Pasar Kue Subuh – Jakarta’s famous Jajanan Pasar Market

Welcome to Pasar Kue Subuh!

Do you love markets? We certainly do – in fact we LOVE our markets (‘pasars’) so much that we’ve written in excess of 10 posts about various markets in Jakarta.

In today’s AJB post we indulge our obsession with traditional market snacks known as, ’Jajanan Pasar’. With the expert guidance of our friend and Indonesian food expert Winny Soendaroe, we set our alarm clocks to ‘bright and early’ and head to Pasar Kue Subuh, arguably Jakarta’s most famous Jajanan Pasar market. 

So grab your reusable bags, fill your wallet with rupiah, ensure your appetite is on full throttle and *Ayo ke Pasar Kue Subuh!

Ps: For quick access to our other market posts along with Jajanan Pasar recipes, head to the bottom of this story and click on the links provided.

Liz and I ready to hit the stalls – Hmmm, what will we choose today? Decisions! Decisions!!

What are Jajanan Pasar? The term ‘Jajanan Pasar’ means ‘market snacks’ or ‘market buys’. ‘Kue’ make up a large selection of Jajanan Pasar.

Both sweet and savoury, Jajanan Pasar come in all shapes, sizes and colours!
Risoles with individual chillies – Similar to a small croquette, these snacks are mostly filled with savoury ingredients such as minced meat and diced vegetables and coated in breadcrumbs. Risoles are a nod to the Dutch influence on Indonesian cuisine
Lemper – Consisting of steamed glutinous rice filled with spiced chicken and typically wrapped in banana leaves

What are Kue? 
The word ‘Kue’ in Indonesian refers to traditional snacks including cakes and some types of pastries. Derived from the Hokkien word ‘koé’, Kue are often steamed and therefore their texture and appearance is very different compared to Western cakes or pastries.

Individually wrapped Klappertaart. These Indonesian Kue are most famous in Manado, North Sulawesi but their origins extend back to Dutch colonial times. The name Klappertaart translates as, ‘coconut cake’ and these delicacies are made from flour, sugar, milk, butter and coconut

Indonesian kue are generally divided into two groups based on their level of moisture: ‘kue basah’ (‘wet cakes’) and ‘kue kering’ (‘dry cakes’). 

Most traditional Indonesian Kue are kue basah. They tend to be moist and soft in texture and are cooked by steaming or frying. Often kue basah are also rich in coconut milk, palm sugar and rice flour. As a result they have a much shorter shelf life than kue kering (generally 1 – 2 days). Some well known kue basah include Klepon, Kue Ape, Kue Lapis Legit and Wajik.

A selection of Kue Basah – from the traditional (Kue Lapis Legit), to the more Western (Jam donuts at the back!) All are made fresh for the market
Kue Mangkok – A traditional Indonesian cupcake, usually steamed and sweetened with palm sugar or fermented cassava (tapai)
A vendor ready to sell her freshly made Martabak Manis (see our recipe below for this delicious treat!)

In contrast, kue kering are most often what we refer to as ‘cookies’ or ‘biscuits’. Almost all kue kering are baked or fried and can be stored for weeks or even months. Kue kering are commonly seen during annual holidays and important festivities including Lebaran (Idul Fitr) and Natal (Christmas). Examples of kue kering include Kaastengaal, Kue Nastar, Kue Lidah Kucing and Kue Putri Salju.

Some examples of ‘Kue Kering’ – from left: Kue Putri Salju, Kue Biskuit, Kue Nastar and Kaastengaal. These biscuits are especially popular during festive times of the year and are often given as gifts
Open for business from 4am, this market is a hive of activity. Best to be early to select the freshest kue and snacks, and appreciate the greatest variety of Jajanan Pasar on offer

What are Kue made from?  
The basic ingredients for many of the Indonesian Kue, whether sweet or savoury, are rice flour and coconut. Traditionally Indonesian sweets use gula aren (palm sugar). Due to foreign influences, wheat flour is also now more commonly used as is butter, margarine and cheese (as well as Nutella, Toblerone and chocolate sprinkles). To impart creaminess and flavour, coconut milk is a common ingredient, and popular flavouring agents include coconut, spices (ginger and cinnamon), pandan and chocolate.

A lady prepares Martabak Telur – a savoury parcel filled with egg and meat.. Delicious!

What about the Prices?
Starting at around Rp2000 (approx. 20 cents), the prices here are far more affordable than Jajanan Pasar purchased in supermarkets or kue stalls in the major malls. 

What else is on offer at Pasar Kue Subuh?
Pasar Kue Subuh is not only limited to the sale of Kue. You can also find dry savoury snacks such as Krupuk and Kripik available.

Ready to eat fish flavoured krupuk – made from tapioca flour and loved by all!
My favourite – Kripik Pisang – made from deep-fried finely sliced lengths of banana

Likewise, an abundance of quality food carts (known as Gerobak or Kaki-lima), as well as a cute converted van selling delicious Soto Ayam can be found in the Market area.
After securing your purchases, you can reward yourself with a tasty breakfast. What would you choose?

So many choices!
Many food options of Chinese origin are available at Pasar Kue Subuh
Bacang are traditional Chinese glutinous rice parcels stuffed with various fillings and wrapped in bamboo leaves, ready to be steamed
This food fan was very popular on the day we visited. Serving generous bowls of tasty Soto Ayam, this breakfast is not only nourishing but very affordable (less than $1.50 per serve)

When the market finishes, the day is still early so be sure to continue exploring Blok M, Melawai. Here are some ideas (and yes, of course one of them involves coffee! 😉 )
With arms-full of Jajanan Pasar you’ll surely be needing a coffee! Luckily just a few blocks away you’ll find Filosofi Kopi. Be sure to arrive on foot so you can enjoy the unique architecture of the Blok M area. 

If you have time, a visit to Photographic studio/gallery Soup n’ Film is a great idea. And if you’re in need of some general groceries, drop into Papaya Fresh in Melawai (the fish and seafood in particular, are excellent of quality). 

Our guide Winny (centre) answered all our questions relating to our morning market experience

About Blok M
Kebayoran Baru was the last residential area to be developed by the Dutch colonial administration.

Blok M area is marked by Jalan Melawai X to the north, Jalan Melawai to the south, Jalan Iskandarsyah Raya to the east and Jalan Panglima Polim Raya to the west. The block was exclusively designed as a middle-sized commercial area with government-owned Pasar Pusat (Central Market) at its centre.

Streetscape of Blok M, South Jakarta
An example of architecture in Blok M

Our Final Verdict:
A trip to Pasar Kue Subuh is a must! The vibrant atmosphere, the friendly faces and of course all the colourful and authentic Kue are a quintessential part of Jakarta which everyone should experience. As the variety of Kue on offer is vast and the quality is good, the best ones are snapped up early so be warned – you must arrive early to secure the best quality products.

And our favourite Jajanan Pasar?

Winny’s favourite: Lalampa (Manadonese version of lemper filled with spicy smoked tuna) and Babonkgo from South Kalimantan (rice flour infused with pandan, served with young coconut flesh, palm syrup and coconut milk all wrapped up in a banana leaf)

Liz’ favourite: Ketan Serundeng Pedas and Talam Padang

Jo’s favourite: Wajik, Onde-Onde, Kue Bugis, Kue Lapis Legit

What will be your favourites? We’d love to know!

A selection of our favourite purchases: (Clockwise from front): Wajik, Balapis, Onde-onde, Kue Cucur, Klepon and Talam Pandan Padang in the middle)

For the ultimate experience, we recommend you take a guided tour of Pasar Kue Subuh. Our expert guide Ibu Winny Soendaroe can be contacted on +62 811 992 566

Unloading our purchases (and there were many!), before we headed to Filosofi Kopi for a well-earned caffeine stop! Ps: be sure to bring your own reusable bags as the vendors are quick to give you plastic
  • pasar – market
  • jajanan pasar – market snacks (both sweet and savoury)
  • ayo ke – let’s go to …
  • kue – snack sized cakes/pastries
  • subuh – dawn

Pasar Kue Subuh
Jl. Melawai IV No.17-18
Keyaboran Baru
South Jakarta

Opening hours: 4am – 7am daily

Here are our recommendations for further reading relating to today’s post… ENJOY!

A visit to Pasar Mayestik – South Jakarta’s famous fabric market
A visit to Pasar Modern – Bintaro’s fresh produce market
AJB’s Best Places to Visit in Pasar Santa right Now!
A visit to South Jakarta’s fresh produce market, Pasar Minggu
A culinary tour of Jakarta’s Chinatown district – Pasar Glodok & Petak Sembilan

Traditional Cakes and Sweets of Indonesia
AJB’s story of Krupuk, Kripik and other Indonesian snacks

How to make Klepon 
How to make Kue Putri Salju
How to make Martabak Manis
How to make Kue Lidah Kucing

You’re guaranteed to smile when you visit Pasar Kue Subuh 🙂

Words: Jo Stevens   Photography: A Journey Bespoke

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