A traditional market or ‘pasar’ is integral to the daily lives of most Indonesians. Fresh fruit and vegetables are purchased here, along with spices ’bumbu’, as well as clothing and other household items. Of course, an impromptu catch up with friends at the local pasar is also an excellent opportunity to find out ‘what’s news’ (‘apa kabar’).
In today’s A Journey Bespoke post, we take you on a culinary tour of Glodok, Jakarta’s vibrant Chinatown district in West Jakarta. We taste some of the best food on offer as we are capably lead through the maze of alleyways by Indonesian Food expert and intrepid guide, Pak William Wongso.
So switch your mind to Adventure Mode and come with us as we explore Jakarta’s very own Chinatown district of Glodok.
Selamat Menjelajahi Glodok!
(Happy Exploring Glodok!)
Note: To discover more about the History of Glodok and its surrounding areas, and How to best prepare for your trip to Glodok, continue reading to the bottom of today’s post.
Since the Dutch colonial period, Glodok has been known as Jakarta’s ‘Chinatown’ or ‘Pecinan’ and is considered the biggest in Indonesia. The vast majority of traders in Glodok are of Chinese descent and as most are not Muslim, the eating of traditional dishes containing pork is common in this part of Jakarta.
Glodok spans three main areas: Petak Sembilan, Gang Gloria (Gloria alley) and Jalan Pancoran. Petak Sembilan is considered the heart of Glodok and that’s where we start today’s tour.
Arrive in Petak Sembilan and you’ll soon find yourself in the heart of Glodok. The energy here is palpable. The excitement and vibe is positive. It is a noticeably different Jakarta – one that is bonded by a shared heritage, a common history, and traditions that make this community strong and unified.
In Petak Sembilan you will find interesting fruits and vegetables, ready for snacking including fried cassava (singkong goreng) and freshly boiled ‘kacang Bogor’ – groundnuts grown near the city of Bogor, West Java.
Continue along and you’ll meet fruit vendors selling varieties of bananas, as well as pineapple vendors deftly carving each fruit to remove the eyes with minimal waste. Notice the smell of mooncake-like delicacies known as ‘Kue Bakpia’ as their aroma wafts past your nose.
At the end of the alley you’ll find Ibu Lina preparing cempedak goreng. A traditional Betawi treat, Ibu Lina has been making these fried fritters for more than twenty years.
Next stop is Pak Akin’s dumpling shop just along a bit from Bu Lina’s cempedak goreng stall. Pak William Wongso, our food expert insisted we try some gyoza-style dumplings known as ‘Kuo Tieh’. They were absolutely delicious. Washed down with a glass of iced tea, we were feeling very satisfied by this point in our culinary tour!
Petak Sembilan Market
Jalan Kemenangan No.40
Opening hours: 5am – 4pm daily
Gang Gloria (Gg. Gloria)
Just across from Petak Sembilan is a narrow alleyway lined with food vendors called Gang Gloria (Gg.Gloria). In this area there once stood a structure called, ‘Gloria building’ until it burnt down some years ago.
In Gg. Gloria you will find lots of traditional comfort foods including chicken noodles, hainan rice, bakso goreng and pork noodles.
Next to the candy merchant, ‘Toko Manisan Acin’ is a food cart (gerobak) that you must not miss! Look for the sign, ‘Bakmi Amoy’ and be prepared to taste the most delectable pork meatballs (bakso babi goreng). Eat them hot and enjoy their crispy skin as you dip them in the chilli sauce.
After this, Pak William was keen for Liz and I to witness two of the more unique and highly sort after dishes for which Gang Gloria is famous. Directing us along the alley, we arrived at the stalls.
The first was serving soft back turtle soup known as ‘Pi Oh’. The second was selling a Chinese-Indonesian dish consisting of pork offal stewed in a soy sauce based soup, known as ‘Sekba’. Pak William explained that people who know Sekba well will be able to tell you their favourite offal cuts. You can select from intestines (small & large), ear, lungs, liver, tongue and tripe (gulp.. cue sweat beads!).
Once you’ve selected your ‘cuts’, you are charged accordingly – some cuts are more expensive than others; for example, the cartilage-rich ear is more expensive than the intestine. In general, pieces range in price from Rp5000 – Rp15,000. Be aware that both Pi Oh and Sekba sell out fast, so if you are determined to taste these authentic dishes, either arrive early or book your order the day before, to avoid disappointment.
Hidden behind the Sekba vendor is the famous coffee house, Kopi Es Tak Kie. Established in 1927, Kopi Es Tak Kie serves two types of coffee only: black and ‘kopi susu’ (coffee served with condensed milk). You can choose either ‘panas’ or ‘dingin’ – hot coffee or cold coffee served with ice. The coffee is made from a blend of 5 types of beans from Lampung, South Sumatra. There is a limited food menu – but you are welcome to eat food purchased from outside in this authentically simple cafe.
Kopi Es Tak Kie
Jl. Pintu Besar Selatan III,
No. 4 – 6
Glodok, West Jakarta
Opening hours: 6.30am – 2pm
Just before entering the building which houses Pasar Glodok’s wet market we visited Ibu Lusmi at her family’s Chinese Grocery store, PD Jaya Abadi. As fourth generation owners of this reputable shop, the business has been in Ibu Lusmi’s family for over 100 years and stocks an abundance of traditional ingredients as well as Western items too.
Next we returned to the laneway and discovered the live animal market, where eager customers were selecting for best quality. We saw soft-back turtles, frogs, eels, snails, fish and a variety of seafood for sale. To be honest, although I was intrigued by this part of the market, I didn’t dwell too long as I also found this experience a little confronting.
Our final stop on Pak William’s tour was Pasar Glodok on Jl. Pancoran. We soon understood that this is the place for the largest selection of fresh and affordable fruit, vegetables, herbs, snacks, traditional medicines, clothing and much, much more! As time was running out, we did a quick tour of the stalls which were teeming with fresh fruit and vegetables and enjoyed chatting to the vendors who were selling a variety of dried ingredients useful in Chinese cuisine.
Toko PD Jaya Abadi Chinese Grocery store
Jl. Kemenangan Raya No. 39
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday 9am – 5pm
Jl. Pancoran, Kota Tua
Opening hours: 9am – 6pm
You really must head to Glodok and check out all three areas: Petak Sembilan, Gang Gloria and Pasar Glodok. And don’t limit yourself to one visit – you should also go when preparations are underway for Chinese New Year. Undoubtedly the atmosphere at such a significant time of the year would be an experience to cherish.
How to best prepare for your trip to Glodok and surrounding areas
1.Avoid squishy toes by wearing closed shoes. You will be walking on uneven surfaces and often wet.
2. Bring cash with you – various notes. The use of cards for payment is very limited.
3. Bargain to get the right price – the vendor won’t let you buy something unless they too are happy with the price, so when it comes to clothing and electronics, in particular, be sure to negotiate the price.
4. Make sure you have your sense of adventure dialled to ‘high’ when you visit this area. There is so much to see, taste, smell and experience.
5. If you are a little queasy or uncomfortable with seeing animals being dispatched before your eyes, proceed with caution along certain alleyways.
6. Bring your own shopping bags. Minimise the amount of plastic you collect.
7. Like with any crowded place, be sure to keep your valuables secure. Best to use a bag that can be easily zipped up.
8. Smile! Everyone we encountered was friendly and happy to see us wandering through the markets. Engage with the locals. They are proud of their heritage and culture. Learn from them.
9. Visit more than once. If you really want to see Glodok at its most vibrant, you must come in the lead up to – and at the time of Chinese New Year.
History of Glodok
The area of Glodok dates back to colonial times. On 9 October 1740, five thousand Chinese people were massacred and in November of the following year, the East Indies Company (VOC) assigned Glodok as a residential area for ethnic Chinese. These minority people were segregated and were required to live only in Glodok, which (at that stage) was situated outside the city walls.
In more recent times, Glodok was badly affected due to the violence and torture associated with the Jakarta Riots of May 1998.
The word Glodok is derived from the Sundanese word “Golodog”, meaning entrance to a house.
Other nearby places worth a visit
Pasar Pagi – 3.5km away
Mangga Dua Square – 5km
Kota Tua – 3.5km
Sunda Kelapa – 4.5km
Below you’ll find links to other related posts we know you’ll like!
And in the meantime, why not let us know what you found interesting in today’s post. We always love hearing from you 🙂
Introducing Chef and Indonesian Food Ambassador, Pak William Wongso
Chinese New Year in Indonesia and a trip to Pasar Pagi
Exploring Mangga Dua Square
Exploring Jakarta’s historical centres of Kota Tua and Sunda Kelapa
Words: Jo Stevens Photography: a journey bespoke