Nasi goreng, fried rice, is easily one of the most famous Indonesian foods.
I wouldn’t call it one of the top Indonesian foods, but I do think everyone can enjoy a plate of nasi goreng from time to time, and I certainly do.
You’ll find nasi goreng all over Indonesia, served at both restaurants and commonly from street food carts.
During my trip to Jakarta, one evening along Mangga Besar road I stopped for a wonderfully comforting plate of nasi goreng.
In this blog post I’ll share with you exactly what I ate.
Mangga Besar Road
If you’re a food lover in Jakarta, you’ll inevitably eventually find yourself in Mangga Besar.
Mangga Besar, a district and road of Jakarta, is known for its food, especially for its Indonesian, more specifically Medanese Indonesian Chinese food.
Walking around Mangga Besar in the evening, you’ll find dozens of street food carts, restaurants, and stalls selling all sorts of things to eat, and you’ll notice an abundance of stalls that sell the King of Fruits, durian. It’s just an all around glorious place for any food lover.
A couple of quick notes:
Note #1: I think Mangga Besar is one of the best central areas of Jakarta to stay in if you’re visiting).
Note #2: Mangga Besar is also a red light district in Jakarta, but it’s not in your face, and it’s pretty easy to avoid the nightlife and just focus on the food and energy of the area.
Nasi Goreng (Fried Rice)
Like I was mentioning, my wife and I walked out of our hotel one evening and after having a quick look around, I decided I was just in that mood for nasi goreng.
We stopped at the nearest and friendliest looking stall, and I could tell both by the sign on the front of the street food cart, and by the ingredients displayed in the cart that he was selling nasi goreng.
Another thing I noticed that he had in his street food cart were a couple pods of stink beans, known in Indonesia as petai; They are one of my favorite things to eat in the world.
I put in my order for nasi goreng petai.
The nasi goreng vendor, who was very nice, just like many of the Jakarta street food vendors I interacted with during my trip, gladly took my order.
After he finished up with a few other orders in his queue, he then got started with my nasi goreng petai.
With a well used wok and a half broken spatula, he added in some oil and a dab of what I think was either ghee or margarine, heated it up, and first fried an egg. He set this egg aside for later.
He then added in the peeled petai, sautéed them in the hot oil for a few seconds, before tossing in another egg, and adding some pieces of chicken, salt, and sambal, and likely a bit of MSG. Then, in went a plate of rice. He fried the rice in such a beautifully rhythmic fashion, clanking on the wok with his spatula.
Finally, one of the seasonings for nasi goreng, that makes it quite different from other types of fried rice such as Thai khao pad, is the addition of plenty of kecap manis, sweet soy sauce.
Once the nasi goreng was finished frying, it still had some assembling to make it a great plate of nasi goreng.
The fried rice was placed on a plate, topped with the extra fried egg, some crispy shallots, a few slices of cucumber and tomato, some achar pickle similar what I had with Soto Betawi, and finally a good handful of emping.
This plate of nasi goreng was very similar to any plate of nasi goreng you can order throughout Indonesia.
But it occasionally hits that spot, and it tastes so good.
Again, what really sets Indonesian fried rice apart from any other type of fried rice in the world is the addition of kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) that gives the nasi goreng a slightly sweet and salty, and almost caramelized taste.
Also, for me, what really made this plate of nasi goreng good was the petai, the sambal, the friendly Jakarta street food vendors, and the always energetic ambiance of Mangga Besar.
Price for nasi goreng – 20,000 IDR ($1.50)
Durian at Mangga Besar
Did I mention that Mangga Besar is a well known place in Jakarta to eat durian?
The next stall over from where Ying and I were eating nasi goreng, there was a durian stall. And while taking bites of my fried rice, whiffs of humid durian air caught my nose.
So there was only one natural thing to do next…
After a little contemplation, and taste testing a couple of durians, I settled for a Palembang durian, that was nice and extremely ripe, with a sweet and bitter taste.
There are few things that could possibly be better than sitting in the hot humidity of Jakarta, traffic roaring by, but with the peace and comfort of a good durian on the table before you.
They had a couple tables set up along the side of the road, so he sliced our durian, and set it on the table.
The durian was from Palembang, in Sumatra, and although it couldn’t be compared to a Musang King, I enjoyed it.
It was sweet and creamy, like dense whipped cream, with a soft bitter tinge and a hint of alcohol. There’s no greater way to end a meal than with durian.
Price for durian – 45,000 IDR ($3.39)
Watch the video:
If you have a few minutes, press play to watch the full video of this plate of nasi goreng and durian for dessert:
(Or you can watch it on YouTube here)
Nasi goreng is one of those dishes that you can rely on.
It’s not the most complex Indonesian dish, but sometimes it’s just what you need and want to eat, and it’s commonly available throughout Indonesia.
You’ll find all sorts of street food stalls and restaurants around the Mangga Besar area in Jakarta. This particular nasi goreng cart and durian stall was located on Jalan Mangga Besar, about 50 meters in from Jalan Hayam Wuruk, on the north side of the road. If you’re in the area, another one of the must-eat restaurants is Bakso Akiaw 99.
In any case, Mangga Besar is an interesting area of Jakarta, and a must visit place if you love to eat.