Ruko ‘Del Espana’ no. 37
Lippo Karawaci Utara
+62 9 420 8818
One thing I miss about Melbourne when I’m in Indonesia is not being able to access fresh green vegies easily. It’s not like we can’t get spinach leaves, broccoli and bok choy in Indonesia, it’s just that getting these items that we normally take for granted back home isn’t as easy as walking to the nearest Coles. If I thought getting green vegies in Jakarta was difficult, then try getting organic green vegies – or organic anything for that matter.
Thankfully, though, the organic food movement is slowly growing (pun intended). The movement may be only small but the interest level is high enough to motivate several farmers to set up their own organic farms outside of Jakarta. One such farmer is former Catholic missionary Father Agatho Elsener from Germany. At one point, he must have realised that promoting organic produce in Indonesia was a more worthwhile pursuit than promoting Catholicism in a predominately Muslim country. And frankly, we’re all better for it.
So where does Abby’s Natural Organic Products fit into all this? It’s a small canteen that belongs to my Ie (aunty) Elsa. In addition to selling organic fruit and vegies, she also churns out traditional Indonesian dishes using produce from Father Elsener who delivers to the store twice a week.
The story behind the shop is pretty remarkable. Dear Ie Elsa was diagnosed with breast cancer several years ago. Things were tough, as you can imagine, but she believed healthy eating contributed significantly to her speedy recovery. And that’s why she decided to open up an organic store in Lippo Karawaci, a satellite community in Tangerang, a growing city west of Jakarta. Who’s Abby? That’s her daughter and my cousin :).
But back to organic produce. Tea is the drink to go to at Abby’s but freshly squeezed juices are available. My brother had a strawberry juice (Rp. 12.000/AUD$1.20) while I had a bok choy and pineapple juice (Rp. 15.000/AUD$1.50). While they’re not as sweet and filling as the stuff you get at Boost Juice, I felt a lot healthier drinking these juices.
On the day our family went to visit Ie Elsa at the shop, we ordered several dishes to share.
Gado gado (vegetable salad with peanut sauce) is a favourite Indonesian dish for many. I don’t really have a opinion about the dish either way but I was surprised to see how much better it tasted with organic vegies. Okay, so perhaps Elsa super-awesome peanut sauce which consisted of an irresistible blend of spices might have had a hand in making the dish so good. Whatever it was, it was the best salad dish I’ve had in a long time. Chuck bits of lettuce, cabbage, green beans, spinach, bean shoots, chokos, cucumber and tomatoes on a plate, top with sauce made from organic peanuts and lime juice before sprinkling it with shallots and onion cracker. It was divine and it was only Rp. 15.000 (AUD$1.50).
The tofu salad was very similar to the gado gado – the same vegies were used and the same sauce was used. There was just less vegies and more lime juice. Oh, and lots and lots of tofu cubes (Rp. 15.000/AUD$1.50). Once we were done with one plate, we eagerly ordered another.
There are meat dishes on the menu too. Dad decided to order a serving of cwie mie Malang (chicken noodles from Malang, East Java). The meal came in a set – you had egg noodles with organic greens which you’re supposed to combine with mince and broth, both from free-range chickens. On the side, there was also a single piece of fried chicken wonton (Rp. 19.000/AUD$1.90). It’s a dish that I’d recommend if you want something a bit more filling.
Although Ie Elsa insisted that the food was on the house, we told her to shush and paid for our meals. To this day, I still can’t believe how ridiculously cheap our meals were. We told Ie Elsa that those prices were way too cheap and her response was a shrug and a ‘that’s normal for organic food here.’ Hah, a dish of similar quality would cost almost $20 in an inner Melbourne cafè. I understand that you can’t compare Jakarta to Melbourne but I did still think that charging less than AUD$2 for dishes as fresh and amazing as these was ridiculous. I have to sadly say, though, that the service isn’t super fast at Abby’s. But given that Ie Elsa runs the whole shop and restaurant on her own, I’d say she’s doing a great job.
Abby’s Natural Organic Products comes highly recommended, not just because my super-awesome aunty owns it but also because anything that promotes the benefits of organic food and clean eating gets two thumbs up in my books.