After 8 hours (yeap, 8 hours, that’s like traveling to Sydney by plane) on the road, thanks to the bad traffic, we finally arrived in Cirebon. I still remember that everyone was starting to get cranky. Who wouldn’t? We were on a mission of escaping Jakarta with its unbearable traffic only to find ourselves stuck in a worse traffic. Like, seriously? The only food we had during that long 8 hours were Pringles and Lays.
So, as soon as we exited the new highway that connects Jakarta and Cirebon, Lukas, our friend, who knows Cirebon inside out and who kindly offered himself to drive us around in Cirebon, took us to try Nasi Lengko.
Lukas had warned us that we might not gonna like Nasi Lengko. According to him, plenty of “Jakartans” don’t find this particular food as delicious and tasty as the other signature cuisines in Cirebon. So it’s really okay if we didn’t want to give it a try, considering that we were really hungry at that time it might be wise for us to just feed ourselves with something that is more guaranteed.
We convinced Lukas that we wanted to give it a try (and I made a promise to myself that if Nasi Lengko couldn’t satisfy my tastebuds I shall just deal with it). On the bright side, DR & I are not really that demanding when it comes to foods. Give us anything (well, not literally), we’ll eat it right away.
Nasi Lengko is basically rice served with tempeh (Indonesian soybean cake), tofu, bean sprouts, sliced cucumber with peanut sauce and soy sauce. We also ordered a portion of Sate Kambing (goat satay), just in case the Nasi Lengko didn’t impress us. Well, my first impression of Nasi Lengko was, not bad. But, I had to agree with plenty of other Jakartans who didn’t find this food impressive. It didn’t taste bad at all, it just tasted rather plain. I might not have a sudden crave towards Nasi Lengko. The Sate Kambing did more work in satisfying my tummy.
After finishing my portion I went out to get more photos. I was tempted to order a cup of durian ice cream as a dessert. But, remembering that I just had Sate Kambing, having a durian intake might not be the wisest thing to do haha. Cholesterol alert, people!
Later on that day, after having a nice shower at the hotel and a short nap. Lukas took us to Cirebon’s second-most famous cuisine after Empal Gentong, Nasi Jamblang (steamed rice wrapped in Java plum leave). You would find plenty of food trucks and even small restaurants selling Nasi Jamblang in almost every spot of the city. I have tried Nasi Jamblang before in my former visitation to Cirebon two years ago and this one tasted way better.
If you happen to visit Cirebon, you should really try Nasi Jamblang at Jl. Perujakan. It’s a decent place on the side of the road, consisting of one big table where they put all the side dishes in bowls that you can handpick to accompany your nasi jamblang, plus three wooden benches.
Some of the dishes that we would recommend for you to try are:
1. Cumi Hitam (black squid)
2. Perkedel Kentang (potato fritters) – this is really da bomb! 1 wouldn’t be enough for you, as we got ourselves 10 of it!
3. Paru (beef lung)
We fell in love deeply with it at the first bite, we quickly decided to go back tomorrow night before heading back to Jakarta. I actually still wanted to have the second round, but I gotta save my tummy because the culinary exploration didn’t stop there.
Roti Bakar (toast) Gaternia was next! It is famous for its ice choco milk, toast and also grilled banana with several toppings like cheese, choco sprinkles, condensed milk, peanut butter, eggs, canned corned beef, etc. Every menu they had screamed, “Fat! Fat! Fat!” loudly to my ear. I immediately put a reminder on my iPhone to not skip exercise once I’m back in Jakarta and burn all these calories intake.
I ordered the grilled banana with condensed milk, cheese and peanuts on top. While DR went for something salty. He ordered the toast with eggs, cheese and corned beef. To accompany our “sinful” night we ordered ice choco milk. On the other side of the world drinking milk and eating toast is considered as breakfast. But here in Indonesia, we love to enjoy it at night. As desserts. Sometimes, even after having a big dinner.
The moment I hopped into the car, I began to feel slightly bloated. All I could think of was closing my eyes and sleep. But, we still have one more food to try, Martabak (stuffed pancake). We ordered the thin and crunchy one, with chocolate filling. There were other filling such as cheese, nutella, ovomaltine and peanut butter. In Jakarta, you can also find martabak with red velvet and green tea filling. Yeap, Indonesians are that creative when it comes to food. Anyway, the martabak here in Cirebon is very cheap (IDR 25,000 per box) compared to the ones in Jakarta that would cost around IDR 100,000 per box. We decided to have this tomorrow as a take away to accompany our drive back to Jakarta.
Day 2 started a bit late. We enjoyed the long weekend too much we stayed in bed until Lukas called us and told us to get ready. No breakfast for us, as we headed right away for brunch. When you read that word “brunch” don’t imagine us having a fancy western country kind of brunch. We went to the ultimate signature cuisine of Cirebon, Empal Gentong. It is a spicy curry-like beef soup cooked in a clay pot (gentong). The soup consists of beef meat, intestine, tripes, lungs, etc and made out of coconut milk. Best served with rice and chilli powder. Oh, and we also had (Kerupuk Kulit) spicy cattle skin crackers to accompany our brunch.
We had one of the best tonguegasm experience the moment we sipped the soup, chewed the soft and juicy beef meat, and dipped the tasty skin crackers into the soup.
Next destination was, Mitang. The place was located in the local habitation in Cirebon. We had to park our car and walked across a small bridge that led us to a narrow street with colorful houses standing side by side. Mitang is a deep fried sliced potato powdered with several flavors like cheese, barbecue sauce, seaweed, corn flour (this is the best flavor, no kidding), etc. They sell them in little plastic bags for IDR 10,000 each.
As a number one fan of french fries, it didn’t take me too long to decide that I want more of this tasty and crunchy mitang. I realized that IDR 10,000 is not enough for my greedy tummy. I was very happy when Lukas told me that we can actually order mitang in a bigger portion and bring it back to Jakarta. DR & I quickly placed our order, each of us bought ourselves IDR 50,000 of mitang (that is 5 times the normal size). I grinned happily as I left the place.
Few hours later, after some exploration around the city, Lukas took us to try Mie Koclok (shook noodle). It’s actually a chicken noodle, but the soup is made out of chicken broth, coconut milk and tapioca. This made the white-colored and extra-thick soup looks similar to a porridge. The noodle had chicken breast, bean sprouts, hard boiled egg and fried shallot. Mie Koclok is definitely a must have and a come back material.
Before leaving Cirebon we went back to Nasi Jamblang and satisfied our tummy knowing that we would not be able to taste it again in quite a long run. It felt as if I was saying goodbye to someone I deeply fell in love with. After Nasi Jamblang, we had the Martabak for take away, and we also went back to Mitang to take our orders.
Cirebon, you’ve been spoiling my tongue and tummy in such a way that no Michellin-starred restaurant could ever substitute. I would definitely keep you as one of the easiest culinary getaway whenever I have the opportunity to revisit you.
Write to you later,