Maybe some of you have never even heard of this city to begin with. As a lesser known sister to Jakarta comprising of several different independent neighborhoods, it is not exactly a place to enjoy your holiday. But, as a city filled with numerous universities and secondary schools and home to a lot of Indonesia’s expatriate population, it’s become a second home for a lot of people studying or working there, including myself. Being an actual melting pot for people from literally everywhere has also brought a lot of innovation in terms of culinary. From student-friendly eateries to artisan food, here’s my small guide of places to eat in Tangerang.
1. Sate Ayam H. Ishak, Pasar Lama
This street food stall does not even have a permanent location! You’ll usually find the vendors parking their wagon in front of a closed shop at Pasar Lama area and opening the stall at around 4 PM there. They don’t even have any tables – just benches lined up on the sidewalk. However, don’t let its appearance fool you because a lot of Google searches I did on what to eat in Pasar Lama puts Sate Ayam H. Ishak at the top. And when I went there to actually give the satay a try, I could see why.
For IDR20.000, you’ll get 10 sticks of chicken satay with thick, peanut sauce and spicy sambal on the side. Although it looks like an ordinary plate of satay, I kid you not, it was super lean. The guys at the stall did an excellent job in separating the fat from the meat, leaving only the super lean and savory chicken meat. I also loved the sear on the satay – not too charred and burnt. The peanut sauce was less on the sweet side so if you like more sweet tastes in your sauce, be sure to ask for some extra soy sauce.
Sate Ayam H. Ishak, Pasar Lama | Pasar Lama Tangerang, Jl. Ki Samaun, Sukasari, Kecamatan Tangerang, Kota Tangerang, Banten 15810 | Open: 4-10 PM
2. Il Vero Artisan Gelato, Gading Serpong
Located in front of Pahoa School at Gading Serpong, this gelato shop looked like a cozy haven to escape the dry season heat and the stress from school. Although the shop itself is quite small with an open kitchen dominating the interior, it’s decorated with neutral colors and has huge windows which makes it seem bigger.
Let’s talk about the gelato itself. One thing I love about Il Vero is that you can get free samples of all the flavors there before deciding on which flavors to get. So of course, I went crazy and tried all the flavors available before ending up getting a scoop of Hazelnut and Mango for IDR30.000.
It took a while to decide on these flavors because they were all so good and the texture were all nice! The ones with fruit flavors actually tasted like real fruits instead of sugar and milk mixtures. Mango, in particular, really tasted fresh like summer. I also chose Hazelnut because it wasn’t too sweet and actually tasted like rich, creamy hazelnut with a hint of dark chocolate. However, the two flavors I would recommend if you have a sweet tooth are Baccio (which seriously tasted like creamy, frozen Nutella) and Stracciatella aka cookies and cream. Although these were sweet, they still tasted rich and wouldn’t leave you hating the sick flavor after too many bites like some ice creams do.
My tip for you is to get the Medium one with two scoops instead of the Small one because the price difference is only IDR5.000, but you get double the gelato.
Il Vero Italian Artisan Gelato | Ruko Golden 8 Blok E5, Gading Serpong, Serpong Utara, Tangerang | 021 21889061 | Open: 12 PM-10 PM
3. Mad Pork, Lippo Karawaci
This one is for my fellow pork lovers. Located in the food court of Villa Permata, Lippo Karawaci, this little diner lies right in the center of the complex. Appearance-wise, it’s literally one of the most minimalist kiosks in the food court without any particular signs announcing its name save for several photos of its specialty dishes on the grey wall. I actually wouldn’t have known about it if a friend had never pointed it out at me! However, this is a place which does not need to place importance on appearance because the food really speaks volumes about itself.
I got their 65-gram Babi White Cream Sauce for IDR29.000 and when the rice bowl came out, I thought it looked quite small at first. Halfway into the dish, I realized the portion was actually quite filling. The dish itself consists of deep fried chunks of pork, fried greens, and their signature white cream sauce which tasted like homemade mayonnaise. The ratio of pork:rice:greens was something I loved about the dish because there was enough of everything to go with the rice. Also, I liked how the cream sauce did not leave me feeling queasy about the taste since it wasn’t too thick.
Another dish from this place highly recommended by my friends is their Babi Sambal Matah which is basically deep fried pork with super spicy Indonesian chili coating it. If you’re into hot, spicy dishes, you should give this one a try. This place also allows you to customize your dish in so many ways. You can choose the portion size, whether you want the pork deep-fried or grilled and the extra toppings to put on the dish – essentially, build your pork bowl.
Mad Pork | Pusat Jajanan Tenda Villa Permata, Jl. Raya Karawaci / Imam Bonjol, Sukajadi, Karawaci, Kota Tangerang | Open: 4-10 PM
4. Bakmi Medan 168, Gading Serpong
This one is for the days when you just crave for some comfort food. Located in a shop house without air conditioner with a kitchen at the front and the dishwashing area at the back, this place actually showcases what the average family-owned small restaurant in Indonesia is like. The owner was super hands-on with taking orders and cooking and the dishes in the restaurant had that touch of homemade food to them. The Chinese calendar on the wall and the accent with which the shop owners spoke in particular reminded me so much of home and my extended family.
When I visited, I decided to get the dish that has always been my comfort food: Bakmi Medan. I was so happy when the dish came out and it had bean sprouts, green veggies, a bit of boiled egg braised in soy sauce ( the way my mom cooks most hard-boiled eggs), and a serving of grilled pork on top of the noodles. The best part is that this was only IDR17.000. Once you get the dish, it’s important to mix it up first because all the good seasoning is under the noodles so make sure to get it even before pouring the broth on it. As someone growing up with Chinese food from Medan, this was a seriously good bowl of noodles! I especially loved the grilled pork which was seasoned so beautifully so as not to taste too sweet. Also, that broth could make anyone feel at home immediately.
Like most moms from Medan, the store owner serves food in huge portion because no mother from Medan wants to see anyone eating their food come home hungry so make sure your stomach’s up for it. Also, if you want the ultimate Medan flavors here, make sure to get their Iced Markisa for IDR10.000 which is pure passion fruit syrup.
Bakmi Medan 168 | Jalan Boulevard Gading Serpong Blok AA3 No.64, West Pakulonan, Kelapa Dua, Tangerang | Open: 8.30 AM to 9.30 PM
5. Kafe Rute 15, Pasar Lama
If you’re a student in Tangerang on a tight budget, this is quite a good place to hang out and have dinner. Kafe Rute 15 screams “young!” with its white pillars, semi-outdoor setting, a special glass-covered private room, fish ponds, hanging lightbulbs, and wall of post-its. The vibes are quite cozy yet somewhat romantic here so if you’re taking someone out for a date and both of you are super cheap people, this isn’t a bad place to go. The only downside was that there was a lot of mosquitoes, probably because there are two ponds in the middle of the cafe and some trees and shrubs. Also, I read some reviews saying service was bad here, but obviously, things have turned around when I went there because the waitresses actually took time explaining the menu to us even before we were seated.
For main course, I got the Chicken Steak for IDR19.000. I actually expected a grilled chicken steak so I was kind of surprised when the waitress came out with this deep-fried thing. However, the steak was quite nice because the batter wasn’t too heavy. It was topped with this amazing barbeque sauce which I wished there was more of and plated with fries and sauteed vegetables on the side. I loved the seasoning of both sides because the fries was only seasoned with salt and pepper and didn’t taste too much while the sauteed veggies had this butter-y taste to them which actually made me finish that side first.
My friends and I also shared their Pisang Bakar for IDR11.000. This was basically chopped up grilled bananas topped with some sprinkles and cheese and again, they got the seasoning right. There wasn’t too much sprinkles and cheese and the burn was just right so it didn’t taste bitter. For such a good price, I was seriously happy with the food that I got here.
Kafe Rute 15 | Pasar Lama, Jalan Kisamaun No.150, Sukasari, Kecamatan Tangerang, Kota Tangerang | Open: 12 PM to 11 PM on weekdays, 12 PM to 12 AM on Fridays and Saturdays
These are just some of my favorite places to eat in Tangerang and there will definitely be a part 2 to the post as I continue to explore the area while studying there. If you have more recommendations on where to eat in Tangerang, do let me know in the comments and I’ll give your recommendations a try too!