This is me at a McDonald's in Thamrin-Jakarta which had a screening contraption installed right at the entrance. Authorities were taking precautions against idiots who have nothing else better to do but bomb American franchises in the city (as occured in Makassar just after Hari Raya 2002)

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Potty for Pempek Palembang!
by Farah 'Fairy' Mahdzan (10-Jan-2004) | Readers Say

My love for this savory Indonesian fish cake called pempek has reached epidemic proportions, given by the mere existance of this article. Let me take you on a journey through one of my ritual visits to a pempek eatery in Central Jakarta and see how this Palembang dish pampers my palates.

Tucked away in the nooks and crannies of Central Jakarta is Megaria Pempek house. It is legendary that this tiny restaurant, which measures only 5x6 meters in area, serves the best-tasting pempeks in Jakarta. Megaria enjoys a huge customer base due to high traffic of people in the area thanks to an operating cinema theatre and a Hero supermarket nearby.
Just outside Megaria Pempek, you get to see the many different types of pempek available through its glass window. It is usually at this point that I get dizzy from envisioning myself devouring a bowl of freshly fried pempek.

After seating ourselves, a waiter "mas-mas" will swiftly approach our table with samples of the pre-boiled merchandise. The task now is to pick which one I wanted. I normally go with the biggest one: pempek kapal selam (item no. 1), which literally translates to "submarine-shaped pempek." Just for trivia's sake, pempek no. 2 is a pempek lenjer.
Shortly after our orders are taken, our portions of deep-fried pempek kapal selams will make their arrival, piping hot and swimming in cuko, a type of dark sauce which tastes like sweet, sour and spicy vinegar! Bits of dried shrimp powder and sliced cucumber are added as garnishing. Brace yourself, this particular pempek has a treat inside...

A telor rebus! A pempek kapal selam will always have one boiled egg inside it, which explains its larger size in relation to other types of pempek which are either long or rounded.

I must also mention that pempek enthusiasts claim that the success of the cuko's flavoring will influence how good a pempek will taste.

Alas, the one serving of pempek kapal selam was not enough for hungry ol' me. Can you blame me, it had been an entire year since I last sank my teeth into these lovely fried morsels of fish dough! For my second helping, I chose to sample the 1) pempek kriting and 2) pempek adaan. They taste similar to the previous pempek I had; they just came in different shapes and didn't contain boiled eggs.

Apa pun makannya, minumnya teh botol! In true Indonesian pop culture experience, the number one way to complement a meal was to wash it down with teh botol!
The very next day after visiting Megaria, I was invited to Riga's house in Pesanggrahan for a lunch of (gasp!) homemade pempek! Runi, her adorable 10-year-old cousin was more than delighted to pose with these unfried pempeks for me.

Here they are sizzling away in hot, golden oil. Ever the diligent documenter, I made myself right at home in the kitchen and proceeded to take pictures of the frying pempeks, much to my hosts' amusement. :)
Riga's mom also made tekwan, which is essentially pempek in soup! Tasty indeed! Having a meal with Riga and family felt quite authentic as I knew I was surrounded by friends who actually have origins in Palembang.

Did I say I loved pempek? I meant "obsessed!" I truly adore pempek not only for its taste and tummy-filling function; it is savoring specialty food like this that ultimately reminds me that I am once again back in the country I regard as my second home - Indonesia.


Pempek Palembang di Bioskop Megaria
A write-up on the history and operations of Megaria Pempek which I found on a Yahoo newsgroup. Originally published in Suara Pembaharuan Daily. Interesting read up on the part where the eatery had to close down due to demonstrations in 1998 because demonstrators were throwing around the restaurant's cooking equipments! This article is written in Bahasa Indonesia. If you would like me to translate it, please email me and I'll put up a copy of it on my website.

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