Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Gado-Gado Bonbin & Gado-Gado Boplo, Jakarta

Another awesome dish from Indonesia.
Gado-gado Bonbin

Another reason to be proud of Indonesian culinary treasures.

Gado-gado is Indonesian-style vegetable salad, usually consisting of lettuce, beansprout, steamed potato, boiled egg, fried tofu, corn kernels, spinach, cucumber, lontong (compressed steamed rice in banana leaf); smothered with thick peanut sauce and topped with prawn and melinjo crackers. The peanut sauce pretty much provides the flavour, but the freshness of the other ingredients plays a significant part as well.

If I'm not mistaken, there are two types of gado-gado: gado-gado ulek (the ingredients are mixed and crushed straight with the peanut sauce on the pestle) and gado-gado siram (the ingredients are cut first, then the peanut sauce is poured generously).

Here are the two gado-gado I've tried since I got home.

Gado-gado Bonbin

It's one of the most famous gado-gado restaurants in Jakarta, they've been serving since 1960 at the same exact place. There used to be a zoo nearby, and the street name was 'Kebon Binatang' ('zoo' in English), thus the restaurant's name. It's run by a friendly couple, the husband seems to do most of the assembling/serving.

Bonbin signage

Gado-Gado Bonbin owner

The place is far from luxurious description. It looks old with old-school furniture and smudged ceilings and walls. However, judging from the queue and (almost) always occupied chairs, the people don't seem to care.

Top: menu, bottom: dining area

They have other menus as well which I managed to take photos of, but it's the salad that gives them the good name.

L: nasi rames (rice mixed with various side dishes), R: lontong sayur (compressed steamed rice with beef/chicken, in coconut milk & spices soup)

The assembly is done outside the dining room, by the skilled and quick hands of the uncle. I had to wait for about 20 mins for my take-away salad, as the dining room was full house.

Making gado-gado

Having tasted the legendary salad, I'll say that gado-gado Bonbin is my most favourite so far. The ingredients taste quite fresh, and the peanut sauce rocks my world with being not too thick, creamy, smooth and flavourful. Enjoyed with crunchy crackers, it's a salad that forces me to take another mouthful over and over again, which very rarely happens between me and a salad.

bonbin-gadogado (2)
Gado-gado Bonbin - IDR 25,000 ($2.5)

Gado-gado Boplo

This one's obviously much fancier than the precious, apparent from the big, white building, with elegant, modern decorations and furniture inside. The restaurant, which has number of branches in Indonesia, has more varied Indonesian menus.

Gado-Gado Boplo restaurant, Serpong

Clockwise from top left: unique ceiling, interior, menu, more seating

Gado-gado Boplo uses cashew nuts for the sauce, hence the creamier flavour compared to Bonbin's. However, my heart is still on Bonbin's. This one's really good too, though, fresh ingredients with creamy, nutty, and tasty sauce.

Gado-gado Boplo with lontong - IDR 23,000 ($2.3)

The family also tried a few menus:

Soto ayam (Indonesian turmeric-based soup with chicken, vermicelli, ice berg lettuce, and boiled egg) - a belly-warming dish, the broth is light and refreshing.

Ketoprak (Indonesian-style vermicelli salad with beansprout, fried tofu, potato, boiled egg, and crackers) - seems to use the same peanut sauce as the gado-gado, but somehow is richer in terms of flavour. There are more crackers as well.

Asinan sayur (Indonesian pickled vegetables salad, with watery peanut sauce and cracker) - really fresh and has acidic bites, the sauce is excellent and has perfect consistency.

Es cendol (green worm-like jelly, enjoyed with coconut milk, brown sugar, and ice) - one of my fav Indonesian desserts/drinks. Sweet and savoury at the same time, with wobbly little green worms.

Clockwise from top left: soto ayam, ketoprak (IDR 21,000/$2.1), asinan sayur (IDR 21,000/$2.1), es cendol (IDR 12,000/$1.2)

Long story short, although both gado-gado are examples of the gado-gado siram type, I still prefer Bonbin's. Have you tried gado-gado? Do you have any favourite? Do share!


Gado-Gado Bonbin: 4/5 (Recommended)
Extraordinary gado-gado, friendly and rather quick service, price is reasonable, ambiance is unique but may be a slight turn off if you don't like grimy environment, and you may have to wait for table when peak hours.

Gado-Gado Boplo: 3.5/5 (Really worth the try)
Good gado-gado but even better ketoprak, clean and nice ambiance, service can be a bit slow when busy, price is reasonable.



Jl. Cikini No. 5
Jakarta Pusat (Central Jakarta)

Phone: (021) 3141539

Trading hours: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.


Raya Serpong KM 8 No. 7

Phone: (021) 5312 3597, 5312 3498


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  1. i dont think gado2 boplo is delicious enough :D
    cant wait for your next foodyyy post

    want to check my new necklaces post?



    1. Bonbin's better!
      Thanks for dropping by, Grace! :D

  2. Cikini itu jauh gak sih ren? hahaha. yg BonBin itu kyknya enak deh.

    1. Dr gue sih jauh Cend, deket TIM sono hahaha. emang enak! patut dicoba deh :)

  3. Ah, I've been hearing about Gado Gado a lot. I ought to try it one of these days. (Indonesia newbie here).

    1. You should! if you love salad you'll love it :)
      Thanks for dropping by, Wander Woman! :D

  4. What is the best place to get Gado-Gado near Grand Hyatt Jakarta?


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