If we are talking about local food in Jakarta, then we're talking about Betawi cuisine. After all, the Betawis are the ethnic group that is also the original residents of Jakarta. Although Jakarta's residents are diverse now, we still can see the impact of the Betawis' culture in Jakarta. We can see the influence of Betawi culture on Jakarta's local cuisine today, as it cannot be separated from the said culture. If you go around Jakarta's traditional market, you'll come across some of the Betawi cuisines. Here are some Betawi foods you might stumble in Jakarta.
At a glance, Soto Betawi might look the same as other Soto (Indonesian traditional soup). If you pay close attention, though, you'll notice several characteristics of Soto Betawi. The first characteristic is its thick soup thanks to the mixture of milk, coconut milk, and selected spices. The stuffing for Soto Betawi is also slightly different. Soto Betawi usually uses beef and offal instead of chicken for the filling. Don't be put off by the stuffing, because the combination of thick soup and offal give a savory taste that you cannot get from other Soto. You might request beef only stuffing without offal if you'd prefer.
Ketoprak is the answer for salad from Betawi people. Ketoprak is made of lontong (rice cake) mixed with tofu, vermicelli, and bean sprouts. The killer vegetable combo is then poured with peanut sauce to add more flavor to the dish. Since ketoprak is mostly sold at an affordable price, don't be surprised when you see many people gulping down the healthy vegetarian meal during lunch.
If you're a vegetarian and is in dire need of a Betawi food, you can try Ketupat Sayur. Ketupat sayur is the staple of Eid al-Fitr dish in Jakarta. The recipe is made of tempeh, tofu, bean, and lontong (traditional rice cake) served with thick soup made of coconut milk. People often eat Ketupat Sayur with another dish, such as Opor Ayam (chicken braised in coconut milk). Although people eat Ketupat Sayur during Eid al-Fitr, there are food stalls at the side of the street that serves the dish all year long. So you don't need to wait until Eid al-Fitr to try out the tasty vegetarian dish!
If you ever visited a bakery in Jakarta, you might come across a bread shaped like a crocodile. True to its name, Roti Buaya literally means crocodile bread. The dough is commonly used during a Betawi wedding ceremony. The mixture is shaped like a crocodile to represent loyalty. After all, crocodiles are known to marry only once in their lifetime.
At first, Roti Buaya was plain bread with no taste. Now, the bread is stuffed with sweet fillings such as chocolates or jams. You can also find them in bakeries as it is no longer exclusively made for the Betawi wedding ceremony only.
People who have been from Malaysia must be confused with Laksa Betawi. After all, Laksa is more well-known in Malaysia. There is, however, a Betawi version of Laksa. Laksa Betawi is usually made of perkedel (fried mashed potato), basil leaves, and chives with thick coconut milk soup. Sometimes you'll mix it with Soto Betawi since they look similar to each other, but their taste is quite different. Laksa Betawi has a savory flavor with a hint of sweetness.
You can find Laksa Betawi in most Betawi cuisine restaurants. Some street vendors sell them at an affordable price, so you can find them easily if you want to try them.