Jakarta is a city that boasts an incredible range of food options. Among the many culinary offerings, Chinese food has become a beloved cuisine in Jakarta. From classic dishes to innovative fusion creations, there are plenty of options for foodies to explore. In this article, we will delve into the best Chinese food in Jakarta, including its history, must-try dishes, top restaurants, and more.
A Brief History of Chinese Cuisine in Jakarta
Chinese cuisine has deep roots in Jakarta, dating back to the arrival of the first Chinese settlers in the 17th century. These early settlers brought with them their culinary traditions that would go on to influence Indonesian cuisine. Over time, Chinese food in Jakarta evolved to include local ingredients and cooking techniques, resulting in unique culinary creations that are favoured by locals and tourists alike.
Early Chinese Settlers and Their Culinary Influence
The influence of Chinese cuisine on Indonesian food can be seen in the use of soy sauce, noodles, and other ingredients in Indonesian dishes. The earliest Chinese settlers in Jakarta opened restaurants and food markets, introducing dishes such as nasi goreng (fried rice) and bakmi goreng (stir-fried noodles) to the local cuisine. These dishes quickly became popular and were adopted by the locals, leading to the creation of new dishes that combined Chinese and Indonesian flavours.
One such dish is the popular Chinese-Indonesian dish called cap cai, which is a stir-fry of mixed vegetables, meat, and seafood. It originated in the Chinese community in Jakarta and has since become a staple in Indonesian cuisine. Another dish that has become popular in Jakarta is the Chinese-style steamed buns, or mantou, which are often filled with pork or vegetables.
The Evolution of Chinese Food in Jakarta
Today, Chinese food in Jakarta has taken on a life of its own. It has become a diverse culinary genre, with regional specialities and unique fusion creations. From street food to fine dining, the options for Chinese food lovers in Jakarta are endless.
One popular regional speciality is the Hokkien-style noodles, known as bakmi. These noodles are typically served with savoury broth, meat, and vegetables. Another regional speciality is dim sum, which is a type of small bite-sized food that is usually served in steamer baskets. Dim sum is often enjoyed as a brunch or lunch option and can be found in many Chinese restaurants throughout Jakarta.
In recent years, there has been a rise in the popularity of Chinese fusion cuisine in Jakarta. This type of cuisine combines Chinese and Indonesian flavours, resulting in unique dishes that are not found anywhere else. One such dish is Chinese-style fried rice with rendang, which is a fusion of Chinese fried rice and Indonesian rendang beef curry. Another popular fusion dish is the Chinese-style pork belly with sambal, which combines a Chinese-style pork belly with spicy Indonesian sambal sauce.
In conclusion, Chinese cuisine has a rich history in Jakarta and has influenced Indonesian cuisine in many ways. From the early settlers who introduced Chinese dishes to the locals to the evolution of Chinese food in Jakarta, Chinese cuisine has become an integral part of the culinary landscape in Jakarta. With its diverse regional specialities and unique fusion creations, Chinese food in Jakarta continues to delight locals and tourists alike.
Top Chinese Restaurants in Jakarta
If you’re looking for a high-end dining experience, Jakarta doesn’t disappoint.
Li Feng at the Mandarin Oriental
One of the top fine-dining Chinese restaurants in the city is Li Feng at the Mandarin Oriental. The restaurant serves classic Cantonese dishes alongside contemporary creations, all in a luxurious setting.
Xin Hwa Restaurant
Another top pick is the Xin Hwa Restaurant at Pullman Jakarta Indonesia. This restaurant offers a range of Chinese dishes, including dim sum, Szechuan hot pot, and Peking duck.
Kopi Es Tak Kie in Glodok
On the other end of the spectrum, Jakarta offers plenty of affordable Chinese eateries. One such example is Kopi Es Tak Kie in Glodok, which is one of the oldest coffee shops in Jakarta. The restaurant serves classic Chinese dishes such as kwetiau goreng (fried flat rice noodles) and lumpia (spring rolls). If you’re looking for a casual and budget-friendly spot, this is a great option.
Lamian Palace in Hayam Wuruk
For those who want to explore the more under-the-radar Chinese restaurants in Jakarta, there are plenty of hidden gems and local favourites to discover. One such spot is Lamian Palace in Hayam Wuruk. They specialize in hand-pulled noodles and have a variety of noodle dishes to choose from. They serve a wide range of Chinese noodle dishes, from spicy dan dan noodles to savoury beef noodles.
Must-Try Chinese Dishes in Jakarta
Signature Dishes of Jakarta’s Chinese Cuisine
When it comes to must-try dishes in Jakarta’s Chinese cuisine, there are a few classics that you don’t want to miss. One such dish is the aforementioned nasi goreng, which is a staple in Indonesian cuisine. Another must-try dish is the bakmi ayam, which are thin egg noodles served with chicken and vegetables in a savoury broth. Other popular dishes include siomay (fish dumplings), kwetiau siram (stir-fried flat rice noodles with egg gravy), and cap cay (Chinese-style stir-fry vegetables).
Unique Fusion Dishes
For those who want to try something a bit more innovative, Jakarta offers a range of unique fusion dishes that blend Chinese flavours with other culinary traditions. One example is the “sate taichan,” which is a grilled chicken skewer seasoned with spicy Szechuan sauce. Another fusion creation is the crispy pork belly bao, which combines crispy pork belly with fluffy steamed buns.
Vegetarian and Vegan Options
For vegetarians and vegans, Jakarta’s Chinese restaurants have plenty of options. One such option is the Ahimsa Garden restaurant in Grand Indonesia, which serves plant-based versions of classic Chinese dishes such as kung pao chicken and sweet and sour pork.
Exploring Jakarta’s Chinatown: Glodok
A Culinary Tour of Glodok
Finally, no article on the best Chinese food in Jakarta would be complete without a visit to Glodok. This vibrant neighbourhood is Jakarta’s Chinatown and is home to a plethora of Chinese restaurants and food markets. A culinary tour of Glodok is a must-try experience. Along the way, you can sample a variety of Chinese dishes, from street food snacks to sit-down meals.
Street Food Delights in Glodok
One of the best things about Glodok is the street food scene. There are so many options to choose from, including the classic siomay and bakso (meatball soup). You can also try dishes such as the flat rice noodle soup or the fried tofu served with peanut sauce. Whatever you decide to try, you’re guaranteed to have a taste bud-pleasing experience.
Shopping for Chinese Ingredients and Souvenirs
In addition to the food, Glodok is also a great place to shop. There are plenty of Chinese food markets where you can find a wide variety of ingredients, from spices to sauces. You can also find other interesting souvenirs, such as Chinese tea sets and decorative items. It’s the perfect place to pick up some unique gifts or ingredients to take home.
Summing It Up
In conclusion, Jakarta’s Chinese food scene is one that should not be missed. With its diverse range of cuisines, top-notch restaurants, and delightful street food, it has plenty to offer for foodies and travellers alike. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start exploring the best Chinese food in Jakarta!