Senyum Indonesia—a simple name with deep meaning and honorable intentions. Putting a spotlight on Indonesian food is a common occurrence these days, but Senyum Indonesia has got to be one of the few that showcases that many dishes from numerous provinces of our country. The menu book is sixteen pages long, not to mention there is a monthly Menu Kejutan (surprise menu).
The catchphrase “Cerita Rempah Indonesia” is perhaps a mirror of how the owner and food curator of Senyum Indonesia has traveled all around Indonesia. She finds that food reflects the spices that grow locally, the people, and the culture. The friendly staffs of Senyum Indonesia will also tell you how the team works directly with a source from each area the dish originates from. It goes as far as periodically flying raw, half-cooked, or even cooked ingredients to ensure uniqueness and originality of taste.
Senyum Indonesia offers a wide range of meal including breakfast (Bubur Sumsum, Bakmi Ayam, and the likes) and heavy mains (Nasi Goreng Cakalang, Bebek Betutu, and many more). But it is snacks, dessert, and drinks that peak our curiosity the most.
Cirebon-style Ketan Bumbu, served over banana leaf, is pandan-infused sticky rice topped with fried coconut flakes and bubuk kedelai. It is sweet with a hint of spiciness from the toppings. The flavor is very much true to ones sold at traditional markets. Meanwhile, Tau Suan is a mung bean-based dessert from Pontianak, West Kalimantan. The mung bean is served without skin inside a soupy liquid made of tapioca, sugar, and pandan. Tau Suan also tastes sweet, but overall balanced with savory ca kwee. This one will be a hit for mung bean lovers.
Drink is a bit trickier to choose. A lot of the options are fascinating and new for us, such as Teh Kampul Jeruk from Solo and Kopi Thahlil from Pekalongan. Eventually Teh Telur from Padang wins the day. A cup of hot black tea is mixed with beaten egg yolks, creating a foam on top. The traditional way to go is adding a squeeze of lime, but for first timers, we’d say go easy on the lime and enjoy Teh Telur as it is. Teh Telur is warming and energizing with a tinge of savoriness. No weird smell at all.
Price indeed might seem a bit steep at first, but don’t forget to take the prime location, and how the food arrives from different corners of Indonesia, into consideration. I’ll definitely come back to Senyum Indonesia the next time the need to try some new Indonesian food strikes, and also to try their savory dishes.
Senyum Indonesia has done a great job in introducing less-known Indonesian food to Jakarta foodies, yet still leaving a room for the usual crowd pleasers. It is the place to be when you’re looking for a culinary trip from East to West Indonesia at the same time, which is particularly helpful when you’re coming with a foreigner. In one table, you get to explore the diversity and different nuances of Indonesian food. Art enthusiasts are also welcome to take a peek at the gallery slash shop on the second floor that focuses on artisanal crafts.
Address: Jl. Teluk Betung No. 45, Thamrin, Central Jakarta
Price Range: IDR 7-230K (food & snacks), IDR 18-35 (beverage)
Google Maps: Click Here
Photography by Jeloy Tirie