Jakarta is a melting pot of Indonesian cuisine from around the country.

But one of the regional cuisines that seems to be underrepresented is food from the Betawi people, who are the original inhabitants of the present day area of Jakarta.

So when I was in Jakarta, along with having a stunning bowl of Soto Betawi, I didn’t want to leave without a full Betawi meal.

In this blog post I’ll share with you about an amazing meal at Warung Mak Dower.

Watch the video

If you have a few minutes, first watch the video of this extraordinary Betawi meal in Jakarta:

(If you can’t see the video, watch it on YouTube here.)

makanan betawi enak di jakarta
Betawi Food in Jakarta

Betawi Food in Jakarta

In Jakarta you’ll find some extremely common Betawi dishes like gado-gado and nasi uduk just about everywhere you look.

But what I mean by underrepresented is that if you’re looking to sit down for a full meal and spread of a variety of different dishes, there doesn’t seem to be a huge amount of Betawi restaurants in Jakarta in comparison to other regional cuisines.

While doing research for where and what to eat in Jakarta, I became interested in Betawi food, which eventually led me to making the trek across Jakarta to a restaurant called Warung Mak Dower.

[It was well worth the effort to get there.]

Warung Mak Dower
Menu at Warung Mak Dower

Warung Mak Dower

As soon as I saw the photos on the menu, and the abundance of both stink beans and jengkol used in the cooking, I knew it was going to be a meal to cherish.

The owner of the restaurant, who was by the way extremely friendly, explained to me the meaning of “Mak Dower.”

“If you stick your lip out,” that’s the meaning of Mak Dower, he told me. And him and his family named their restaurant that because, he said, “the food is so flavorful, it will make your lower lip stick out!”

That’s one of the coolest names for a restaurant I’ve ever heard of.

And let tell you, my lip did stick out after eating this meal, because it was so tasty.

sayur asem
Sayur asem – sour tamarind soup

Sayur asem (vegetable tamarind soup)

One of the most famous Betawi dishes, also common as a Sundanese dish, is sayur asem, a sour tamarind soup. At Warung Mak Dower it’s one of their signature dishes, and something that you shouldn’t miss.

The soup, reminded me quite a bit of Filipino sinigang.

The broth was a wonderful sharp and crisp sourness, and I could taste the flavor of the herbs and all the vegetables included. I fully enjoyed it.

Indonesian food
Wonderfully sour and filled with vegetables

Another great thing about Warung Mak Dower is that you can get free refills of your bowl of sayur asem, and the kind Aunty kept reminding Ying and I that we could get refills.

It was very addictive, soothingly sour.

Cumi asin lenong
Cumi asin lenong – salted squid dish

Cumi asin lenong (salted squid dish)

At the time of eating this dish, I didn’t know that it was made with salted squid. So I did think that it was a little overly salty.

But after researching exactly what was included in it, I understand the salted cured squid is the reason it was so salty and that’s the way it was meant to be.

Nevertheless, despite being salty, the cumi asin lenong included squid in a thick gravy that was well flavored with shallots, lots of garlic, and I think possibly both lemongrass and galangal.

With rice, it was fantastic, but you really do need to eat it with a lot of rice due to the saltiness.

stink beans and fried shallots
Petai bawang – stink beans and fried shallots

Petai bawang (stink beans and fried shallots)

One of the ingredients I noticed used extremely commonly in Betawi cuisine are fried shallots, known as goreng bawang.

I consider fried shallots to be one of the most fragrant additions to anything – they are like extra flavorful fried onions.

Usually fried shallots are sprinkled in moderation over a bowl of soup or in Indonesia over a plate of rice to give it some fragrance. But when I saw an entire plate of just fried shallots and some stink beans mixed in, I knew I needed to order it.

It was as amazingly good as it sounds. Just a pure plate of crispy shallots, nicely salted, with fried stink beans mixed evenly throughout.

I could snack on petai bawang all day long.

Betawi cuisine
Again, fragrant with so many crispy shallots

Ikan cue goreng bawang (fried fish with shallots)

The crispy fried shallots were not over yet.

I also ordered ikan cue goreng bawang (a type of fish similar to sardines, not sure of the English name?), which again came submerged in deep fried crispy shallots.

best restaurants in Jakarta
It was delicious!

Again, it was every bit as delicious as it looked. It was similar to one of my favorite southern Thai fried fish dishes.

The fish itself was a little on the dry side due to the variety of fish I believe, and then all that flavor of the salty oniony shallots just took over the flavor and made it fantastic.

stink bean pod
I couldn’t resist…

Petai goreng (fried stink beans)

When I saw the entire pod of stink beans (known in Indonesia at petai or pete) on the menu at Warung Mak Dower, again, there was nothing I could do to help myself from ordering one.

I went with petai goreng, which was an entire stink bean twisted pod, tossed in oil and deep fried for a few minutes.

stink beans in Indonesia
They were for the most part raw, and delicious.

When I’m at home in Thailand, I often eat stink beans raw as a garnish with my meals.

But in Thailand, they aren’t usually deep fried like this. Deep frying the entire pod of stink beans, just slightly cooked the stink beans, and took the edge of rawness away, but they were still at least 90% raw.

They were absolutely sensational, just as stink beans always are. I really do consider stink beans to be one of my favorite natural ingredients in the world.

Warung Mak Dower
The jengkol nampol was the ultimate dish at Warung Mak Dower

Jengkol nampol (dogfruit chili)

I saved the undisputed best dish at Warung Mak Dower for last: jengkol nampol, or in English, dogfruit with chili.

Again, in Thailand I frequently eat jengkol (dogfruit), but in most of Thailand they are almost exclusively eaten raw.

In Indonesia, they are common not only raw, but also cooked, which gives them a totally different taste and texture.

Warung Mak Dower
Full of chilies and garlic

Epic is not a word I use very often or too lightly, but there’s no other way to describe how beyond delicious this dish was.

It’s actually almost impossible for me to describe the joy I experienced with every bite of the jengkol nampol.

best Betawi restaurants in Jakarta
Our meal at Warung Mak Dower was incredible

Jengkol (dogfruit) when they are raw are crisp and hard, but when they are cooked they become soft and gummy.

The jengkol were cooked in a sensational blend of sambal, including copious amounts of ground chilies and garlic and some kaffir lime leaves for fragrance.

All the Betawi dishes at Warung Mak Dower were delicious, but nothing blew me away like the jengkol nampol.

Warung Mak Dower
Here’s our total bill

Total price

The total price for everything my wife and I ate came to 140,800 IDR ($10.43). I think the prices are quite reasonable for what we got and the lip smacking flavors.

best restaurants in Jakarta
Warung Mak Dower from the street view

Conclusion

You might also be interested in my Jakarta Travel Guide

Warung Mak Dower is a friendly family run restaurant in Jakarta that specializes in home-cooked Betawi food.

All the dishes I tried at Warung Mak Dower were good, but the stink beans with fried shallots and the jengkol (dogfruit) in a thick puree of chilies and garlic, really blew me away.

While Jakarta has an abundance of restaurants serving Nasi Padang (which I love dearly), you also don’t want to miss a meal of Betawi food when you’re in Jakarta. Warung Mak Dower delivers an overload of delicious flavor!

Warung Mak Dower

Address: Jl. Pemuda No. 72, Rawamangun, Jakarta
Open hours: 9 am – 9 pm daily
Total price: 140,800 IDR ($10.33)

How to get there: Warung Mak Dower is a little bit off the beaten path, in eastern Jakarta. I think the only real way to get there is by taxi. My wife and I took an UberX (use this link to get a free ride), which was hassle free and took about 30 minutes to get there from central Jakarta.

28 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • vishal kaushik

    5 months ago

    Nice post. Thanks for share!

  • Rafa

    8 months ago

    Very nice!

    https://yessites.com.br/

  • VapeSpring

    9 months ago

    Nice article.

  • Lia

    4 years ago

    You sure have remarkable Betawi palate????
    I’m very glad to see your writings include what is there behind the foods, not only how it taste. Such an informative blog, even for me as native Indonesian. The moment I read this, I know Betawi’s dishes will suit my appetite as an Eastern Javanese too. I wish the best for you, Ying, and little Micah. Hope you get another chance to visit Indonesia, and maybe a trip to Surabaya and other East Java cities ? hehe:))

  • Carla

    5 years ago

    Thanks! 🙂

  • Tim

    5 years ago

    Wow! Wow! Wow! I have always love Stink Beans! Thank you for such a great article! Really appreciate that. The next time I visit Jakarta, I will try out the stuff that you wrote and rave about. Jakarta, here I come!!

  • Ayamstuffed

    5 years ago

    Lovely blog post and really beautiful pictures. For the number of dishes you ordered, the bill was not bad at all!

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Thank you very much, I thought that too. It was a wonderful meal.

  • Rini

    5 years ago

    Your article always makes me hungry. I am Indonesian living in Germany. Please always review every eating place you visit in Indonesia. You should also come to my home town, surabaya. The city has delicious culinary such as rujak cingur on jl genteng, kepiting cak gundul, lontong balap garuda, tahu campur, lontong kupang. If you are still in jakarta, do not miss to eat at bandar jakarta in ancol. It is really a seafood heaven

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hi Rini, great to hear from you, thank you very much. I’m hoping to visit Surabaya on my next trip!

  • Sumit Vasudeva

    5 years ago

    They look delicious and that is the power of your photography. it would be great to see this food in India. Thank you for sharing such amazing post

  • Bang Mandra

    5 years ago

    Actually the two previous dishes ( Soto Betawi and Sop Kaki Kambing) in your two videos are Betawis also.

  • Albert Jhones

    5 years ago

    The dishes look appetizing, I go to Indonesia this year end and will make a point to taste these dishes.

    His tips were excellent.

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hi Albert, thank you very much. Hope you have a great upcoming trip to Indonesia.

  • Ari

    5 years ago

    my mom is Betawi native and I’ve lived here all my life. U are right that many Betawi food is overpowered by other cuisine.. anyway, if you have time try Betawi cakes as well. You can find kerak telor and Lepet in Jakarta Fair (opens mid June-mid July every year), kue Bugis, kue cincin, putri ayu, putu, onde, but my favourite is Kue Dongkal. But the last one is pretty hard to find though.

    Thanks for featuring foods in Indonesia… I’m new to your Youtube channel and now this blog.. so havent got the time to see all your videos..

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hi Ari, awesome to hear from you and that your mother is Betawi. Thank you for all your food suggestions!

  • Heryadi Sirait

    5 years ago

    If you eat that Pete/Jengkol along with fish ( or salted fish ) and sambal, the taste so perfect. but only certain fish is great to eat with pete.

  • Jenn Flo Taylor

    5 years ago

    Yum that Sayur asem looks delicious- I’m a huge corn fan. And those fried shallots- insane! What a combo!

  • Steve Sparks

    5 years ago

    Mark your in my neck of the woods here.I live in East Jakarta.I never have been to this restaurant.but alot of this food is sold in alot of the Warungs &Wategs In East jakarta.When will you be coming back to Jakarta?
    By the way i am from America also.Virginia.

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hi Steve, great to hear from you. Not sure when I’ll be coming back again, but would love to.

  • Renny

    5 years ago

    I am native Jakartan but only been home a few times since 1998. Will be home this July to celebrate Idul Fitri with family and can’t wait to eat all the stuff you post in here ????

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hi Renny, great to hear you’ll be going back to Jakarta soon. Have a great trip and Happy Idul Fitri!

  • Vincent

    5 years ago

    All the food look so delicious,especially the petai goreng n jenkol nampol r my favorite too????????????

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Vincent, thank you very much. Awesome to hear that!