Last month on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th of September the Embassy of Indonesia in Netherlands held Pasar Raya Indonesia 2016 - an Indonesian festival in celebration of the country's independence and a fun fair in the middle of the summer. This year event is hosted in Sekolah Indonesia Nederland and I went for a visit on it's second day which is a Saturday. The school ground is crowded with tourists and locals visiting for a good taste of the Indonesian cultures: Indonesian songs, food, souvenirs, clothing and memorabilia can be found in multiple stands on the ground. Coming to the grounds, I was instantly reminded of Gelora Bung Karno on a Sunday -- the people, the pace, the environment were sooo similar.
I went to the ground by a bus from Den Haag Centraal. It was a special bus that goes directly to the event venue, I remember it reads 'Pasar Raya Indonesia via Wassenaar' and really the bus was filled with Indonesian filling in the vehicle. It literally doesn't feel as if we're in Netherlands - it takes me back to the days I spent riding the bus around Manggarai. It was definitely a fun sight and I immediately feel as if I'm back home (but with more 'bule' -- how the Indonesian refer to foreigners). Surprisingly, there were people of various background coming to the event and I'm really happy that people all around the world are interested in Indonesian culture or even engaging themselves in it.
But actually, what we're really about is, of course, the food! It was one month since I last have an Indonesian food and as I am writing this one month later I feel like crying because I'm really missing these foods so bad. Many of the food available for purchase are those of Sumatra and Java origins, but that doesn't make me any less excited. I walked in with 20 Euros and have got plenty of food but I wish I would've bought more to take home hehe. And a bit of a notice, I'm sorry that I don't remember the names of the seller or the booths during the day but I hope this post can give a good guide to the general pricing of the food and a little more insight about the event.
Pempek Kapal Selam (EUR 6.50)
Pempek -- fried fishcake made with tapioca, served 'kapal selam' style which means submarine style as the round pempek filled with a whole egg is cut and drenched in the sweet vinegar sauce that is served with egg noodle and cucumber. Other types of pempek were also available on the grounds but I didn't find any pempek kulit -- fried fishcake made of fish skin, which I wanted at the time. Regarding the fish, I don't have any idea of what kind of fish is used with this one hehe but I wish it is saltier as it got pretty bland after a few bites.
Sate Padang (EUR 6.00)
This is honestly one of the best Sate Padang I've had in my life and it is surely one of the spiciest I've had. Maybe it's the vibe, maybe that I miss it too much, maybe it's my well-adapted tongue, maybe it's just that this is one amazing dish. The sliced beef and tongue is cut into dice-sized cubes and were grilled in their marinade. It was served with rice cake, drizzled with the turmeric-gingery-spicy sauce and topped with fried shallots. One thing they did differently is that this was added with a spoonful of yellow gulai curry and green chili sambal. It was so spicy and delicious, it was also life-changing. I might start to add green sambal and a dash of gulai in the future.
Tahu Isi (EUR 1.50)
This one piece of fried stuffed tofu is about the same price as the ones sold in the first-tier Indonesian restaurant back home. Good thing it packed a good flavor and it was filled with the typical filling of mixed vegetables and ground chicken. Fried until golden brown, this is sure an Indonesian street food staple. Served with birds eye chili, a classic.
Es Cendol (EUR 2.00)
The es cendol is typically made with a paste of rice flour and pandan leaves that are cut into bite-sized pieces served with coconut milk and palm sugar that is served cold. The rice flour 'jelly' was chewy and the drink is supposedly almost overwhelmingly sweet -- but this one I got, in particular, is just so-so. Now as I am writing this, all I want is a glass of ice cold cendol from Restaurant Sunda Kelapa in Ancol, North Jakarta where you can get the best serving of es cendol in Jakarta.
Sosis Solo (EUR 1.50)
This is one thick Sosis Solo! Sosis Solo translates into Solo (an area of the greater Central Java) sausage but it is not necessarily formed like a typical sausage. This is actually a fried dish with a crepe-like skin that is filled with grounded beef. The beef was cooked with spices and also a good dose of sugar that gives it a signature sweetness. The fried dish is not usually crunchy, instead, it was wet and rich and typically served with birds eye chili. My favorite dish out of the typical Indonesian party snacks and this one did it justice -- in even bigger size than what sosis solo is usually served back home.
Sticky rice cooked in palm sugar. Loads of it. Also cooked with coconut milk and pandan leaves. Super sweet dish that got its name due to its four-sided diamond-like shape.
Jamu Beras Kencur (IDR 3.00)
A serving of jamu -- traditional Indonesian herbal drink in a glass is served at 3 Euros while one shot of jamu is priced at 1 Euro. I ordered jamu beras kencur for its milky and gingery sweetness but instead I got a mix of jamu beras kencur (galangal) and jamu kunyit asem (tamarind-turmeric). Still, it is one nostalgic concoction.
Batagor (EUR 6.00)
Batagor stands for bakso-tahu-goreng which means fried meatballs and tofu. It is usually sought as the fried version of siomay. A pack costs 6 Euros alongside with a condiment of a ground peanut sauce. I was so happy of having a proper peanut sauce as many common ones I found in the Netherlands (usually called satesaus which tastes too much like a pindakaas - peanut butter) were too sweet and thick for my taste. This is one good batagor and it smelled so good that I ate it only a few hours later by the Scheveningen beach (another post on that soon!) and the fish still remains gragrant and the skin of the batagor remained crispy.
I was pretty impressed of the whole event and I hope that the next Pasar Raya Indonesia can be even bigger and better. It is unfortunate that we only stayed here for the food but the place got too crowded and we were interested in discovering more of Den Haag. Next post will be about the continuation of our short visit to Den Haag and a bit more about the capital city of South Holland and the country's center of government, so stay tuned! :)