Sat, 26 Feb 2000

Yogyakarta is haven for traditional food lovers

By Sri Wahyuni

YOGYAKARTA (JP): If you are an epicure with a taste for the traditional, a visit to this ancient city will be worth your while. Few other cities are as famous as Yogyakarta for their indigenous delicacies.

Once back home, visitors can spend long hours discussing the excellent fare they enjoyed at very reasonable prices.

Among its various nicknames, Yogyakarta is known as the city of Gudeg, for the dish of young jackfruit stewed in coconut milk and spices. Geplak (a sweet snack made of shredded coconut) and bakpia (cakes with sweet mungbean as the filling) have also stamped their name on the city's culinary reputation.

Gudeg has also gained popularity among foreign visitors. They tend to enjoy eating at major restaurants, while locals find it most comfortable to have it at roadside stalls.

Curious? Go to Jl. Wijilan, an area only about 500 meters east of the palace. It is probably the best-known gudeg center in town; don't be surprised if you have to queue for quite a while.

It is so popular that some restaurants specialize in the dish. Gudeg Bu Tjitro Restaurant on Jl. Adi Sucipto, just across the airport, and Gudeg Bu Djuminten Restaurant on Jl. Asem Gedhe 14 are well-known.

It is also commonly available at lesehan sidewalk along Malioboro main street at night. If this is your choice, be patient with the ubiquitous street singers who can be irritating.

Apart from the wandering minstrels, Malioboro is a good eating place for lovers of traditional cuisine: pecel lele (fried catfish served with fresh vegetables and chili sauce), mangut lele (catfish cooked in coconut milk, turmeric and spices), fried chicken, fried pigeon, quail -- you name it.

Western food

If Italian food whets your appetite, visit Kayu Api Restaurant, at Novotel Hotel on Jl. Jend. Soedirman. Set poolside with waiters and waitresses dressed in Italian costumes, the restaurant offers a wide range of specialties.

The hotel's Kedaton Restaurant, which is set in a semi-dining room style, offers a variety of international cuisine, including Indian, French, Mongolian, German, Middle Eastern and, of course, Indonesian.

Italian cuisine is also served at Kemangi Bistro Restaurant at the city's Hyatt Regency Hotel.

Located beneath the hotel's lobby with a view of Mt. Merapi, the golf greens and the architectural stupa design, adopting the same theme as Borobudur temple, the bistro features the first open-view kitchen in Yogyakarta with its original wood-fired pizza oven.

Also on the menu are sop buntut (ox tail soup), tumis sapi (sauteed sliced beef with chili and mushrooms), gado-gado (cooked vegetables served with rice cake and peanut sauce) and the chef's fried chicken with five spices.

The bistro would introduce next month a unique selection of steaks cooked on imported hot stones. It will allow customers to cook their steak by themselves if they like to do so.

If you are in need of a royal atmosphere, then try Dalem Joyokusuman restaurant owned by Prince Joyokusumo, a younger brother of Yogyakarta's Sultan Hamengkubuwono X.

The restaurant boasts traditional court architecture called limasan and the original building dates back to 1916.

Prince Joyokusumo and his wife BRAy Nuraida welcome the guests and give them the opportunity to see around the house.

Offered in a package for a minimum of 20 guests, the royal lunch or dinner includes a traditional welcome drink and souvenirs, such as the replica of the palace's logo, and a cultural show.

The menu includes blu har (beef stewed with turmeric) and bir Jawa (a drink with ginger and clove flavors). Both were said to be the favorite of Sultan Hamengkubuwono VIII.

Other choices are wedang secang (a drink flavored with secang wood) and pam brid (a cake made of flour and egg mixed with grated coconut and palm sugar as the filling, served with coconut sauce).