Bungai Rampai Restaurant: Jakarta, West Java

Being the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta is a huge city and the one good thing about this is that there are plenty of restorans, warungs etc where one can imbibe in the delicacies of the archipelago. There are always new restorans opening up and one of these is Bungai Rampai in Menteng.

Here’s an excellent review of this interesting restoran by Aman Khan. I have to check this place out when I get to Jakarta as it seems perfect. I am a sucker for home-cooked foods!. Let me know what you think:

Life is a constant struggle to steer clear of cliches, assumptions and generalizations. With food, this is especially true. But I can’t help it. When I think of Indonesian food, I think of down-to-earth, but delicious, meals in spartan settings.

Indonesian food is essentially “village” cuisine — fresh, simple ingredients, combined with a subtle blend of spices, resulting in a delicious, inexpensive meal.

The really tasty meals are to be found in homes and at food stalls scattered across the country. I’d always thought eating only becomes a grand affair in Indonesia when communal feasts are held to celebrate family occasions, such as weddings, funerals and circumcisions, or harvest and religious feasts.

Bungai Rampai, a new restaurant serving a mix of Indonesian cuisine, attempts being grand while embracing local cuisine.
The restaurant is housed in a classic white colonial building built in the early 1900s, but revamped recently, and interior designer, Agam Riadi tried to preserve the authenticity of the building and history, while keeping the interior modern and approachable.

With the colonial-inspired interiors, the restaurant is based on the aesthetics of classical style. Entering the place is like entering an old country house in the hills of Puncak or Bogor. It’s very white, with old paintwork and floral wallpaper, along with unassuming good taste.

Located in Menteng, the center of Jakarta, Bungai Rampai is trying to preserve and to promote the image and quality of traditional foods from all over the archipelago. Do they achieve this? On a functionary level, you could say yes.

It’s the type of establishment that serves a little bit of everything satisfactorily without really hitting the heights of the respective cuisines of Indonesia.

The menu is a mix of Javanese, Sumatran, Sulewesian and Dutch. With the appetizers, you have pempek sutra Palembang, a widely popular fish cake that hails from this city in Sumatra. This deep-fried delicacy is complemented by traditional yellow noodles, diced cucumber, dried shrimp and a palm vinaigrette dressing.

Snacks include the perennial Dutch favorites, bitterballen (a savory Dutch meat-based snack, typically containing a mixture of minced beef and veal, beef broth, flour and butter for thickening, parsley, salt and pepper) and kroket (a parcel of food such as minced meat or vegetables, shaped into a cylinder or circle, encased in bread crumbs and deep fried).

The soups include coto Makassar, hailing from Sulawesi, this hearty broth is generously flavored with Indonesian herbs, diced beef and freshly selected vegetables. The obligatory nasi gorengs are on the menu, with a choice of a nasi goreng kampoeng or a nasi goreng rasa laut (seafood fried rice) — both are tasty dishes.

The sop buntut, the traditional Indonesian dish which offers braised oxtail with a hearty beef and vegetable broth, lacked substance. The broth was missing flavor and the meat was too tough. It could have done with at least another hour of braising to make the meat tender enough to enjoy.

Where they do score points though, is with the ayam anyelir. The spiced dusted chicken is grilled to perfection and coated with a piquant curry sauce that is spicy and spirited.

Bungai Rampai is also suitable for private events such as weddings and birthdays. With a capacity for 120 persons (seated) or 300 (standing), it also includes two private rooms and a lounge for those looking to snack without having a full meal. The service is hospitable and focused and they’ve done right with the atmosphere and design.

And just maybe they have done enough to rid of me of my assumption about where I should be eating Indonesian food. Maybe.

* Average
** Good
*** Excellent
**** Extraordinary

Bungai Rampai Restaurant
Jalan Teuku Cik Ditiro 35
Menteng Jakarta 10310.
Tel. 3192 6224