Greenhost x IWasHere Present Discovering Hidden Gems of Jogjakarta Part 1: Culinary

There are so many ways to get to know a city but we believe that one of the best ways to learn about a new city is to explore its local delicacies. Food is a part of cultural heritage and you might be surprised when you hear the story behind it. On top of that, many still did not know yet about the hidden culinary destinations in Jogjakarta, so we decided to collaborate with IWasHere Network - a travelling content community based on user experience - to bring you some of the best, yet undiscovered culinary spots in Jogjakarta!

To do this, we invited someone who is an expert in this field. Could you guess who is she? Yes! She is Marrysa Tunjung Sari, Editor in Chief Linkers Magazine, who began her journey as a professional photographer in 2008. Together with IWasHere, Marrysa helped us in discovering and documenting Jogjakarta’s hidden culinary gems during 16th – 18th May 2018 and we had the chance to tag along with them in the last 2 days!

We began the Hidden Gem trip from the legendary bakery in Jogjakarta, Toko Roti Djoen Muda, which is surprisingly located near our hotel, on Kolonel Sugiono Street to be exact. When we got there, we were greeted by a mouthwatering smell that comes from a variety of freshly baked breads. Their signature bread is roti semir or rombotter (bread spread with rum butter), but they also make other classic bread such as sweet bread filled with meat, coconut, bananas, and white bread. The couple who runs the bakery, Atmadi and Atminah, told us happily about the origin of their business that has been running for eighteen years. They said that Toko Roti Djoen Muda is still related with Toko Roti Djoen on Malioboro Street which was established in 1942 because the founders of both bakeries are blood relatives. Despite their age, the couple still intends to continue this business that they inherited from their parents.

After that, we continued our journey to the south-side of Jogjakarta, looking for another heritage cuisine called gudeg manggar. Did you know what is special from the dish? Instead of using young jackfruit as usual, this kind of gudeg is made from manggar or coconut flower. The cuisine is now a rare delicacy because finding manggar these days is getting really difficult. One of the oldest stall was established by Bu Seneng which can be found in front of Mangiran traditional market, Srandakan, Bantul. She began selling gudeg manggar since 1980s. When we got the opportunity to look at her kitchen, we know what makes the aroma of her cuisine very unique: she is still using firewood! The long journey to enjoy this heritage cuisine is paid off with a plate of gudeg manggar served with stewed ayam kampung (free range chicken) and completed with krecek (spicy cow skin) and areh (thick coconut milk). Being Indonesians, we don't forget to bring it home for our families and relatives, of course. :)

To conclude our journey in the second day, we decided to stop by at Mangut Lele Mbah Geneng in Sewon, Bantul. It could be a bit difficult to locate the stall because it is not located on the roadside, so we had to walk into a small alley. There's no need to worry because the neighborhood is ready to help you find the way. From a distance we could already saw a 104-year-old Mbah Geneng who were lying on the front porch. She told us that she is not strong enough to serve the customer, “Just come in, my daughter is waiting inside,” she added. At a glance, mangut lele asap – smoked catfish cooked in spicy coconut milk – looks so tempting covered with red chili in a skillet, suitable for spicy food enthusiast!

On the third day which is also the last day of our journey for the culinary part, we intended to explore the Kotagede Traditional Market in search of various rare traditional snacks. Unfortunately, at the beginning of Ramadhan month, many sellers changed their business hours so some snacks that we looked for is unavailable. We immediately racked our brain to find other Kotagede’s specialty snacks that remained open. One of those traditional snacks was called kipo, sounds unique, right? Apparently the name kipo came from the Java language “Iki opo?" which means “what is this?” the first time this snack was served to the Sultan Agung, he asked this question. This green-colored kipo is filled with sugar and coconut, and it tastes familiarly like a klepon.

Before continuing our journey, we received some recommendations from the sellers in the market. They suggested a few hidden culinary spots such as soto lenthok and soto kemasan but unfortunately both were closed. For a moment we remembered our friend's recommendation, Brongkos Handayani, which was located near the gate of Alun-Alun Kidul. A plate of brongkos – slow cooked soybean in coconut milk seasoned with black nuts – is sold in affordable price, starting from IDR 13k (approx. US$1) depending on the side dish you chose. There are various choices of side dishes, such as tofu, tempeh, egg, fried beef. Even for those of you who loves fat, there is also brongkos koyor made from beef fat. Just like gudeg, brongkos is always served with white rice and best enjoyed while it’s hot. Add a kerupuk (traditional cracker), and you are in for a superb treat!

From our trip looking for hidden culinary gems in 2 days, we learned many valuable lessons. Almost all of the legendary cuisines were run or managed by people who are already in their 70s and older, but none of them lack the spirit to run their business as best they could. They do what they like even up to this golden age. One thing for sure is that passion keeps them living healthily and happily! It was not easy looking for culinary heritage as even we struggled a little, but it was fun and our curiosity was satisfied at the end!

Through this post we are also sending our deepest thanks and appreciation to everyone who preserve our culinary heritage, enriching the experience of everyone who comes to our beautiful city. Go to our Instagram account to check other culinary hidden gems and see you in our next collaboration project - Hidden Gems Jogja: Culture!