Food

From the Yums to the Yucks: Coconuts Jakarta reheats 10 memorable food stories

They say (deservedly so) that Jakarta is the microcosm of Indonesian cuisine. They also say that Coconuts Jakarta is the leading English language guide into that delectable, wondrous, and occasionally strange culinary world.

Since our city site launched in 2014, we have guided our readers on a journey through some of the capital the country’s food trends as well as their legendary mainstays. Wondering where to eat the best rendang? We got you covered with our ‘Best Padang restaurants’ listicle, fam. Want to think outside the box for your next Indomie meal? Look up our extensive coverage of unique instant noodle creations for inspiration.

To celebrate Coconuts’ 10th anniversary this month, we are looking back, in no particular order, on the 10 most memorable F&B stories that helped shaped us into becoming more than just a news website. We have thoroughly enjoyed writing about (and sampling) food over all these years, so here’s to another delicious decade of Coconuts Jakarta ahead!

1. Best Padang restaurants in Jakarta: Where to eat the most delicious rendang, sambalado, ayam pop, and more (2017)

Photo: Instagram/@rivianaa
Photo: Instagram/@rivianaa

Aside from Padang itself, you’d be hard pressed to find any Padang restaurants that serve rendang, sambalado, and ayam pop better than they do in Jakarta. Perhaps that is why our listicle compiling the best Padang restaurants in the capital, which includes established franchises like Sederhana and hidden gems like Sepakat, is among our most popular food guides ever.

2. The Boba Recap: 14 new(ish) bubble tea shops in Jakarta, from famous Taiwanese chains to homegrown brands (2019)

Several new boba brands in Jakarta. Can you spot your favorite? Photo: Instagram/@onezo.id, @kokumi_id, @banban.tea, @heychaofficial, @xingfutang_indonesia
Several new boba brands in Jakarta. Can you spot your favorite? Photo: Instagram/@onezo.id, @kokumi_id, @banban.tea, @heychaofficial, @xingfutang_indonesia

We’ve probably come down somewhat from the pre-pandemic sugary heights of the boba craze, yet this listicle deserves special mention for being the most popular guide for drinks that we’ve ever published. That’s especially impressive considering no alcohol went into the making of these drinks.

3. #ThankYouOJOL: Indonesians pay tribute to delivery drivers for bringing them the McDonald’s BTS Meal (2021)

Delivery drivers queueing for the BTS Meal outside a McDonald's restaurant in Cimahi, West Java on June 9, 2021. Photo: Instagram/@infocimahi.co
Delivery drivers queueing for the BTS Meal outside a McDonald’s restaurant in Cimahi, West Java on June 9, 2021. Photo: Instagram/@infocimahi.co

Few outside the Kpop fandom phenomenon understand it, but Jakarta was also engulfed in McDonald’s BTS Meal fever. But with the special edition chicken nuggets only available via delivery, it was the city’s unsung heroes — motorcycle taxi drivers — who braved long queues and lack of social distancing to appease eternally grateful BTS fans.

4. Culinary Pride vs ‘Columbusing’: The reactions to Gordon Ramsay’s Indonesian visit (2020)

Gordon Ramsay (Right) with William Wongso. Photo: National Geographic
Gordon Ramsay (Right) with William Wongso. Photo: National Geographic

Did we need our cuisine to be “discovered” by Gordon Ramsay? Amid those who appreciated the culinary superstar helping put Indonesian cuisine on the global map, there were some who did not quite appreciate the idea that western validation is necessary in this case.

5. Nunuk Nuraini, the woman behind Indomie’s iconic flavors, dies at 59 (2021)

It’s a sad day for instant noodle lovers in Indonesia and all around the world as we mourn the passing of Nunuk Nuraini, the inventor of Indomie’s various flavors. She was 59 years old. Photo: Twitter/@lailadimyati
It was a sad day for instant noodle lovers in Indonesia and all around the world as we mourn the passing of Nunuk Nuraini, the inventor of Indomie’s various flavors. She was 59 years old. Photo: Twitter/@lailadimyati

It wasn’t all about the yums at Coconuts Jakarta. Sometimes, we had to stop and pay tribute to certain heroes in the food industry. Heroes like Nunuk Nuraini, who earlier this year passed away after gifting the world of Indomie’s iconic flavors.

6. VIRAL: Is this Indomie cake an act of culinary genius or an edible abomination? (2017)

Indomie cake by tot.aw in Kelapa Gading. Photo: @tot.aw / Instagram
Indomie cake by tot.aw in Kelapa Gading. Photo: @tot.aw / Instagram

The global appetite for Indomie is such that we regularly see unique takes on the beloved Indonesian instant noodles. Before there was Indomie-flavored ice cream, our world was rocked by the invention of the Indomie cake, which people couldn’t decide was an act of culinary genius or an edible abomination. To us, it’s pretty simple: the more Indomie, the better.

7. Newcomer Accha gains popularity with Indian cuisine for Indonesian taste buds (2020)

Several dishes from new Indian takeaway chain Accha: Butter Chicken on top of basmati rice (pink bowl), Garlic Naan, and Saag Paneer. Photo: Nadia Hamid for Coconuts Jakarta
Several dishes from new Indian takeaway chain Accha: Butter Chicken on top of basmati rice (pink bowl), Garlic Naan, and Saag Paneer. Photo: Nadia Hamid for Coconuts Jakarta

Decent Indian food is relatively hard to come by in the capital, especially an affordable option. So Jakartans were stoked — at least judging by the popularity of our review — when Accha arrived to offer butter chicken and naan bread that is accessible to all, even if the flavors may have been adjusted for local tongues somewhat.

8. End of a McEra: Indonesia’s first McDonald’s restaurant in Central Jakarta’s Sarinah to close permanently (2020)

The historic McDonald’s restaurant in Sarinah, Central Jakarta closed for good almost 30 years since it opened. The outlet is the first McDonald’s store to open in Indonesia, opening the country up to the good and the bad of the Golden Arches on February 23, 1991. Photo: Facebook/McDonald's Indonesia
The historic McDonald’s restaurant in Sarinah, Central Jakarta closed for good almost 30 years since it opened. The outlet is the first McDonald’s store to open in Indonesia, opening the country up to the good and the bad of the Golden Arches on February 23, 1991. Photo: Facebook/McDonald’s Indonesia

Jakarta may have numerous iconic restaurants, but it may surprise many that one of its most famous was a McDonald’s — specifically, the first outlet for the fast food chain in the country. The outlet was so iconic that thousands came by to say farewell (and take selfies) on its last day in 2020, leading to a huge fine for McDonald’s for breaching COVID-19 protocol.

9. Indonesians and Malaysians unite to roast Masterchef UK judges over rendang ignorance (2018)

Padangnese beef rendang.
Padangnese beef rendang.

Indonesians and Malaysians might not always get along, but they united over rendang pride and roasted the judges of Masterchef UK for saying that the legendary dish requires crispy chicken skin. What idiots. Now, at the risk of annoying our Malaysian friends, can we all agree to always use beef — and never chicken — in rendang?

10. Indonesian man grieves as father fries expensive arowana pet fish for lunch (2020)

Imagine the shock of learning that your beloved pet fish has been cooked for the delicious enjoyment of your family. That’s what happened to Bayu, a man from Central Java’s Sukoharjo regency, whose tragedy of losing his arowana drew sympathy from many in a nation obsessed with the prized pet fish.

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