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 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?