Legendary Sop Buntut (Oxtail Soup) at Hotel Borobudur & Seafood at Saung Grenvil in Jakarta
Posted August 20, 2012on:
The exotic Javanese and Manadonese lunch had left us so full, so much that I could skip dinner altogether. But the prospect of trying the famous oxtail soup or known locally as sop buntut from Hotel Borobudur was too tempting. I heard their soup was legendary. I couldn’t find any evidence that they invented sop buntut but apparently, it’s pretty darn tasty.
We got changed into something nicer and we headed north of Jakarta Pusat to the hotel. We were bombarded by a crowd of people in front of the hotel, all of whom were nicely dressed in traditional batik costumes. We walked past them and directly to Bogor Cafe at Hotel Borobudur. Lucky for us, there was no wait at all. We ordered some mocktails to sip on while waiting for our sop buntut. I don’t remember exactly what drinks those were but they were full of local tropical flavours!
After about 15 minutes wait, our sop buntut had finally arrived. The huge bowl had a gorgeous caramel coloured broth with several pieces of oxtail, tomato wedges and chopped scallions. The taste was spectacular, to say the least. It was full bodied and in clear in taste and possessed similar qualities to a well made consomme or stock. When eaten with the super tender oxtail, it was possibly one of the best soups I’ve had so far. To make the meal more substantial, we also had some jasmine rice with Indonesian crisps called krupuk.
The soup was just our appetiser. Our main course was seafood and for this, we travelled to a seafood restaurant called Saung Grenvil. As we walked into the entrance, we past by a table of large live crabs and what got me interested was the female crabs because I love the roe from a crab. As a child, I was always fascinated with the possibility of finding the bright orange roe on the shell because I could not get enough of the rich and creamy surprise with my rice! The female crabs here were not cheap though – Rp. 236,000 (approximately USD 30) per kilogram but if there is anything, this is the delicacy that is worth paying for.
We ordered Kepiting Telur Saus Padang (Female Crabs with Spicy Padang Sauce), char grilled giant head prawns and mantau goreng (fried buns) to soak up all the delicious sauce. I immediately took a piece of the shell when the dish came to the table and I could not believe what I saw! It was filled with so much roe that I was no doubt in roe heaven. =) I dipped the crispy and pillowy mantau in the sauce-covered roe and I slathered the sauce all over my rice as well. We spent the next couple of hours cracking the crabs into smaller pieces and slowly digging for the meat. I was never a big fan of crabs when I was little because it can be awfully messy. In other words, too much work for too little meat. However, I started to enjoy whole crabs prepared this way again in the recent years. The giant prawns were equally delicious with a big squeeze of lime that went so well with the sticky caramelised sauce on the shells.
I wished we had a larger party so that we could try other seafood items at Saung Grenvil. But that only means that I would have to come back again for more next time. Jakarta has been quite a journey. While the city is polluted and heavily congested, there were certainly culinary gems to be found around this megacity. It would be helpful to have a local with you at times but not having one is not a deal breaker. Looking out for such gems on your own is part of the fun and adventure, isn’t it? My next stop is the exotic island of Bali. I will be writing about my experiences with three distinct areas of Bali and the amazing food that I’ve across. Bali was the part of the trip where we splurged; so expect nice hotels, cheap local warungs, traditional dances and everything mystical in between. =)