Stew and goo

As far as I know there are only two places to get food from Papua in Jakarta, which is a shame, because it’s delicious and quite distinctive. It’s also fun to play with, as you will see. One of the two outlets is in Blok M, which is relatively nearby, so  I go now and then to get my fix.

The signature dish at this place is a fish stew served with papeda, or sago palm porridge.

The stew is spicy-tangy with lots of fresh herbs. It has strong citrusy flavors suggestive of lime leaf and lemongrass. There’s a brightness and complexity (and hotness!) to the taste that reminds me of Thai food.

But the best part is the papeda, which is served with a pair of three-pronged wooden forks. It’s more like a gel than a porridge, with a thick, gluey texture. It’s very bland and has just a hint of rooty flavor like potato or yam. It’s also very filling, turning a bowl of soup into a hearty meal.

To transport the papeda from the serving dish to your bowl, you pull a hunk of it up on the forks and then keep twirling the forks, one over the other, so the goo doesn’t fall off. When you reach your bowl, you use each fork to scrape the papeda off the other.

Of course, they could just bring you an individual serving of soup with the papeda already in it. But what would be the fun in that?


Author: Trish Anderton

I am a nonprofit communicator, Red Sox fan and amateur streetfoodologist. Once upon a time I worked for the Jakarta Globe & Jakarta Post.

6 thoughts on “Stew and goo”

  1. That looks mighty interesting. We were told very early at school that people in Papua eat Sagu instead of Rice (like the rest of the country). It was a highly favorite exam question and everything. Such a shame that I never actually got to try them myself. What's the name of the eatery? Is it like a warung jalanan type of thing?

  2. No, it's a stall called Yougwa in the basement food court of Pasaraya Blok M, Nadya – the wisata makanan end of the basement. I think the same people also have a full restaurant in Kelapa Gading, which I want to try sometime. It's definitely worth a field trip!

  3. My parents still live in Kelapa Gading, and I gotta tell you it's one of Jakarta's best food meccas. Some of the best restaurants are spread out across the main boulevard (including the most excellent Manado restaurants I've ever had). But they also have a number of concentrated food 'cities' which are pretty much like gigantic open space food courts. You should definitely stop by some time. It's only a busway away!

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