Posts Tagged ‘martabak’

CRAZY SWEETNESS

The adult in me cringed slightly as the sugary beverage landed on our table. But the child in me did a little somersault, excited over the colors and overall look of the drink called Cloudy Rainbow. It is crazy sweetness in a drinking jar: the front view is a fluff of pink cotton candy sitting on top of the jar while the sugary fluff’s behind is a scoop of vanilla ice cream and two cookies floating on a sea of Sprite. A thick layer of aquamarine syrup at the bottom completes the drink.

The ornery adult (due to hunger) was mentally re-christening the drink to Rainbow Cloud which, in her mind, captured the total appearance of the huge sugary cloud peppered with bits of color cereal staring at me. I let the other kid at the table, soon-to-be-10-years-old Christian, savor his Cloudy Rainbow.

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Cloudy Rainbow – poofy cotton candy in front

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Peek behind the Cloudy Rainbow

Now, both the adult and child in me were in collusion that they wanted a piece of the other sweet stuff that made it to our regular haunt, Eat Happens, this eatery at within Grand Galaxy City. We – me, gal pal Theresia, and her son Christian ­– were in the mood for something chocolaty for our martabak, traditionally a stuffed pancake or fried bread from Saudi Arabia, which Eat Happens reworked to suit the sweet palate of the Indonesians. The staff attending to us had her finger on our pulses and zoomed in on a martabak called Martabak Jungle, a circular plate of crazy sweetness. Lying enticingly on the thick pancake, which can be sliced into four or eight pizza-like slices, were toppings that included thick layers of ground Oreo, chunky chocolate, cut up Kit Kat Green tea, and Ovaltine doused with condensed milk.  She also mentioned that we could change any of the toppings, so we swapped the Ovaltine for swathes of Nutella spread.

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Martabak Jungle by Eat Happens

Martabak or a drink, one is in for massive doses of crazy sweetness at Eat Happens.

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Martabak Jungle – crazy sweetness up close

MARTABAK MANIA

That martabak is ubiquitous in Indonesia is an understatement. Big as a skillet or minute like the palm of a baby’s hand, one can get their fill of this thick “pancake” that is heavily drizzled with sweet stuff ranging from condensed milk, crushed Oreos, and Nutella.  I have tried the one sold on the roadside – there are several martabak trolleys at Galaxy – but the one vendor I bought from hasn’t been at his usual spot. Fortunately, somewhere along Jalan Puloh Sirih in Galaxy City is Eat Happens, the haven for martabak lovers.

Eat Happens martabak van

Pay for your freshly made martabak at the martabak van

It was on one fine Thursday evening, after yoga class and famished to the bone, that gal-pal Theresia and I made a beeline for Eat Happens. I am no fan of the pun in the name, but the industrial look of the interiors (think red brick walls, chairs that have seen some sitting, and) sewing machines-turned-tables) grew on me. I would suppose my being in my yoga togs had something to do with it – I didn’t feel underdressed.  I also definitely became a fan of their martabak. The choices are overwhelming (think chocolate overload and their red velvet martabak version of the popular red velvet cake) but we settled for a seemingly simple Nutella – Cream cheese martabak cut like a pizza.

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Welcome to Eat Happens!

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The martabak is ready!

Nothing was simple about it. First, the rich textures of the Nutella and cream cheese can become overly cloying if the martabak base is not done right. But Eat Happens has mastered the difficult act of balancing a far-from-bland-starchy base with just enough dollops of the rich Nutella spread on one-half of the martabak and cream cheese on the other half. Second, the serving size is just enough for one to have a slice of each flavor. Third, there was no scrimping on the Nutella and cream cheese toppings; the cream cheese was oozing out of the martabak that I had to flatten the sides of the crust to prevent it from leaking onto the table. Meanwhile, the Nutella spread just sat there contentedly looking so creamy and velvety rich.

Nutella-cream cheese martabak

Delivered hot to your table – Nutella-cream cheese martabak

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One slice down

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Bowl of mie ayam jamur a la Eat Happens

Martabak aside, Eat Happens has other items to entice those without a sweet tooth. One can, in fact, have a complete repast of noodles or rice finished with a sweet coup de grace of martabak. Their mie ayam jamur (chicken mushroom noodle) is more than enough to satisfy the palate – the chicken and mushroom are flavourful while the green noodle was al dente. So, whether you’re mulling over martabak or noodles, Eat Happens has got you covered.

INDONESIAN SWEETS

That Indonesia has a lot going when it comes to sweet stuff is an understatement. There are a lot of desserts and sweet snacks that I have yet to try; however, I have sunk my teeth into two that have become favourites. And which is why it’s hard to move on to the other sweet stuff because every time I’m faced with the two among the plethora of choices, there’s no guessing what my selections would be. Consequently, it also means a longer time at the gym.

The first one is called piscok, which roughly translates to “chocolate banana”. Pis is the shortened form of pisang, Indonesian for banana, while cok – pronounced chok – is the abbreviated form of coklat, the Indonesian word for chocolate. Piscok is the nearest I can get to the Philippines’ turon. Despite the difference in names, the foundation is the same: slices of banana that are similar to plantain which is wrapped in spring roll wrapper then deep fried in caramelised brown sugar. Now the Filipino twist means adding a sliver of jackfruit alongside the banana while the Indonesian version involves packing the inside with gooey chocolate sauce. Bite into the turon and you’ll get a sweet fruity taste while your palate is treated to chocolaty goodness as the banana commingles with pure chocolate in piscok.

Piscok trolley

When in Manila I get my turon-fix from a stall at Hi-Top supermarket in Quezon City. Measuring less than a foot but more than five inches, this turon is sprinkled with sesame seeds and should be eaten right to get that crunch. As for piscok, I normally buy a box from a trolley regularly parked two stores down from Abe Laundry at Galaxy City. These tiny piscok squares – sold at Rp2,500 a piece – are so addictive; you just keep on munching on one until there’s nothing left in the box

Piscok

The second favourite is called martabak – the sweet one – and the martabak trolley is at the side of or in front of the piscok. To the uninitiated, there’s also a savoury martabak, but I prefer mine sweet. Martabak is a huge, thick pancake filled with chocolate sprinkles, drizzled heavily with condensed milk, and topped with a generous heaping of grated cheese then folded together. This half-moon sandwich is further cut into smaller pieces and placed in a box. Like the piscok, it’s best eaten right away, but, unlike the piscok, it’s still good even after being refrigerated. A former Indonesian flatmate of mine in Singapore told me the secret to making it seem like it was freshly cooked: steam it.

Martabak trolley

martabak man

Martabak

Martabak price list

Both trolleys are parked on the side of Jalan Sedap Malam towards the late afternoon, but the piscok is usually there first. Martabak man comes slightly after dusk, although there have been times he – a young man possibly in his 20s – was in front of the griddle a little earlier. I have surmised that martabak man comes later on account of the martabak not categorised a light snack with some customers buying it for dinner and some for supper.

Whatever you fancy, piscok or martabak, no choice will ever be wrong. I usually buy both – a few piscok squares and chocolate-cheese martabak – but only when I’m scheduled for a session with my personal trainer the following morning. It helps me to enjoy the indulgence, banish the guilt, and burn the calories all in almost one fell swoop.