Posts Tagged ‘pisang goreng’

REDISCOVERING BANDUNG

First impressions last and my impression of Bandung as a place nothing to rave about lasted for several years. My colleagues and students were always scurrying to Bandung every chance they got notwithstanding the snarled traffic to and fro much to my consternation. My first foray into Bandung was to a volcanic crater which wasn’t disappointing. The grey landscape was a dramatic departure from the usual green scenery I am used to, but which nonetheless piqued my interest. It was a stark flip to the presence of life; I now had an idea of how Demeter unleashed her vengeance on mankind for Hades’ concupiscence. Adding to my incredulity was the incongruous presence of hawkers with bonnets, scarves, and boa. Commercialism had found its place near the crater.

It wasn’t until only this May that I set foot again in Bandung. The invitation came from my gal-pal Theresia to join her church group, Wanita Katolik RI Ranting St Maria Ratu Pengantara segala Rahmat, from Cabang St Servasius, Kampung Sawah, on their annual outing. The gaggle of mature and young ladies was grass widows relishing the break from their duties as wife, mother, or padre de familia for a whole day. The journey wasn’t lacking in giggles and guffaws, complaints and ruffled feathers, and good old-fashioned camaraderie. I was witness to a tableau of familial ties in its rawness, which, being a recluse, opened a whole new appreciation in me for human interaction and Bandung.

BAMBOO VILLAGE

Dusun Bamboo, or Bamboo Village, is a green sanctuary located in Lembang. The relaxing effect of nature begins at the right of the entrance where your sight falls on rice paddies so green you’d think the landscape was photo shopped by the universe; to the left are vehicles to take one around the family leisure park. It is best to go on foot to take in nature and its cool air especially coming from scorching Bekasi where the temperature is a few degrees higher. Most travellers stay a night or more at Dusun Bamboo to get away from the madness of the city, as facilities are not lacking and restaurants abound. One restaurant, Lutung Kasarung, caught my attention because of its design: a birdcage. The dining “birdcages”, which fit two or more diners, are suspended in mid-air and accessible by walk ways several meters from the ground.  Further exploring Dusun Bamboo led Theresia and me to a lake with a floating platform surrounded by villas – presumably private dining rooms – accessible by a short ride in a decorated bumboat.

rice paddy 1 at Dusun Bamboo

the view that greets you as you emerge from the entrance


rice paddy 2 at Dusun Bamboo

I have mellowed so much – a rice paddy is a thrill to see now.


women on a day trip

Photo op on the walk way


with gal pal Theresia

with gal pal Theresia


floating platform and villas

stand or sit on the floating platform


bunga terompet

bunga terompet are everywhere at Dusun Bamboo


birdcage dining

book a birdcage for dinner for two or more at Lutung Kasarung


bamboo structure

exploring Dusun Bamboo

Naturally, like the millennials, the Wanita Katolik was not oblivious to selfies and group shots which weren’t just confined to the lake or rice paddies. The women know that immediate documentation on social media platform is imperative in today’s travels.

FLOATING MARKET

Next on the itinerary was lunch at the floating market. On account of being Ramadan, the floating market was easy to navigate: one could leisurely peruse the floating boat-kitchens on their offerings, exchange money for tokens, and secure a table. Apparently, the weekends – the time local tourists descend upon the place – are filled with mobs of diners jostling to, say, order a plate of satay and get a table.

Floating market sign

row of boat kitchen vendors 1

row of boat kitchen vendors 2

Which boat kitchen do you get lunch and dessert?


tokens at the Floating Market

exchange your rupiah for tokens to buy food and drinks


satay boat kitchen

“Do you want lontong with your satay ayam?” asks Theresia.


satay ayam vendor

preparing satay ayam on the spot


crispy tahu vendor

the tahu lost its crunchiness


pisang goreng

freshly cooked pisang goreng


lunch at Floating Market

Lunch is ready – dig in!


Cepot

Cepot, a wayang golek character, serves as scare crow too in an area of the Floating Market.

Unlike the floating market of Thailand, the boat-kitchens are moored to their places, the vendors – cranky or not – waiting for customers so they could fire up their stoves. Others are a little too swift in their cooking that their dishes are exposed way too much than they should. That was my mistake in buying crispy tahu (tofu) which had lost its crunchiness. Fortunately, the chocolate-cheese pisang goreng (banana fritters) was cooked on the spot hence it was still crispy when it was time to have dessert. Similarly, the skewered satay ayam (grilled chicken) were placed on the grill only after we had placed our order. The satay ayam was good, but its proportion to the lontong (rice cake) was a disappointment compared to the wonderfully balanced portion at Satay Ayam Madura, a satay stall at Summarecon Mall Bekasi.

The language barrier broke down a bit as I caught snippets of the Wanita Katolik’s stories in between bites: a crabby member’s endless complaints, how good the es cendol (cold Indonesian drink), who is ordering pisang goreng again, the oleh-oleh (gift; food or not) and kue (cake) they should buy at the floating market, etc.

KEBUN BEGONIA

Majority of the women had a penchant for gardening so Kebun Begonia, a garden-and-vegetable market, was the last stop. The whole lot was divided into the garden, or what I call the selfie place with its various picture stations, and vegetable patches. It was every woman for herself at this point: some scrutinized the flowers, evaluating which ones to add to their garden; Theresia et al took selfies; and I went for ginger tea. Ginger tea is ubiquitous in Indonesia particularly hot or cold wedang jahe. My hot wedang jahe helped to chase away the cold seeping into my body and rejuvenate my flagging energy (I had been up since 4am). Some joined me for a cuppa and quickly put me to shame. They downed it like water to the last drop while I struggled with the strong, biting taste and only finished half of my cup.

welfie moment at Kebub Begonia

Strike a pose!


Selfie moment among the flowers

an Instagram-worthy shot

Walk through flower beds


Or walk around pots of flowers


First impressions do last but they can quickly change when the opportunity presents itself. Bandung was a revelation with its greenery and cool weather. Fortunately, traffic was smooth because of Ramadan thus no delays in the itinerary. It was a bonus too to have been part of a group of women who, despite the language barrier, made an extrovert-introvert agnostic feel very much part of their close-knit group.

TOP PICKS FOR LOCAL FARE

Unlike my friend Lou who’s a confessed foodie and finds the beauty – part of it – of a place through its cuisine, it takes me a while to notice the cuisine of a local place, as, you might have guessed, I’m far from being a foodie. Couscous mixed with vegetables, tofu, boiled egg and drizzled with lime is my idea of a gastronomic fare although I am partial to sandwiches and Italian and Japanese food when the mood strikes.

My exposure to Indonesian cuisine has always been centered on nasi champur – a meal I had in Manado; ayam pengyet – a Singaporean-Indonesian friend of mine introduced me to this dish, which roughly translates to ‘smashed chicken’, as the deep-fried batter-coated chicken is hammered a few times before being served, when we had dinner at this little restaurant in Lucky Plaza; and the ubiquitous gado-gado, Indonesia’s version of vegetable salad topped with boiled egg and swirled with peanut sauce.

In Bekasi, Indonesia, couscous is still my main repast, but my palate has dared to taste some of the local dishes that have proven to be mouthwatering.  My top picks for local fare for now are:

Ayam Bakar Madu – This is grilled chicken marinated in honey and served with nasi (rice), grilled tofu and tempeh (soybean cake). The dipping sauce is soy sauce mixed with chili, chopped tomatoes and onions. Choices of chicken parts are wings and breast. I am greatly distrustful of grilled chicken because, more often than not, I end up getting served pieces that are over grilled (read: dry) and absolutely bland. This time I was digging into juicy chicken thigh with a sweet honey taste. I had this dish at Warung Bakar, a little restaurant at Jln Tebet Barat Dalam No. 153. It’s the restaurant’s house specialty.

Gurame Bakar – This is grilled Gurame fish served with nasi and dipping sauce of sambal (roughly translated as ground chili shrimp paste). This dish, like the Ayam Bakar Madu, is on the menu of Warung Bakar, a little restaurant at Jln Tebet Barat Dalam No. 153. My friend ordered it and I tasted a bit of the fish. Fresh and sweet!

Tempeh (or tempe in Javanese) – This slab of soybean, which is often referred to as “Javanese meat”, is wrapped in banana leaf and readily sold in wet markets. It’s usually cut into strips and fried while some dishes feature the tempeh with chili sauce for that added kick to the taste buds. It’s said to have a higher content of protein, dietary fiber and vitamins vis-à-vis its popular counterpart, the tofu. I prefer this fried and dipped in kecap manis (sweet sauce) or blended with vegetables.

Traditional Tofu – It’s wrapped in cheese cloth and is available at the wet market for Rupiah3, 000 a square. Called kampong tauhu (village tofu) and unlike the ones that are sold in the supermarket, this one has a soft, creamy texture and is smooth to the palate. I normally place it in the steamer, dice it into cubes and blend the cubed tofu into the waiting bowl of couscous. Drizzle it with lime for a tangy flavor.

Risoles – These Indonesian croquettes are stuffed with various fillings such as ayam (chicken), keju (cheese), sapi (beef), telor (egg) and tuna. There’s this tiny risoles kiosk outside of SuperIndo supermarket that I frequent; it’s only a 15-minute walk from Global Prestasi National Plus School. Risoles is a favorite snack of the locals and is said to taste better when eaten with a piece of green chili. I prefer it minus the chili.

Martabak ManisThis is Indonesia’s version of the American pancakes that resemble thick sandwiches with various fillings such as coklat (chocolate), keju, kacang (peanuts), durian, pisang (banana) and a combination of the fillings. I just discovered another flavor in a stall next to the supermarket I frequent. It’s caramel with grated cheese and chocolate sprinkles. Sizes available are single slice, mini and jumbo. An old Indonesian flat mate told me that putting it in the steamer is the best way to warm it up especially after it’s been in the refrigerator.

Pisang goreng (banana fritters) are sold virtually in every corner of Bekasi by the roving food vendors and their make-shift trolleys together with tauhu goreng (fried tofu), ube goreng (fried yam) and tempeh goreng (fried soybean cake). My friend is crazy over the tempeh goreng and ube goreng. I prefer to make my own banana fritters just like the way my late grand aunt used to make them – smothered with batter and fried until golden brown. For extra sweetness, my dad and I dip the fritters into brown sugar. Woo-hoo!