Jakarta is a city packed with delicious food.

And one of the best things about visiting Jakarta is that there’s a mix of street food and restaurants that serve food from all the diverse and spread out islands that make up the country.

However, there’s a dish, known as Soto Betawi, which originates right in Jakarta, and it’s one of the must eat Indonesian dishes when you’re in the city.

When I was in Jakarta I went to a restaurant called Soto Betawi Haji Husein, and in this post I’ll share with you one of the top food experiences I had in Jakarta.

what is Soto Betawi?
Soto Betawi is a Jakarta soup

What is Soto Betawi?

Soto Betawi is a type of soup that originates from the Jakarta area of Indonesia.

In Indonesian food, soto is a term used for many different types of soup originating from across the country – and just about every region has their own version of soto.

Betawis are the original people from the region of the island of Java, which is now the same region that makes up greater Jakarta.

So to recap, Soto Betawi is a native Jakarta dish, and sometimes it’s simply known in English as Jakarta beef soup.

Although there are many different recipes for this type of soto, the main typical ingredients include beef in a soup that’s made from both coconut milk and fresh milk, simmered with aromatic herbs and spices like galangal, garlic, shallots, kaffir lime leaves, and candlenut.

The soup is typically eaten along with rice and can be garnished with a number of side sambal chili sauces or acar pickles.

Soto Betawi Haji Husein
Soto Betawi Haji Husein

Soto Betawi Haji Husein

Sometimes when you walk into a restaurant for the first time, you actually get this sensation of how incredible the food is going to be – before you even eat it.

That can be due to the aroma of the cooking, the buzz of the restaurant, or just the energy of the place.

Soto Betawi Haji Husein (also spelled Haji Husen, or H. Husen) was one of those places.

restaurants in Jakarta
Communal dining, great atmosphere

As soon as I stepped inside the Jakarta shophouse style restaurant, the busy and slight chaotic morning rush, big communal tables, and the hot humid air filled with the aroma of beef and herbs, I could hardly contain my excitement.

There are a number of legendary Soto Betawi restaurants in Jakarta, including Haji Mamat, but due to location and where I was, and being recommended by Hey Theresia (thank you Tere), I ate at Soto Betawi Haji Husein.

best soto in Jakarta
Front seating and assembling the soto

I was going to attempt to get a seat up at the front of the restaurant, where they had some bar counter seating (I always enjoy watching my food assembles as I’m eating), but it was so packed at the front entrance, that I couldn’t get a seat.

But at the front of the restaurant is where the action of the Soto Betawi went down.

You’ll see a cabinet full of beef and a few organs as well, which are cut up into bite sized pieces, transferred to a bowl, and combined with the soup broth before being served.

Soto Betawi in Jakarta
Rice topped with crispy shallots

The first thing you’ll be served when you sit down at Soto Betawi Haji Husein is a plate of rice, before your soto arrives.

The rice was topped with a nice sprinkle of deep fried shallots, giving the entire plate a wonderful extra caramelized onion taste.

Also, despite the stifling heat and humidity within the restaurant (everyone was sweating), they served me a cup of hot black tea. The tea was actually quite good and had a jasmine taste to it.

Soto Betawi Haji Husein
Amazing soto at Soto Betawi Haji Husein

My bowl of Soto Betawi arrived and I could smell the galangal and again it was sprinkled with some crispy shallots – something I will never complain about! Also on top was a handful of emping, melinjo chips, which had already absorbed and soaked up all the soup.

For my very first bite I just tried the broth, and I immediately thought of tom kha gai, a Thai coconut milk soup with galagal and lemongrass.

However, this Soto Betawi was but not overly rich – I’m not sure of their broth combination – but it was definitely not thick and rich like pure coconut milk – so it may have been a combination with fresh milk and maybe some stock.

What I loved so much was the mellow, yet noticeable, flavors of galangal and kaffir lime leaves with the soup.

Sitting in the middle of every table at Soto Betawi Haji Husein was a big bucket full of pickles and a main sambal chili sauce.

One of the things I love so much about Indonesian food are the condiments.

I’m always a happy person when sambal is involved in a meal.

best Indonesian food
The pickles enhanced the soup

The bucket of acar pickles was particularly attractive, a huge quantity of diced up cucumbers, carrots, onions, and whole chilies, all floating and marinating in a sour pickle juice.

I could not help myself from adding on a good amount of pickles onto my rice.

soto betawi
I added in some sambal into my soup

And I also noticed that most other diners would add the pickles to their plate of rice, but then add some of the sambal directly into their soto. So I followed what other experienced eaters were doing.

The sambal chili sauce definitely bumped up the heat index and flavor of the soto.

best Indonesian food
The beef tasted smoked or dried

The beef within the soto Betawi was almost like a cross between beef jerky and normal fresh beef.

I’m not sure exactly how it was cooked, but it had a smoked meat / dried meat kind of texture and taste, while still being very tender and bursting with both the flavor of the beef and the soup it was swimming in.

Indonesian acar pickles
A combination with pickles was amazing

In order to eat the soto Betawi, I added some of the beef and broth to my rice, combined it with a few chilies and pickles, and ate everything in one bite.

The flavor and the combination of all the different ingredients was mind-blowing.

It was so incredibly good.

It was so good in fact, that both my wife and I finished one bowl of soto with ease, and there was nothing we could do to stop ourselves from ordering a second bowl. So we each had two bowls of this amazing soto!

Watch the full video:

If you have a few minutes, click play to watch the video of this amazing meal below.

(Or if you can’t see the video, watch it on YouTube here)

best soto Betawi in Jakarta
Here’s the outside of the restaurant to look for

Conclusion

When you’re in Jakarta you have so many delicious Indonesian foods and meals to choose from. But to really get a taste of an authentic Jakarta original dish, you’ve got to try Soto Betawi.

Made from beef and a milky broth, infused with aromatic herbs and spices, and eaten along with rice and pickles, Soto Betawi is an absolutely incredible dish.

When I was in Jakarta, I ate at Soto Betawi Haji Husein, and it proved to be among my favorite dining experiences in the city.

For amazing Soto Betawi in Jakarta, check out Soto Betawi Haji Husein.

Soto Betawi Haji Husein

Address: Jalan Padang Panjang No. 6C, Kel. Pasar Manggis, Kec. Setiabudi, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta, Indonesia (see my Jakarta food map here)
Open hours: 7 am – 2 pm from Saturday – Thursday (closed on Friday)
Total price: 110,000 IDR ($8.34) for 4 bowls of soto and rice

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

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  • jagat

    2 years ago

    you will feel more fun if you come to nepal brother

  • achmad

    2 years ago

    Hi Mark wiens

    You must try “Ikan gabus pucung”. That originally from Jakarta. If you can taste that food, you so lucky. Because ikan gabus pucung, its so scarce in Jakarta and that so delicious!

    • Mark Wiens

      2 years ago

      Hi Achmad, than you for the recommendation. I’ve already left Jakarta, but next time I’m in Indonesia I will keep an eye out for it.

  • Ashish

    2 years ago

    Please do a behind the scene video.. i want to see the camera gear you use.. how you make those awesome videos.. those closeup pics are sooo awesome.. waiting for a video on all this… thanks.. and ya come to india.. specially the northeast india.. the whole world have videos of mumbai delhi.. everyone knows the place and the food.. show the world Northeast India.. its totally unexplored but filled with finger licking, mouth watering, plate cleaning with your tongue kinda food..

  • LD

    2 years ago

    What I love about your Jakarta food posts is that those are the places we Jakartans love to go to too. Soto Haji Husein is my favourite Soto Betawi place for sure. You really do your research on what the city’s best offers are.. So I will not hesitate to take on your recommendations in other cities, I’m sure those are the best stuffs as well! Glad you enjoyed your culinary experience in Jakarta. Cheers!

  • Laura

    2 years ago

    Mark you should come to bandar djakarta restaurant at north jakarta..

    • Mark Wiens

      2 years ago

      Hey Laura, thank you for the recommendation.

  • Vivi

    2 years ago

    Mark.. I love your videos. You made me drooling every time I watch you eating. it looks like the food is so tasty…I like your excitement when you eat the food, so live and make me want to eat it too! I have a unprofessional youtube channel too with some street food there. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPS1eHlvgDdI937TDWjHNig May be one day you can also visit Semarang and other cities.

    • Mark Wiens

      2 years ago

      Hey Vivi, great to hear from you. Thanks for sharing your channel as well. I would love to visit Semarang!

  • Tina

    2 years ago

    Mark,
    Have you ever got sick from eating a lot of street foods? Any suggestion what to avoid while traveling? Thanks!

    • Mark Wiens

      2 years ago

      Hey Tina, I haven’t really ever had anything serious, luckily. But as for suggestions, I think it’s best to stick with hot freshly cooked food, and also it’s a great idea to eat at places that are busy and have lots of customers – because you know the food is fresh with a high turnover. I’m going to write more about this soon.

  • Paul

    2 years ago

    Thanks for sharing, it does look delicious!..

  • Paul

    2 years ago

    yummy,thanks

  • Listi

    2 years ago

    Hi Mark, there’s a saying that Indonesian people will sweat more when they eat compared to when they work 🙂 So I bet you’re really having good times enjoying Indo food!

  • Widjaja

    2 years ago

    Are you try sop betawi and sop kepala kambing ? You must try mark…

  • Nadezhda

    3 years ago

    I love soto haji husein! What you tasted as smoked meat- beef jerky was actually deep fried cow lungs. Other soto betawi just boil theirs, but haji husein fries them to give it a bit of crunch and that smoky flavor.

    • Mark Wiens

      2 years ago

      Hi Nadezhda, yes glad you love this place. Thank you for the information, ok, that explains it. Making my mouth water just thinking about it!

  • rambideunt

    3 years ago

    The way you eat and explain the food as if I was there eating those foods. I appreciate how you excitingly try our Indonesian dishes and how you love it. Thank you and definitely makes me want to go back to Indonesia ASAP just to eat all of them!

    • Mark Wiens

      2 years ago

      Thank you very much, I really enjoyed my trip to Jakarta and all the Indonesian foods!

  • kokimganteng

    3 years ago

    your blog and video is great mark , please try many food in indonesia , make more video indonesian food

  • Prima

    3 years ago

    Im indonesian working abroad and this post makes me want to fly home and gobble up some soto betawi 😀 btw you do take a LOT of acar there compared to the locals, haha

  • sebastian widodo

    3 years ago

    mark great video for sure, this place probably served the best soto betawi in town for sure.
    although traditionally soto betawi is not a breakfast meal but this place always is packed and just over 12 noon its usually sold out of soto, i think they open at 10am not sure.
    but great video and H. Husein is the best place for soto betawi in Jakarta

    more videos Mark !!! there’s a whole lot more of indonesian food that you need to discover, keep making great (delicious) videos !!!!

  • Yoel

    3 years ago

    When you visit Indonesia, please visit my hometown which is in Solo city.
    Most of Jakarta people when holiday is coming, usually they come to Solo for culinary vacation.
    Thats my opinion, btw you are doing great job.
    I love eat too, and also love spicy sambal 🙂

  • Jason Thaddeus

    3 years ago

    This article is great and yeah I feel like I’m seriously hungry. I love how you eat them and the video was great.
    P.S: When you’ll post the Nasi Padang video on Youtube
    P.P.S: I’m the second viewer of the soto Betawi video
    P.P.P.S: I’m your new subscriber!

    • Mark Wiens

      3 years ago

      Hey Jason, thank you very much, and thank you for watching as well. Nasi Padang I think will be sometime next week. Thank you for your support!

      • Jason Thaddeus

        3 years ago

        No problem Mark! You and Ying have a perfect chemistry! Keep it up. It seems you loved Indonesia so much

      • Jason Thaddeus

        3 years ago

        No problem Mark! You and Ying have a perfect chemistry! Keep it up. It seems you loved Indonesia so much.

  • macrae

    3 years ago

    OMG!! this article makes us want to hea to Indonesia and get some Soto Betawi, or any of this amazing looking food! our friend Adam Sharpe turned us on to your site and vids! love your work.

    • Mark Wiens

      3 years ago

      Hey Macrae, nice to meet you, thank you very much. Awesome to hear that, Adam is a great guy! Nice to see your site as well.

  • paveena k.

    3 years ago

    Amazing ..Looked at u sweat wow!!!

    • Mark Wiens

      3 years ago

      Thank you Paveena, haha, some serious sweaty eating conditions at this amazing restaurant!

  • Lauren Bishop

    3 years ago

    This article is great. I haven’t made it to Indonesia yet, but when I do I’ll definitely be trying Soto Betawi. It sounds delicious and intriguing – I’ve never had beef with a texture like that. Thanks for sharing your experience, especially the part about ordering a second bowl!!

    • Mark Wiens

      3 years ago

      Hey Lauren, you’re welcome, thank you for reading. If you ever visit Jakarta, this dish and this restaurant is amazing!