Have you ever felt conflicted when your foreigner friends ask you to take them around Jakarta? This is where Padang Merdeka swoops in and save the day. No longer you have to take your friend to Kota Tua, then drive again to a nice Padang restaurant where said friend will have less chance of getting stomachache. Both Padang food and Kota Tua are on the “must” list in Jakarta for any foreigner, and thanks to Padang Merdeka, you can enjoy both in one location.
Situated within walking distance from Museum Fatahillah and the rest of Kota Tua, Padang Merdeka stands out with its big red sign right across BNI. When you choose to drive a car there, do not to miss the “Lada No. 1” sign before the restaurant because that’s where you can park. But you can always ditch the car and take the Transjakarta bus when traffic is too much to handle.
Padang Merdeka certainly has its differences from your ordinary neighborhood Padang restaurant. It seems cleaner, for one. Gone are the white tables and simple walls, replaced by posh-looking wooden furnitures and paintings of Indonesian heroes. No worries, the real Padang food experience is still intact: No menu book. Food is served in waves of plates, carried by handy waiters to your table. All you have to do sit and eat to your heart’s content.
Despite the somewhat sophisticated atmosphere, dining at Padang Merdeka is pretty competitive when it comes to price. For example, Ayam Pop costs a cool IDR 19.5K, and Rendang IDR 20K. It is tricky to talk about taste as everyone has different preferences, but the general rule here is to expect twists from your favorite Padang food. It is the first time I’ve ever had salty Sayur Singkong, for instance. Their Ayam Pop is also one of a kind. If I closed my eyes and ate it, I would think I was eating Ayam Opor instead of Ayam Pop because of its rich coconut milk seasonings.
Padang Merdeka offers everything you’d hope to find at Padang restaurant, served in a modern packaging. It is a great introduction to Padang food and Indonesian culture for tourists who visit Kota Tua. Padang Merdeka is also a meal option for office workers around the area, as proven by the lunch crowd. The restaurant is spacious and plenty of seats are available, but if you’re vying for those two tables by the window, make sure to avoid peak hours ?
Address: Jalan Lada No. 1
Google Maps: Click Here
Photos by Jeloy Tirie