Preserving Betawi Traditional Cuisine

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  • TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Around a hundred of people packed up the Resto Pecak Gabus on Jalan Aria Jaya Sentika, Kampung Sumur Pacing, Karawaci, Tangerang. The guests were sitting in different groups of family, couples, and friends.

    Some of the guests chose to sit on one of wooden chairs with oval wooden tables in the joglo hall. Some of them sit on the floor in the bamboo saung (traditional Sundanese gazebo). Tangerang’s typical hot weather was blown away the wind breezing in the garden-styled resto.

    Once entering the Betawi traditional restaurant owned by by Haji Tubagus Mahdi Adiansyah, guests will be greeted by mouth-watering aroma of fried gabus (Channa striata) fish and pecak sauce. Restaurant Manager Wiwid Surahmat said that they purchased the fish from fishermen who catch fishes from rivers or swamps in Tangerang and Lampung.

    The pecak sauce is made of spices such as asam kandis, galangal, bay leaves, curcuma, key lime leaves, ginger, lemongrass, onions, and chili.

    Other than pecak gabus which becomes the signature of this restaurant, there are side dishes on the menu. The side dish are varying from the traditional style such as fish gecok, sauted banana, kangkung belacan, and even tom yum with coconut. You can also try out the traditional Betawi drink called bir pletok.

    “The taste is favored by Betawi people and also other ethnics,” said Ciptadi, a guest from Tigaraksa.

    Haji Tubagus Mahdi Ardiansyah built his restaurant with a determination to preserves the Betawi traditional cuisine that have started to be left behind. He believes that the dish is a heritage of their elders who lived nearby the swamps or rivers. He recalled his childhood when he used to catch fish in swamps with his friends.

    “We catch fish, especially gabus most of the times,” Mahdi recalled.

    Pecak gabus was the dish that we serve for family and relatives when they came to visit.”