The keroncong-influenced music meets loud rumbles of vehicles passing by welcomes our visit to Restoran Trio Gondangdia. The air feels humid after a heavy rain in the morning, and the electrical fan does little to stop us from sweating. While the situation sounds less than perfect, it gives a sense of familiarity and timelessness that I’ve come to associate with Restoran Trio. After countless fancy restaurants and too-cool malls, this feels refreshing.
Born in 1947, Restoran Trio has remained in its birth location at the junction of Jl. R.P. Soeroso and Jl. Cikini IV ever since. It stubbornly keeps the forest green exterior and the antique-looking signage in a font you’ll never see in modern establishments. But more importantly, the restaurant has maintained the quality of food and attentive hospitality, two things that must have played an important part in its longevity.
Seventy years are definitely long enough to fine-tune 319 dishes offered on the simple black ink-on-white paper menu book. Expect an eclectic mix of every Indonesian-Chinese food imaginable, grouped by simple categories: fish, bird, shrimp, crab, chicken, beef, pork, duck, frog, vegetables, rice, or noodle. You might feel overwhelmed by the hundreds of choices, but don’t be shy to ask the batik shirt-clad staffs or do your own research online for pointers.
Laid out on the table are our lunch picks: Nasi Goreng Ham, Lumpia Udang ala Trio, and a touch of greens from Baby Kailan Cah Polo. Nasi Goreng Ham, fragrant fried rice with chunks of salty ham, is an absolute delight to the palate. Add that with the tasty gravy sauce and a slight bitterness from Baby Kailan Cah Polos, we can’t stop eating spoon after spoon until everything is finished. Although technically our stomach has ordered us to stop.
But the crème de la crème has got to be Lumpia Udang ala Trio. Eight pieces of block-shaped minced shrimp, beautifully fried until golden brown. Drizzle them in the sweet-sour sauce, have a bite, and try to resist an involuntary “hmm-hmm” sound out of your mouth. Simple and homey dishes can indeed never go wrong.
Restoran Trio Gondangdia is a textbook example of the saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” From the sturdy wooden chair that is probably as old as I am to the tried-and-test recipes, Restoran Trio is a constant in a sea of changes. Comfort in the middle of distress. Please stay that way and don’t ever change.
Restoran Trio Gondangdia is also featured in our Makan Apa di Menteng: From Vintage to Fresh article.