacks spices and fresh vegetables.

The asinan Betawi Mak Nyak and nasi ayam cah jamur are not too bad on taste.

Minus Points: The women's rest room was out of order during my visit.

Verdict: Si Doel is one of the most representative of Betawi traditional eateries in Bandung. Unfortunately, it doesn't offer Betawi kerak telor (omelette flavored with shredded and fried coconut) or ketoprak (steamed rice ketupat, white noodles, beansprouts, tofu and crackers in peanut sauce), which are favorites with Jakartans. (Dani)