At Mal Ambassador, who needs shelves when you can have floor perfume? This method of displaying stock is also particularly popular with shoe and handbag sellers at other working class malls like Mangga Dua… even though they are selling genuine Louis Vitton and Gucci apparently. Sometimes they even use elastic bands to keep the pairs of shoes together. Handy.
Today I decided to appreciate Mal Ambassador. Even though I was feeling a bit sick with sniffles, I had to get some groceries so I headed there. It's one of my favourites in Jakarta now, because it's a working class mall where you can buy everything from fake perfume to fake software, DVDs and CDs (not that I would ever be that naughty cos piracy is really bad and stuff), as well as do your groceries at the Carrefour hypermarket and eat something Indonesian at the food court. A one stop shop.
As much as this expression sounds like it comes from a bad wildlife documentary, it's teeming with life.
The food court is particularly spesh, it kind of resembles a hawker centre in Singapore really, with heaps of little shops selling food from all over Indonesia. And it's really big… much bigger than a similar one I saw at Mangga Dua Mall. It's not like the middle-class and high-end malls where all the stores are boring chains. It has character.
Today I ate some yummy Sundanese food (from West Java) from a place there. For Rp 18,000 (roughly $2.20 AU), this is what I got:
It's really a good example of some Indonesian food staples that you eat a lot of here.
From left to right, starting next to the classy plastic fork:
Sambal– chili sauce. Everything here comes with sambal. I've even acclimatised to eating most things with a bit of sambal. I bought McD the other night cos I was desperate, and I even ate the fries with sambal. This here in the picture is real dinky-di homemade sambal, there is also the bottled supermarket type which doesn't have anywhere near as much kick.
Tempe– this big chunk of tempe was fried. I wasn't that keen on tempe at first because it can have a bit of a fermented taste. The solution? Some sambal, of course! For the unaccustomed (anyone reading this blog from outside of Indonesia or Australia's metropolitan areas probably), tempe is Indonesian fermented soybean cake. I had some amazing tempe that had been oven-baked when I was away at the beach, and I've managed to perfect the art of cooking tempe that has been marinated in soy sauce and fried and that's really tasty too. The soy sauce knocks that fermented taste off a bit. Every time I've had it in Sydney it's been heavily seasoned, which isn't the trend here. It's a very good source of protein, apparently.
Ayam bakar– Grilled chicken. This piece was particularly yummy because it had a hint of lemongrass flavour to it. And some spicy taste too, of course. It's hard to escape the spicy here.
Tahu goreng– A big hunk of fried tofu. Tofu is another big thing here. Which in my book, is a good thing.
And of course, in the middle a big pile of nasi (rice) and some decorative green on the side, as well as crackers which come with a lot of stuff. You don't see that much green stuff in Indonesian cuisine besides banana leaf packaging, I've found so far. But wait, there's more. My meal also came with a bowl of a traditional vegetable soup that I forget the name of. You get it a lot and it has a pretty distinctive flavour. I'm pretty sure it's got turmeric in, as well as chili (derr!).
But my runny nose didn't appreciate the sambal. I thought it would fix it but it just made it worse.
While I was at Mal Ambassador, I also went to go buy some intellectual DVDs and walked away with the latest series of America's Next Top Model.
I also went to Carrefour, which is quickly becoming my favourite hypermarket for a few reasons. I think Grand Lucky will stay my number one because it has such a good range of fresh produce and a mix of bule and Indonesian items, but Carrefour has quite a few positives too.
1) You can buy mixed mini muffins by weight, and they are all the colours of the rainbow.
2) You can buy a plasma TV in the same store as a packet of IndoMie (I'm sure it will come in handy some day)
3) They sell green bags! And unlike Grand Lucky, when they pack them, they don't put things inside a plastic bag and then inside the green bag, they understand what you are trying to do with saving the environment and stuff!
4) The "deli" section sells heaps of good Indonesian food for cheap. Exhibit A:
5) They sell bule bread, without added sugar.
6) It's at Mal Ambassador, with easy access to grow one's somewhat illegal DVD collection. (What? You mean this photocopied DVD cover isn't the original? I'm so shocked, especially since it cost me about 70 cents to purchase!)
I'm starting to get a lot more in to Indonesian food (despite my previous post), it's definitely one of the perks here. I had some somay and some pempek last week, and they were pretty awesome, and I've had the thought cross my mind a few times of "hmm… I'd dig a good gado-gado for dinner". But some days I really can't deal with it.
After I did my groceries though, I started to feel really sick and had to go home. I don't know whether this fever is illness or sambal induced though…