From visiting the National Museum and the tallest library in the world to eating street food and joining Pipiltin Cocoa’s chocolate tasting session, here are the best things to do in Medan Merdeka and Sabang neighbourhood.
Living in Jakarta, we don’t get to do outdoor sightseeing that much. More often than not, we’ll choose malls and modern cafes instead, while actually there are tons of historical sites like museums and libraries, as well as local street food that we can always explore in Jakarta. Thanks to Jelajah Rasa, we finally had a chance to play tourists at our own city, exploring our country’s national museum and library in Medan Merdeka and stuffing ourselves with delicious street food in Sabang last month. A lot of you must have passed these streets for countless times, but most of us may not even know what’s inside those buildings and have never tasted their food. Guided by Indra Wihodo and Kevindra Soemantri, we finally experienced it all and we have to say that it’s fun to go out once in a while and avoid the usual crowd at the malls.
It was raining all week, so we were glad to find that it was all sunny and bright that afternoon. The walking tour started at the National Museum of Indonesia in Medan Merdeka Barat, where the then-current exhibition “Kedatuan Sriwijaya: The Great Maritime Empire” brought visitors back to the golden maritime days of Indonesia through installations, relics and paintings. Aside from the main exhibition hall, the museum has four stories of collections: nature and environment, science and technology, social organisation, and the gold objects and ceramics. With such a huge space, the museum houses over 150,000 objects including pre-historical and archaeological collections, making it one of the best and the most complete museums in Indonesia and Southeast Asia.
Following that, we headed to the new National Library of Indonesia in Medan Merdeka Selatan by TransJakarta. Little did we know that it is the tallest national library in the world (yes, you read that right!) and we were gleaming with pride as we saw its well-constructed building. The library had just recently moved into this new building in September of last year, after being housed in its original space in Salemba since the 1980s. To reach the entrance of the main building, you need to enter from the old-school Heritage Building, which was holding a photography exhibition as part of Tempo Media Week that weekend. Portraits of prominent Indonesian figures like the president, ministers and governors were showcased inside the hall, but what caught our attention the most was the really lovely portrait of President Jokowi, who was shot with a happy expression while tossing colourful confetti beside the Indonesia.
Further inside, we finally reached the tall and modern main library behind the Heritage Building. It has The Hall of Ancient Library with old books adorning all level of its building, making us feel like we’re inside a Harry Potter movie. There’s a total of 24 floors, which you can fully access after registering as a member for free on the second floor. Books in both physical and digital forms for adults and kids from various genres are available for borrowing, making it a perfect place to binge-read anything you want.
After our visit to the National Library, we went to Sabang to have a quick coffee break at Rumate, which was founded by the late culinary legend Bondan Winarno, and enjoy their delicious kaya toast and fried cassava with Manadonese sambal roa. There were lots of food stalls on the street of Sabang that started opening up one by one as the sun set, and before going to our next stop, we visited the legendary Sakura Anpan Cake Shop, which despite now being one of the oldest bakeries in the city, was actually the most modern cake shop in town back in the days.
Our next destination was Soto Kudus Ayam Kampung Kembang Joyo to try the Soto Kudus and Nasi Gandul, a dish from Pati, Central Java, that tastes like gulai and is served with beef. Sabang’s street food like Sate Padang, Sate Ayam, Sekoteng and Wedang Ronde are also a delicacy that you should try if you visit the neighbourhood during the evening.
After stuffing ourselves with street treats, we took a short walk to Sarinah to have dessert at Pipiltin Cocoa. Selling world-class cacao, the local chocolate shop was founded by Tissa Aunilla, who was also there to explain the many different varieties of Pipiltin’s chocolate. We were given a chance to taste the chocolate from Bali, Aceh, Flores and Java, each of which is characterised with a unique flavour. The founder herself also demonstrated the grinding process of the cocoa nibs before serving us with a delicious chocolate shot to end the day on a sweeter note. Days like this always make us excited for our upcoming trips with Jelajah Rasa, and if you missed this trip, don’t worry because there will be more to come this year!
National Museum of Indonesia, Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat No. 12, Central Jakarta. p. +62 21 386 8172.
National Library of Indonesia, Jl. Medan Merdeka Selatan No. 11, Central Jakarta. p. +62 800 173 7787.
Rumate, Jl. H. Agus Salim No. 18, Central Jakarta. p. +62 21 3190 5904.
Sakura Anpan Cake Shop, Jl. H. Agus Salim No. 25 A, Central Jakarta. p. +62 21 314 4253.
Soto Kudus Ayam Kampung Kembang Joyo, Jl. H. Agus Salim No. 30, Central Jakarta. p. +62 815 1131 3020.
Pipiltin Cocoa, Sarinah, Jl. M.H. Thamrin No. 11, Central Jakarta. p. +62 821 1404 8617.
Don’t want to miss our next culinary excursion with Jelajah Rasa? Sign up for our weekly newsletter and follow us and Jelajah Rasa on Instagram at @honeycombersjkt and @jelajah_rasa on Instagram to keep up on our latest happenings.