• Wednesday, 19 June 2024

Wong Fu Kie: Oldest Hakka Restaurant Gem in Jakarta

Wong Fu Kie: Oldest Hakka Restaurant Gem in Jakarta
Waiters bring dishes to guests' tables at Wong Fu Kie restaurant. Sharing dishes between guests is common at Wong Fu Kie. source: Perhimpunan Hakka Indonesia Sejahtera hakkaindonesia.com

SEAToday.com, Jakarta - Long before the ‘hidden gem’ term listed in Jakarta’s aficionados, Wong Fu Kie had been living it as a restaurant gem in the alley of Perniagaan Timur street in Glodok area. Wong Fu Kie is an embodiment of Hakka cuisine in Jakarta and has been serving customers on Jalan Perniagaan Timur No. 22 since 1975. Prior to that, from around 1925 to 1975, Wong Fu Kie was located in the Kongsi Besar area.

“The old place was only 25 metres from here,” explained Tjokro Indrawirawan Kusnadi or Thung Tjok Ing, the 3rd generation owner of Wong Fu Kie who has been at the helm of the restaurant since 1990.

According to Legenda Kuliner Jakarta publication by Jakarta Tourism Board in 2023, Tjokro maintained the tradition of the 1st and 2nd generation of serving authentic Hakka cuisine. Hakka cuisine is characterised by savoury, umami and aromatic dishes. The basic seasoning used is garlic which evokes the overall taste of the dish. Hakka cuisine also uses lots of cooking wine, red yeast rice or angcao, and sago flour. 

“It’s heartbreaking to know that even people my age, when they come here, they know nothing about Hakka cuisine. That’s why I am determined to continue promoting Hakka cuisine,” explained Tjokro.

Of the many menus available, noodle dishes are the ones that continue to exist until today. Mun kiaw mien is one of the noodle dishes that was invented by Ibu Acay, Tjokro’s mother, herself. Tjokro explained that mun dishes, such as mun kiaw mien and mun tofu, are Wong Fu Kie’s specialties. Other popular dishes at Wong Fu Kie are wong san fumak, or stir-fry eel with Indian lettuce and red yeast rice or angcao. The eel is filleted first then covered with sago flour before being deep-fried and then stir-fried with other ingredients.

Chinese New Year might be the right time to explore Hakka cuisine in Jakarta. There are 8 styles of Chinese cooking in general and the Hakka style is one that is familiar among the Indonesian-Chinese community. Special for Chinese New Year, you'll find some sophisticated dishes at Wong Fu Kie, such as mun hoisem (or sea cucumber) and Babi Hong Hamcoi. 

Here is some guidance: park your vehicle near Bank Central Asia Perniagaan, walk through the alley and get hungrier as you reach Wong Fu Kie. Yes, you’ll be welcomed by the wonderful aroma of the dishes and the clinking sound of wok and spatula.

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