What gives a restaurant bragging rights? Good food, for sure. Longevity, obviously. Here’s one more reason that is harder to achieve: The President has dined at your place. Soto Betawi Haji Ma’ruf at Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM) is indeed on the must-visit list for Soto Betawi hunters, but it does not hurt that Jokowi a.k.a Mr. President has been there once. That day has been immortalized in a photograph, now hanging proudly on the walls of the restaurant. Bragging rights? Yes, definitely.
Before residing in its current location in TIM, Soto Betawi Haji Ma’ruf has moved a lot, although still within Menteng area. Ma’ruf Senior started selling soto from one area to another by foot in early 1940s. He even had to stop the business for a while during Japanese colonial period. Hard work prevails, and decades later it remains one of the go-to places for Soto Betawi with its two additional outlets.
Unlike other soto places that focus solely on soto, Soto Betawi Haji Ma’ruf also offers other dishes, namely Laksa Betawi, Ayam Goreng, and Sate. First let’s take a look at their signature dish, Soto Betawi. Having tasted this dish at various places, we have to say that Haji Ma’ruf’s falls in the middle. It gives you everything you’d expect from Soto Betawi: nice santan broth, tender meat, and fragrant. Nothing in particular stands out in terms of flavor, but still a good bowl nonetheless.
Similar to their Soto Betawi, Haji Ma’ruf’s Sate Kambing also finds a similar fate. The meat is well-grilled, tastes clean, and slightly chewy. It will not rock your world, but you’ll be able to finish everything, especially when hot rice is present.
Despite the high profile clientele, we agree that Soto Betawi Haji Ma’ruf is not revolutionary when it comes to taste. But perhaps that’s part of the appeal: no-frill, no-fuss, just simple Soto Betawi with safe flavors. The place is also the cleanest out of the other legendary soto places, meaning it’s the perfect place to take your foreigner friends to ease them into Indonesian street food.
Soto Betawi Haji Ma’ruf TIM
Also featured on our Tried & Tested: Legendary Soto Betawi in Jakarta article
Address: Kompleks Taman Ismail Marzuki, Jl. Cikini Raya No. 73, Central Jakarta
Price Range: Soto starts at IDR 38K
Google Maps: Click Here
Photography by Lukas Manuel