It’s time to take your inner-city adventure up a notch by venturing further north to the Glodok – Jakarta’s vibrant Chinatown!
Chinatown is not for the faint-hearted. The grungy streets, narrow alleys, and run-down buildings aren’t exactly picturesque on the first glance… But if you’re adventurous, your bravery will be greatly rewarded with culinary delights (mostly non-halal), historical treasures, and cultural heritage. Don’t forget to wear something comfortable (pants and flip-flops worked well for us!), and prepare your haggling skills. Earlier is definitely better when it comes to Chinatown, as some restaurants and food karts are sold out by noon and traffic gets worse later in the day.
How to get to Glodok
Private transportation: You can drive and park your car at Pasar Glodok or the Chandra Building to start your walking tour.
Public transportation: You can the TransJakarta Blok M-Kota route which passes through the Glodok station. Alternatively, you can take a car or motorbike taxi, or better yet, the bajaj – a three-wheeled motorised vehicle that’s uniquely Java.
We recommend starting your walking tour from the bustling Petak Sembilan traditional market, AKA Pasar Petak Sembilan. You’ll find fresh vegetables, fish and meats, but you’ll also be able to find Chinese snacks and traditional medicine. Explore the market’s stalls while making your way to the center of it all to find Bakmi Loncat. We love their bakso goreng (AKA fried meatballs) and Chinese shumai – both are non-halal. Only early birds will get a taste of their famous nasi tim though, it’s usually sold out by 8am!
Historical temples and churches to visit in Glodok
In Petak Sembilan, you will find the oldest Buddhist temple in Jakarta, Dharma Bhakti (Jin De Yuan) Temple, built in 1650. Turn right on Jalan Kemenangan III and you’ll see another religious landmark, the Santa Maria de Fatima Church. You can see the strong Chinese influence on this Catholic church in its oriental decor, red doors and roofs. Across from the church is a culinary gem: Bakmi A-Hin. Famous for their wontons as well as their noodles, Bakmi A-Hin is hidden behind a gate, so it may take a second look to get to those delicious wontons. The street is also home to another stunning Buddhist temple, Toasebio.
Where to eat in Glodok: A foodie tour of Jakarta’s Chinatown
Your walking tour got you hungry? Lucky for you, you can find all the street food you want to eat, in one small alley. There are plenty of options from the expected to the bizarre, including the classic nasi campur (rice with mixed pork and vegetables), roast duck, pi-oh (steamed sea turtle), and sekba (pig intestines cooked in sweet sauce). Stop by the legendary Kopi Es Tak Kie for Medan-style coffee with condensed milk. And psst… their homemade noodle is a favorite of ours!
A few meters further, you will find Toko Kawi, a specialist in ham, jerky and meat floss. We order their deliciously unique ham by the grams and have it sliced right before us. Not far from Toko Kawi is a small food court with a couple of must-try’s, including Mie Kangkung & Siomay Si Jangkung (noodle with water spinach in a thick sweet sauce) and Kari Lam (beef or chicken curry over rice or vermicelli noodle). From there, turn left and you will find the Gado Gado Direksi, a favourite of the late political leader Gus Dur. Top tip: come early, they’re usually sold out by 2pm.
Shop at the traditional markets
Head north and you will arrive at the Pasar Pagi Asemka, where you can find almost anything. Toys, stuffed animals, accessories, umbrellas, sporting goods, you name it they have it! We love the gigantic Disney character stickers, if you have little ones around, this is the easiest way to bribe them to do anything you want.
Still in this area, you’ll find a red Chinese-style building where another culinary gem is located. On the second floor of this building, you’ll want to swing by Nasi Tim Pasar Pagi, known for its chicken rice. We like our nasi tim with raw egg on top, mix it in with the hot rice to make a Chinese version of Korean bibimbap. It’s a nice, filling way to end your culinary journey through Chinatown!
Happy touring, Honeys!