TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - On a bright sunny day last week, the warung located at Cihapit Market in Bandung was packed with famished people. This was despite the fact the location was not easy to reach. A person would have to go through a narrow alleyway filled with muddy puddles and pass by an awful aroma coming from traders’ goods in the alley to get there.
However, all a person would need to do is follow the only salivating aroma in the alley to get to Bu Eha’s warung. Bu Eha’s menu mainly consists of authentic Sundanese laid out on a long table. Customers can choose from a selection that includes its famous pepes, pomfret fish, fried chicken, urap, and snapper fish head loved by culinary expert Bondan Winarno. Bu Eha also offers her legendary sambal dadak (chili sauce).
Bu Eha has many loyal customers, mainly students and celebrities who lived in Bandung from the 1950s to the 1970s. The warung was established in 1947 by Nok, Eha’s mother used her daughter’s childhood nickname "Eha" as the name for the warung. Thirteen years later, Eha inherited the warung and currently runs it. During those days, the menu slightly differed and included lotek, chicken satay, and ongklok potatoes, which are boiled potatoes with fresh milk. The menu was loved by the Dutch.
Eha was a cook for the People’s Security Army (TKR), the predecessor of the current Indonesian Army, during the Dutch Military Aggression II. She participated in the Siliwangi Division Long March from Cirebon to Yogyakarta. Eha reminisced that during those times, a platoon commander said that her cooking tasted good. She was confused because she had only made tiwul rice (a cassava based staple food) from dried cassava. "I only used salt to flavor the vegetables," she laughed.
However, Eha is not a young woman anymore. Yet the 80-year-old woman was still energetic and talkative whenTempo spoke to her last week. The woman who has 27 grandchildren learned how to cook from her mother, Nok. She shares her mother’s recipes to her seven employees. Along with them, Eha starts her day at 4.30 in the morning. She could spend up to Rp 3 million a day just on ingredients. Eha’s warung is opened every day, except Sunday, from 06.30 am to 4.00 pm.
For her, an unforgettable customer was Inggit Garnasih, the second wife of Indonesia’s first President Soekarno. Inggit often ate at her warung in the 1960s. Because they were quite close, Inggit gave her a picture of Soekarno wearing his military uniform. She still hangs that picture up in her warung until today.