Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Tale of Two Martabaks

A must...if you find yourself in Jakarta. Don't attempt to buy this in restaurants or hotels, you'll regret it. Go to the warung (street vendor) and ignore the smog while waiting for your order. You'll soon forget that you're out on the street, sweating from the heat and waiting in line. Once you take a bite and sink your teeth into the freshly made martabak, you'll realize that it's worth the trouble. Still warm to the touch as you let out some of the steam from the box- these crepe-like squares are the perfect after office snack or even dinner for me. It's crispy on the outside, soft and flavor-full on the inside. Dipping this tasty crepe-like finger food in the accompanying vinegar-dip gives me more satisfaction than biting into a crispy chicharon (deep fried pork skin). I'd be happy if I could eat this everyday.

There was a ray of hope for a martabak-lover like me from Manila. My friend who was walking in the Mall of Asia (MOA) saw a restaurant called Martabak Cafe and hastily told me about it. Next thing you know, there I was with my mom and dad in tow eager to share with them my delight for this simple Indonesian dish. Looking at the restaurant from the outside, we could tell that the place was not inviting. Despite these warning signals, I forced my folks to try eating there even if my mom is quite a picky eater to say the least. My dad, well, I don't have to worry about him- he eats anything. So there I was eagerly waiting to dig-in and have them taste that wonderful martabak I've been raving about. To my horror and utter dismay, the martabak they served was the most unappetizing thing I've eaten. The thing was so oily, that it'll make your lips glisten from the oil. What a sham this thing was! It wasn't crispy at all. They were instead soft gummy squares dripping of oil. Oh my, they probably deep fried it while the oil wasn't hot enough which isn't the way it's cooked back in Jakarta. Lesson learned- don't settle for second-best EVER!

Just like anything else in life, whether it's getting into a relationship, choosing a job, or something trivial like selecting a restaurant, take note of the warning signs early on. Good thing this was just me eating martabak in a terrible restaurant which I later had to drown out with Hagendaas ice cream just to take the taste off my tongue.

Terrible restaurants like these are analogous to bad relationships, don't even think of going back there!

Martabak Cafe
Ground Floor Mall of Asia,
Pasay City

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