When Mr. Chef Cooks Noodle on the Roadside Himself
Updated on 24 September 2018
05.00 PM - Sold Out
We've just passed through the Traffic Light of Mantup in the crowd of Wonosari Street during dusk, when a small foodstall on the roadside attracted our attention. The foodstall was quite different from the usual; it was full of waiters in formal uniforms pacing back and forth, from one corner to the other. On the front side, we could see an open kitchen with three flaming stoves operated by a chef in his typical white dress. We wondered: why did he wear formal uniform? Wasn't it just a roadside foodstall?
Curious, we decided to take a sit and ordered food there, which we found out later to bear the name of Depot Setiawan. Most dishes in this foodstall are Chinese-Indonesian foods, such as fried rice, noodles, kwetiau, cap cay, fu yung hai and pak lau. Depot Setiawan also serves fried chicken, butter sauced chicken, chicken steak, and magelangan (Magelang-style food, a combination of fried noodle and rice). After a long discussion, YogYES decided to taste one of the dishes said to be the best selling: fried noodles and vegetable cap cay in jumbo portion.
While waiting for the dishes, we talked to the Mr. Chef who was busy attracting customers: cooking three dishes simultaneously! We later knew that this man, originally named Ruwanto, was an expert chef. For years, Pak Ruwanto had worked at various restaurants in several big cities in Indonesia, including Jakarta, Bandung, and Surabaya. In 1995, he decided to stop working at restaurants and then opened this small roadside foodstall, which turned out to be very crowded until now. "Setiawan" was taken from the name of his first son, who has now grown up.
When opening the 'depot', Pak Ruswanto hadn't intended to leave his habit during his work at the restaurant. He continues to wear his trademark chef uniform, now becoming one of the characteristics of Depot Setiawan. His employees wear formal waiter/waitress uniforms just like in formal restaurants, making the 'depot' stand out in the midst of the crowd of Jl. Wonosari.
After waiting for a while, our dishes were served. The portion was indeed jumbo. The fried noodles piled up on a wide plate, decorated with various toppings such as meatball slices, chicken meat slices, and scrambled egg. The noodles were rather rubbery with minimum aroma of spices. When tasted, the flavor of ketchup and delicious spices dominated. Yet, it might not suit those who don't like sweet.
The cap cay was also served in jumbo portion, comprised of the slices of cabbage and carrot sauteed with chicken meat slices and scrambled egg. When tasted, the delicious and salty flavor from the cap cay broth fits perfectly, fusing with fresh half-cooked vegetables. You wouldn't need rice to enjoy the dishes; the jumbo portion is enough to satisfy your hunger.
Anyway, talking about noodles and cap cay, do you know that most recipes of these two dishes are a modification from the original ones in China? Because of the close relationship between Indonesia and China, there have been many cultural exchanges between the two regions, including in culinary. Some Chinese-origin dish receipts like that of fried rice, noodles, kwetiau, cap cay, and many others were brought to Indonesia. These receipts were modified to fit the material supply and the taste of Archipelagic people. These modified dish receipts were then known as Chinese-Indonesian culinary style, those we often eat today in big restaurants as well as at roadside foodstalls, just like Pak Ruwanto's Depot Setiawan.
Text PANJI G. AKBAR Photography JAYA TRI HARTONO
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