Bandung: The journey would take around two hours from Bekasi if traffic was smooth, but it’s a different story altogether when it gets all snarled. Hearing Pak Rudy’s loud gulps every time he saw a meandering queue up ahead was like hearing an alarm bell on snooze mode going off, warning of a possible jam ahead thus a delay in getting to an area formerly called Dago Atas where I was set to meet my gal-pal holidaying from Singapore. The little red dot on the map had a long weekend holiday thanks to its National Day celebrations falling on a Monday. She and her family had flown straight to Bandung from Singapore to visit kith and kin. It was also a perfect opportunity for us to meet up.
The last time I was in Bandung was several months back and it ended with me nursing a bad cold that flared up into a nasty flu. I really can’t take cold weather and the weather at the famed crater of Bandung was a little bit too much for me despite being wrapped up like an Eskimo. I was looking forward to shopping after the crater visit but I was in no mood after coming down with the sniffles. I did manage, on a happy note, to buy the famed brownies of Bandung and carted off two bags of them back to the van.
Now, back in Bandung, it was a jam-free delectable food trip all the way. The Kiosk Food Market – the meeting point – at Jl. Ir. H Juanda is reminiscent of Marché, the Swiss restaurant known for its open station concept that has branches in Singapore and at Plaza Senayan in Jakarta. But, unlike Marché, there are servers to take your order and serve you. The cuisine highlights, naturally, the various Indonesian delicacies, which is a hit with the eaters judging from the influx of diners during the two hours we were there. If a group left, another one came in after them.
The place is spacious and has sections filled with long tables that are great for large families to share a meal. My gal-pal’s huge extended family, amidst chatter, easily filled up the long table and then silence reigned for a few minutes as everyone perused the menu for their lunch. Nasi goreng was the popular choice, but I opted to try something different and which I have never seen in Bekasi. Nasi Bakar Ijo, or grilled green rice, came wrapped in banana leaves and sat alongside a piece of chicken in a woven basket. Unwrap the banana leaf and your fresh-from-the-grill green rice is ready to be eaten together with the chicken and bowl of warm vegetable soup. I washed down the green rice with a mug of warm not-so-sweet teh tarik (sweetened “pulled tea”) that had a faint aftertaste of jasmine tea. My gal-pal, in contrast, opted for a snack and chose cilok (pronounced chi-lok) partnered with a glass of the syrupy-sweet Happy Soda (sprite with pink syrup). The five balls of gelatinous glutinous balls, drizzled with chilli sauce, proved, interestingly enough, to be more than a light nibble than my tubular green rice!
Leaving Bandung without the requisite boxes brownies is tantamount to slapping the godfather with a gauntlet. One must pay homage to the numerous bakeries lining the streets of Bandung for a token box, or more, of pastries to take back home. There was no need to convince me of that fact; I gamely followed the convoy of vans and shuttle bus to what seems to be the mother of bakeries in Bandung.
Prima Rasa is on Pasik Kaliki 163 and, even on a rainy day – it started pouring as we made our way from The Kiosk– was packed car-to-car with pastry-buyers. Within three minutes of setting foot at Prima Rasa, the smiley server helping me was heavily laden with boxes of brownies (mocha, regular and cheese) and brownie chips (cut-up squares of brownies). At the cashier, my gal-pal handed me a box of mini pisang bollen, banana with cheese in a pastry puff, which is their speciality, and a Pringles-like tube of meringue to include in my loot and largesse.
But, sadly, good things come to end. I was heading back to Bekasi with my belly nicely filled with nasi bakar ijo and the van packed with brownies while my gal-pal was scheduled for some serious shopping around Bandung.
The Kiosk Food Market
2F Jl Ir H, Juanda No. 48 Bandung
(It’s near Bank Niaga. The area was formerly called Dago Atas.)
Pasik Kaliki 63
Photography by Ferhan Putra and Fistri Abdul Rahim