The plane arrived at SOEKARNO HATTA airport in Jakarta, Indonesia on time but it took a long time to go through immigration. Unlike other countries that I visited, they ask travelers to buy a foreigner visa in Indonesia. They accept cash only, either $25 USD or Indonesian rupiah. The immigration line was very very long and I was worried about Mariska waiting for me outside the airport. Mariska would cook and film with me and organize my Indonesian meetup.
When I got out of the airport I was looking for Mariska and a lady approached.
“Maa~ngchi?” she asked.
Automatically I said “Mariska?” but soon noticed that she wasn’t Mariska.
“Yes, yes!” she said.
I thought no way, she is not Mariska. I know what Mariska looks like. I said “No, you are not Mariska?” Still raising the tone of my voice at the end, as a question.
She laughed and said “I’m Mariska’s mom. Mariska and her dad are over there.”
Mariska and her father came to me. I was very happy to see Mariska. Her eyes were full of tears when she saw me. She said “I can’t believe I’m meeting you!” Writing this now makes me emotional and my eyes are full of tears. From that moment on Mariska looked after me and her parents gave me a ride whenever I met Mariska. Her whole family joined my Gapshida project.
Mariska’s mother said they would like to take me to their favorite restaurant. I was already excited to see the it. It was a unique seafood restaurant: all the fish, shell fish, lobster, clams, and shrimp are alive and swimming in aquariums. Mariska’s mother picked a few fish, squid, shrimp, and lobster. An employee of the restaurant gathered all of them into a bucket. Then Mariska’s mom told them how she wanted the seafood cooked: fried or steamed. We went upstairs and sat down. Soon the seafood dishes were served to us with rice.
It was a very interesting system: no wonder the restaurant was crowded with so many customers. The restaurant’s name is Bandar Djakarta and it’s located in front of the Living World Mall, Alam Sutera, Tangerang. If you’re a seafood lover and have a chance to visit Jakarta, a visit here is a must. But they don’t speak English, so you’ll need a local’s help.
View from upstairs in the restaurant
Live seafood in a plastic bucket, waiting to be cooked
Cold coconut juice mixed with orange juice
After dinner, Mariska’s mother said, “You should try our durian. The store is right next door to this restaurant.” My stomach couldn’t afford even 1 sip of water at the time, so I had to refuse. We said goodbye after planning to meet the next day to shop for Korean groceries.
It was about 10 pm at night when I went to my hotel. When I checked in, the hotel concierge said: “We can upgrade you to a suite with 2 bedrooms and a kitchen.” I was puzzled because I had booked a small studio. I thought they meant I had to pay more.
So I said, “No, I reserved a studio.”
They said with a smile: “It’s a free upgrade, you don’t have to pay any more.”
Oh no! I felt like my jackpot burst! What a lucky day it was! Once I saw the kitchen, my heart was beating koong koong vigorously. “Ya ya! I can cook!”
Complimentary basket filled with cookies, a cup of ramen, fruits, and a welcome note
The next day, Mariska, her father, and I met to go shopping at a Korean store. I was very surprised at the size of the store and the variety of Korean ingredients. Mariska said the owner was Korean, but the day I visited, she wasn’t there. I found good quality water dropwort called minari. The stems were long, plump, and tender. So I decided to make minari muchim with squid for the potluck party at Mariska’s house later.
Our filming and meetup date came. I woke up early in the morning to prepare some of my ingredients. I peeled the garlic and onions and washed all the ingredients and put them into plastic bags so that I could cook right away when I got to Mariska’s house. After all the preparation was done, I decided to cut the 2 chickens that I bought to make spicy braised chicken. If I washed them and cut them into bite size pieces, it would save time preparing for the meetup.
So I opened one package and give the chicken a nice bath under running water in the sink. I thought, “Hmm, this chicken is small and cute.” And then I opened the second package and put it under the faucet. “Hmm, this guy is skinny.” Then something dropped out of the package with a “ddoop.”
Oh my god! That’s the chicken’s head! This ended up being the most shocking and scary moment of my entire Gapshida trip. I screamed “Ahhhha!” and sat down on the floor.
The water was still running in the sink and I took another look.
The head of the chicken had been tucked inside the package, and once the package was opened the head had flopped out, attached to a long stringy neck.
“How come the other one has no head?” I wondered. “Oh, they are 2 different kinds of chicken. But why does the store sell different kinds of chicken in the same section? And why didn’t Mariska tell me about this?”
Ok, after analyzing what happened, I thought, “This is a dead chicken! No need to be afraid. Who am I? I can cut fish heads easily!”
As long as I didn’t have anyone else in the hotel room with me, I had to solve this by myself. I stood up and approached the chicken again but I was still nervous. Even at that moment I thought, “I should take a photo of this for my readers.”
I lifted up the chicken and now I could see her feet and toenails. I decided to put the chicken into a plastic bag and bring it with me instead of chopping it up. Later I gave this chicken to Mariska’s mother to chop, and she gave it to her maid. But again I was startled when the maid brought me the chopped chicken as well as the head and feet., “Can you please remove the head and feet?” : )
Shooting Mariska’s delicious recipes went well. We had a big audience for the shoot: her parents, her brother, her brother’s girlfriend, Mariska’s mom’s friend and relatives, and 4 maids. So many people got involved with the whole shoot. It’s amazing, isn’t it?
I doublechecked all the ingredients for the shoot. In any minute we were going to film but I found that all the vegetables were washed and cut and displayed on a large platter. You won’t be able to know which one is bay leaves, chinese spinach, lemon grass, long green beans, or chayote because they were all were chopped. Whose idea was this? Mariska’s mother did it to help us and save time! I understood and thought she was cute, but I had to say: “I’m sorry to tell you that we need uncut vegetables. We need to show the audience the chopping, and show what each ingredient looks like.”
Mariska’s mother smiled and said, “I’m sorry, sorry!” and she brought new vegetables from the local market. The cameraman was a little late, so I was teaching Mariska’s father how to hold my camera and giving him some tips. : ) Then cameraman came, one of Mariska’s relatives.
Our cameraman Reginald Evan
Mariska’s mother brought theses kebaya the night before the shoot. Sure, why not! Cheers!
Mariska and her brother David and his girlfriend
Mariska’s family has 6 dogs, loved by everybody. These cute dogs had to be confined to somewhere upstairs during our shoot. Later they ran around the house and looked like rolling balls of wool yarn. Cute! : )
After the shoot, we prepared for the meetup party scheduled at 6 pm. It was raining heavily. Who would come to our party in this weather in rush hour? Everybody told me that Indonesian traffic jams were horrible. I felt sorry for my readers coming through the rain and heavy traffic. But my concern turned out to be unfounded: one by one they showed up with beautiful dishes to share. What made them make such a huge effort to come to the meetup? I think it’s all because of their passion for cooking. As was the case in meetups in other countries, they started talking each to other and soon became good friends.
Silvia Limanta, a queen of desserts. She is living 2 hours away in Bogor. She said: “I love to make sweet desserts!”
my ojingeo minnari muchim (spicy water dropwort with squid). Delicious!
In a Korean table setting, unsalted steamed rice is very important. I made multi-grain rice and I’m sure it provoked our appetites for the side dishes. Just looking at this rice makes my mouth water because I can imagine how delicious it will be with side dishes.
Check out all this amazing food. Some are Korean dishes and some are authentic Indonesian foods.
sagu keju (tapioca cheese cookies) made by Silvia
Spicy rice cakes on skewers
Hoddeok filled with lots of brown sugar syrup. “Maangchi, your hoddeok recipe is very delicious!” yum!
Korean seasoned fried chicken called yangnyeom tongdak. Mouthwatering!
“I can’t wait to eat all of this!”
“We can become good friends!”
“It’s very natural to smile in front of such delicious food!”
Amanda gave me a bag of cassava (yucca) chips. She said there is spiciness level from 1 to 12 and she brought level 10 for us. How spicy were they? They were endurable. : )
My favorite time: Q and A (questions and answers)
Brian took my camera to film us. “Hey guys, look here!”
Leftover food is shared to take home. Mariska is wrapping her homemade kimchi for the meetup attendees.
The next day I invited Mariska’s family to my hotel room for dinner. I had to make food with limited kitchen utensils: only 1 pot and 1 frying pan. Besides that, the knife was very dull, so it was impossible for me to cook at my usual cooking speed. But this simple dinner turned out great.
Mariska’s mother brought some fruits: from the left snake fruit, longan, mangoes and peeled pineapple on top
One day before I left, I realized the belt fish I bought from the Korean grocery store was still in the freezer. I made braised belt fish (galchi jorim) for myself. Indonesian belt fish is delicious.
I made this rice with my travel cooker and the bottom of the rice was slightly burned. Scraped burnt rice on top of my rice, belt fish, and steamed perilla leaves, delicious!
The night before I left Jakarta, I invited Mariska to stay with me at my hotel. Eventually I had the chance to my second room! I woke her up next morning and we went for breakfast in the hotel.
It was time for us to say good bye! I don’t know when we’ll meet again but I’m sure we’ll meet up someday. In the taxi to the airport, all I could think about was the warm hospitality of Mariska and her family, my passionate readers who came to the meetup in the heavy rain, and their great homemade dishes. I loved Jakarta, but it was time for me to go to the next destintion: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Yay! Gapshida! : )