Paris Van Java
Lt. GF G-A-08
+62 22 8206 3590
Let’s get away from Jakarta’s floods, crazy traffic jams and mega megamalls for a bit and swerve east to my birth place, Bandung. Located 140km from the nation’s capital and 768m above sea level, Bandung is less populated and a lot cooler than Jakarta. This makes it a popular place for Jakarta folk to escape to on weekends.
My family and I were in Bandung to visit my dad’s side of the family and particularly my dear grandpa who once had a quick mind but unfortunately now has dementia. In the past, driving from Jakarta to Bandung would take more than half the day thanks to the bloody rough mountain roads. Thankfully, the government has since built a freeway which means that the hardest part of a Jakarta-Bandung road trip was getting out of Jakarta’s traffic jams. This also meant that we arrived in Bandung a lot earlier than anticipated. In other words, we had time to eat before meeting up with my dad’s brother, his wife and my grandpa.
Once upon a time ago, luxurious hotels and restaurants lined the streets of Bandung; that earned the city the nickname ‘The Paris of Java’ (or Parijs van Java in Dutch). While some of the restaurants and cafes are still around (I will be reviewing a few of these soon!), Bandung is now a mishmash of clothing factory outlets, cheap and dynamic eateries and hot women such as myself – it’s no wonder why people come here from places as far as Malaysia and Singapore just for a weekend. Bandung today may not be as refined but there is a shopping centre called Paris van Java which has been erected in honour of its bygone era.
We went to said shopping centre for lunch. My parents and I felt like congee so we decided to go to Ta Wan, one of our favourite Chinese restaurants in Indonesia. Nicknamed ‘the porridge place’, Ta Wan does porridge really, really well. They also do other things well, but it’s the porridge that gets people talking. Because they do it really, really well.
On that day, we decided to share a large bowl of porridge along with a few dishes.
The chicken fried rice was the first dish to arrive. It was fragrant and lovely, with a lovely hint of smokiness for extra flavour.
I can’t remember what this dish was called but I’m going to call it garlic fried chicken bits because that’s what it tasted like. Oh, it was also sticky and sweet and slightly hot but then that would stretch its name out too long and I don’t particularly want to do that. My siblings really enjoyed eating the battered bits of chicken fillet with the rice.
Sharing dishes? Forget about that! As far as my dad was concerned, he wasn’t going to share his bakmie ayam jamur (mushroom chicken noodles) with anyone! This dish was very similar to the cwie mie Malang he enjoyed at Abby’s Natural Organic Products but I’m willing to bet (Tom Waterhouse-style, of course) that they didn’t use free-range chicken here. Regardless, the dish was delicious and I especially liked the contrast between the very gentle chicken broth and the earthy and sweet chicken mushroom mix.
Finally, the dish of the day arrived: Ta Wan’s famous fish and century egg congee. You could get a regular-sized bowl for Rp. 14,000 (AUD$1.40) but given that you could get a large one for the equivalent of 5 Aussie cents (lol), it would be silly not to do an upgrade.
The congee was just as fantastic as I remembered. It had texture. It had consistency. It had flavour. And more importantly, it had a generous amount of crispy Chinese dough stick pieces. Oooooh yeaaah! It may have not been congee weather (since when IS it congee weather in Indonesia) but stuff it.
Each dish was less than AUD$3, which made it a ridiculously cheap meal by Aussie standards. I’m surprised that they don’t have a branch in Jakarta as I reckon that it’ll make a fortune there. Plus, Jakarta is desperately lacking in good and cheap Chinese restaurants. ‘But Libby, Jakarta is hotter and more humid than Bandung! Sif open up a congee restaurant there!’ you doth protest. Yeah, well, there are a couple of Ta Wan restaurants in Surabaya which happens to be hotter than Jakarta. So there.