Jakarta is a competitive city, and that is certainly the case for the food and beverage industry. Yet, despite all the new, fancy venues and intriguing contemporary dining experiences, some classic eateries simply stand the test of time. Yes, there are historical restaurants in Jakarta that are still operating to this day, meaning they have survived both the rapidly changing city and the ever-evolving dining scene. 

Here we pay homage to a handful of these historical restaurants in Jakarta, some of which were founded even before Indonesian independence! They are diverse, serving iconic Betawi dishes, Padang favourites, Chinese specialities and even Italian ice cream. Collectively these institutions tell the story of Jakarta’s history through food.

by Sari Widiati and Dinda Mulia

Soto Betawi H. Ma’ruf

Soto Betawi Ma'ruf as - Legendary Restaurants in Jakarta

Visited by two presidents (Abdurrahman Wahid and Joko Widodo) and a governor of Jakarta (Anies Baswedan), Soto Betawi Ma’ruf is legendary.  Almost everyone who craves to taste the capital’s most famous dish would refer to this restaurant as their go-to source for the best Soto Betawi in Jakarta.

Soto Betawi H. Ma’ruf’s had humble beginnings. The venue was once just a kaki lima, or street vendor, started in the 1940’s by Haji Ma’ruf. Now, the establishment has spread to several branches around the city, with its original ‘flagship’ venue in Menteng.

So, what has made Soto Betawi Ma’ruf so everlasting? Some will say that it is their generosity, making sure not to skimp when it comes to the soup’s fillings. By excluding the usual potatoes, veggies and tomatoes, this soto betawi hero throws in an abundance of meat, from the beef tripes to the innards. Savoury, slightly creamy with its coconut milk, and its perfect mix of spices means that patrons are surely going to ask for a second or third scoop of the most famous soto in the capital.

Jl. RP. Soeroso No. 36A, Gondangdia, Menteng
+62 857 7536 8588

Rumah Makan Sepakat

Rumah Makan Sepakat Legendary Restaurants in Jakarta

Originally opening in 1967 at Panglima Poin selling light, Padang breakfast delicacies, Rumah Makan (RM) Sepakat established itself as a fully-fledged Padang restaurant in 1969 on the second floor of a building in Blok M Square. Its decor was simple and humble, a modesty that reflects Padang cuisine. Through its decades-long lifespan, RM Sepakat has managed to hold its own against the, no exaggeration, hundreds of thousands of Padang restaurants that have opened in Jakarta since 1969. This is what makes Sepakat one of the most legendary restaurants in Jakarta.

It helps to have some signatures, of course, and RM Sepakat has one dish that can only be found at this establishment. That is their ‘Gulai Gajebo’, a red beef curry that uses the thick and fatty hump of the cow as its meat. Spicy, sour with the fatty chunks of meat cooked in asam padeh broth, with tamarind, red chilli paste, ginger and coconut water. The curry itself is light, making for a great and hearty lunch.

Since it opened, RM Sepakat has been a mainstay for the surrounding office workers and shoppers of Blok M, providing consistency in taste, experience and importantly, price!

Jl. Melawai IX No. 165,  Blok M, +62 21 7204712

Es Tak Kie

Liong Kwie Tjong was a Chinese immigrant in Indonesia who began the journey of Es Tak Kie in 1927. Opening a small coffee shop around the Petak Sembilan Market at Glodok’s Chinatown, he gave it the name ‘Tak Kie’. ‘Tak’ means ‘wisdom and humility’ and ‘Kie’ means ‘memorable’, the aim of this shop was clear, to be an establishment known for its simplicity yet beloved by many. 

As time went by, Es Tak Kie cemented its place amongst coffee lovers. Preserving its authentic taste that’s only four years short of being a century old, Es Tak Kie prides itself on not being swayed by the emerging coffee trends, instead maintaining its originality. Though for several decades it has gone stagnant, Es Tak Kie truly blossomed in the past years. Now it has expanded to seven branches, other than Glodok, Es Tak Kie can be found in Old Shanghai Sedayu City, Pantjoran PIK, fX Sudirman, Gandaria City, Taman Anggrek Mall and Sarinah. Nevertheless, it’s original shop in Glodok is without a doubt one of the most historical restaurants in Jakarta.

Jl. Pintu Besar Selatan III No. 4 – 6, Gang Gloria, Glodok
+62 21 692 8296

Eka Ria Restaurant

This is the oldest of all Chinese restaurants in Jakarta which is almost 100 years old. Initially, this restaurant was named Jit Lok Jun, founded by Tjoeng Tan in 1925 in the Glodok Trade Center (now Glodok City). Then in 1958, the control of this restaurant was held by his son Tjoeng Sang until he changed locations and used a new name: Eka Ria.

This restaurant is now in its third generation which since 1987 has occupied a new building with a capacity of approximately 1000 guests with a modern ballroom concept and has become a target for guests who want to hold events, such as sangjit (Chinese wedding ceremonies), birthdays, and other celebrations.

Heritage dishes are found throughout the menu at Eka Ria, such as their classic Bakmie Goreng Ayam (fried chicken noodles), Roasted Pigeon, Fried Chicken in Butter Sauce, Shanghai Roasted Duck Skin, Angsio Hie (deep fried fish fillet in sweet and sour sauce), and a must-try is the Nasi Manis (Chinese rice pudding with sweet sauce). 

Jl. K.H. Zainul Arifin No. 21 A-23, Central Jakarta
+62 82 311 99 7777 (WA)

Bakmi Gang Kelinici

There are many chicken noodle vendors in Jakarta, but the name Bakmi Gang Kelinci is an institution. Starting as a street vendor on the characteristically crowded alley, Jalan Kelinci, the namesake Bakmi Gang Kelinci now occupies one side of the oldest shopping centre of Pasar Baru. When it comes to noodles restaurants in Jakarta, this ones a classic.

The restaurant was founded in 1957 by Sukiman and Padmawati Dharmawan and is now run by the second generation, Kenny Sukiman. The authentic taste of this noodle is in the noodle oil which does not come from onions or chicken, as other traders rely on, but from vegetable oil with a special concoction of spices. The signature here is Bakmi Spesial AK: a bowl of noodles with abundant toppings consisting of both sweet and salty chicken, mushrooms, sliced green onions. You can order more of its mainstay menus, such as meatballs, boiled and fried dumplings, various fried rice, vermicelli, kwetiau, Cap Cay, Sapo Tahu, Siomay, and more.

Jl. Kelinci Raya, No. 1-3, Pasar Baru
+62 21 35 333 88

Ragusa Es Italia

We can’t talk about historical restaurants in Jakarta and not mention Ragusa Italian Ice Cream, a one-of-a-kind ice cream shop that was founded by 1932! It was brought to life by two Italian brothers, Luigi and Vincenzo Ragus, whose original ice cream shop existed in Bandung. They would open up stalls during big annual events in Jakarta, especially at Pasar Gambir (now called Pekan Raya Jakarta), and so popular was their ice cream they decided to open a branch at Jalan Veteran in Gambir.

After decades of success, the Ragusa brothers returned to Italy, and instead of selling their ice cream shop they gave it to one of their long-time employees, Guntoro, who has become the face of the Ragusa Es Italia to this day. Have a taste of these nostalgic and authentic Italian creameries, with favourite flavours like Tutti Frutti, Rum Raisin, Nougat, Cassata Siciliana, and Banana Split. Or, you try the Spaghetti Ice Cream, served in the shape of spaghetti. 

Jl. Veteran I No. 10, Gambir
+62 815 9707 112

Restoran Trio

With its standout green façade, and its name written for all to see, ’Restoran Trio’, if you drive past this historic spot you certainly won’t miss it. Found under the train tracks close to Gondangdia Station, this establishment was founded in 1947 by Lam Khay Tjio, Tan Kim Po and Tan Lung — i.e. the trio! This was first Jakarta Governor, Ali Sadikin’s favourite restaurant and became a popular eatery for government officials during the New Order period. It’s reputation amongst the political elite has given it legendary status among these historical restaurants in Jakarta.

Serving more than 300 authentic Cantonese dishes, you’ll find a huge variety of food at Restoran Trio. Favourites include: Lumpia Udang (prawn spring rolls), Oriental Fried Noodles, Fuyung Hai, Black Pepper Chicken, and Asparagus Soup. From generation to generation, these dishes have remained consistent, with their ‘special recipes’ continuing their success to this day. Uniquely, the restaurant is open daily from 10am to 2pm, then reopens from 5pm to 9pm.

Jl. R.P. Soeroso No. 29A, Gondangdia, Menteng
+62 21 319 36 295

NOW! Jakarta

NOW! Jakarta

The article is produced by editorial team of NOW!Jakarta