Nyonya Ali- Authentic Indonesian Restaurant in Jakarta
In countries with long histories, eating is always a major part of the culture and we can expect to find fantastic dining experiences aplenty. Jakarta has its shares of the world’s culinary greats but we must dare to venture onto little side streets far off the beaten tourist path. In a small, typical office/housing unit in south Jakarta, sits an unobtrusive eatery named Nyonya Ali, which translates simply to Madame Ali.
This is a hole-in-the-wall restaurant/bakery that has been in the Ali family for generations. Don’t expect fancy tableware or pretty lighting here. What you’ll get is down-home authentic Indonesian and Chinese-Indonesian cooking the way the natives like it, at fabulous prices. Nyonya Ali is a favorite with locals and virtually unknown by tourists.
It is one of the only remaining authentic bakeries-come-restaurant in the city that offers scrumptious old-style finger foods and desserts such as Kue Mangkok, (a fluffy cupcake-like dessert with shaved coconut) and my personal favorite, Siomay, (pork and shrimp dumplings that are incredibly moist and savory). There is something indescribable about Nyonya Ali’s Siomay; I’ve traveled the world in search of the best dumplings and my heart (and palate) always leads me back to this non-descript, tiny place in metropolitan Jakarta. The Siomay here has this amazing chewy texture, almost like a dense bread pudding. This texture, which I’ve not found in any other Siomay around the world, along with the precise balance of sweet and savory is what draws me back here time and again.
Nyonya Ali also has a mouth-watering array of traditional Indonesian cookies and cakes as well as delicious entrees to eat in the tiny restaurant. Famous for Nasi Ulam (Indonesian Mixed Rice, not to be confused with fried rice, is served with sweet roasted chicken, fresh vegetables and krupuk), Nyonya Ali will not disappoint those searching for a fabulous and truly authentic Indonesian culinary experience with no fluff.