Saturday, 18 February 2012

Sate Ayam and Buah Lontar, Jakarta's Street Food

Again with the much lovable street food.
Chicken satays on the grill

The reason I keep writing about them is because I miss them so much. Only two weeks in Sydney and the food I have been craving for the most is Jakarta's street food. Oh dear.

Won't say anything more about my love to this kind of food, just read on and be ready to drool.


Sate ayam (chicken satay)

What is it?

Sate or satay is a renowned dish, which has been served in many countries around the globe. Satay is basically sliced meat on a skewer and the grilled over charcoal until it has a nice caramelization. Different kind of meat has been served as satays, such as chicken, beef, goat/lamb, seafood, tofu, and many more.

But this is Indonesian satay that I am talking about. Indonesia is said to be the home of satay, and I can't agree more. I have never found any satay in Sydney better than the ones in Indo, and I believe I won't.

Satay can be found almost everywhere in Indonesia, but the best stall in my neighbourhood is this sate Pak Arip (Mr. Arip satay stall). It is a very simple stall, made by connecting metal poles and covering them with a large sheeting. It looks like a tent, really.

Pak Arip (Mr Arip) sate stall

How is it served?

Satays are usually served with ketupat (steamed compressed rice in woven coconut leaves). After grilling the satays into perfection, they are put on a plate along with sliced ketupat, and then doused with savoury peanut sauce. To add more fancy, drizzles of kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), acar (pickled veggies; cucumber, carrot and shallots), and fried shallots are given. And there you have a hearty meal on a rainy afternoon.

Ketupat (steamed compressed rice in woven coconut leaves)

How does it taste?

A must-try dish, this is. The chicken on skewers are tender and nicely charred, also very well seasoned. One skewer only has two pieces of meat, and one piece of chicken skin. The peanut sauce is admirably rich and creamy, with all the grounded peanuts. Ketupat provides a nice plainness, a great counterbalance for all the robust flavour. If you want some more punches, spicy chilli sauce and lime wedges are there.

A plate of satays+ketupat

How much does it cost?

Pretty cheap, if you dine in a street stall like this. One chicken satay may only cost IDR 1,000 - IDR 1,500 ($0.15 - $0.16). One fat ketupat is only IDR 2,000 ($0.2) here.

Where can I find it?

Almost anywhere in Indonesia, and there are a great number of satay stalls in Jakarta itself. Many restaurants have included them in their menus as well, but the street ones are better tasting in my opinion.

Buah lontar (lontar fruit)

What is it?

Lontar (Borassus flabellifer) is included in the palm family, and some people called them siwalan. It is said to be an identity floral of South Borneo. 

The fruits are what I am talking about here. They are quite big, about 4 to 7 inches in diameter. They have a hard and very thick shell, yet only contain one little edible part in each.

Buah lontar (lontar fruit)

How does it served?

By peeling them first, of course. It is quite hard now to find a lontar vendor around, so when the mother found one, she bought some and brought them, unpeeled, home.

After discarding the hard, black part

A very sharp knife is very recommended to be used to open this tricky fruit, as it has some layers of skins enveloping the soft part. The mother had done a very well job, however.

Mother's peeling the fruits

How does it taste?

It is very similar with kolang-kaling (Arenga pinnata), but tastier and sweeter. The fruit is smooth yet firm, and has hollow innards which is filled with sweet liquid. The sweetness is very subtle though, and that is why I love to have many of these as snacks as they don't induce guilty feelings afterwards.

Peeled lontar

The younger fruit has more delicate texture, which makes them more enjoyable to eat than the older ones.

Hollow innards

How much does it cost?

Pretty cheap, one fruit for merely IDR 2,000 - IDR 3,000 ($0.2 - $0.3).

Where can I find it?

You probably can't find lontar vendor around fancy neighbourhoods. As a matter of fact, you may have difficulty finding them at most places. These have become very rare, but do check out Pancoran area (a subdistrict of South Jakarta), I believe there are some lontar vendors there. The main place that has many vendors of this unique fruit is at Mangga Dua area, around the road across Ancol entrance. Heaps of vendors there, but good luck if you want to buy them as there's no way you can park your car or motorcycle there.


I do hope that this post may give you some information about one of Indonesia's fruit. Have any of you ever tried lontar before? As for satay, I am sure many of you have had some taste of that authentic dish.



Just across Superindo supermarket
Jl. Permata Taman Palem Blok C-01 
Taman Palem, Jakarta Barat

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  1. Useful information ..I am very happy to read this article..thanks for giving us this useful information. Fantastic walk-through. I appreciate this post.

  2. Siwalan is my fav fruit ever... it brings the wonderful memories where my mom would buy 1 for me right before we watched movies at Glodok.... yes, it's near impossible to find them now *sob* the canned version which is called sea coconut really just does nothing to justify how deliscious the real fruit is..... slurpppppp


    1. Hi Liverella!
      yes, it is such a waste, isn't it? I've never tried the canned ones but I'm sure it will never surpass the fresh fruit! :)


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