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Tempe and other wacky ice cream flavours to try when you’re in Jakarta

Tempe (fermented soybean) and kemangi (basil) ice cream at Locarasa in Kemang, South Jakarta. — Jakarta Globe pic
Tempe (fermented soybean) and kemangi (basil) ice cream at Locarasa in Kemang, South Jakarta. — Jakarta Globe pic

JAKARTA, April 15 — With so many different culinary traditions, Indonesia is well-known to be a breeding ground for weird and wonderful desserts. But have you ever tried... tempe ice cream?

The Jakarta Globe visited three unique ice cream parlours in Jakarta, places that can only be found in Indonesia, with flavours that you'd never think can be made into desserts, let alone ice cream!

1. Locarasa

Piggybacking on the success of their sister restaurant Warung Pasta, Locarasa has been making their mark on social media with its range of unique and Instagrammable ice creams.

As the name suggests, Locarasa uses local flavours, and sometimes those better known in savoury dishes!

Locarasa's manager Tessa Melati said the restaurant uses only locally sourced ingredients since its owners want to really transport the unique flavours into their ice cream creations.

Visually, the aesthetics of the ice cream at Locarasa jump out at you. The waffle cone is coloured green and pink, the pointed end wrapped in a banana leaf.

Taste-wise, it’s mind-boggling. The Klepon ice cream, named after the traditional pandan-coloured glutinous rice ball filled with liquid palm sugar and topped with shredded coconut, tastes just like its inspiration, only it melts in your mouth.

Dragronfruit sorbet, Klepon and Martabak ice cream at Locarasa. — Jakarta Globe pic
Dragronfruit sorbet, Klepon and Martabak ice cream at Locarasa. — Jakarta Globe pic

“Most people think making a klepon ice cream would be easy since the ingredients are classic Indonesian dessert ingredients — pandan, palm sugar and coconut — but it's not. The really Indonesian flavours — klepon, klappertaart, es doger — are actually the hardest to turn into ice creams.”

Only 16 flavours are on display at the cafe, but Locarasa actually has around 24 flavours on its roster.

The prices are affordable (Rp 20,000 (RM6) for two scoops, Rp 25,000 for three), so you can try on almost as many flavours as you want.

There are ice creams modelled after authentic Indonesian desserts such as Sweet Martabak (thick pancake with chocolate, nuts and butter filling), Es Doger (a coconut milk-based shaved ice dessert) and sorbets made of exotic fruits like dragonfruit and tamarillo.

Then there are the more outlandish flavours such as Kemangi (basil), Rujak (a sweet and sour salad made up of fruits and vegetables) and a favourite, Tempe (fermented soybean), usually deep fried and eaten with a plate of hot steaming rice.

Affogato with martabak ice cream instead of vanilla at Locarasa. — Jakarta Globe pic
Affogato with martabak ice cream instead of vanilla at Locarasa. — Jakarta Globe pic

Locara's gelato team once also made a Sayur Asem ice cream — based on the popular sweet and sour tamarind soup with vegetables, also often eaten with tempe — and a Kunyit Asam sorbet, based on the traditional herbal drink made of turmeric.

Both flavours were surprise hits with Locarasa's customers.

Locarasa also offers the usual options of more sober seasonal flavours such as durians and mangoes.

Try their affogato, served with Martabak ice cream. The bitterness of the espresso shot meshes well with the ice cream, the bits of chocolate and nuts, making it almost a meal than a dessert.

Address: Jalan Kemang Raya No. 88, Kemang, South Jakarta.

Opening hours: 7am-midnight (weekdays), 7am-2am (weekends)

Ting Ting Kacang and Teh Susu Marie ice cream served on a donut at Sore Sore Ice Cream. — Jakarta Globe pic
Ting Ting Kacang and Teh Susu Marie ice cream served on a donut at Sore Sore Ice Cream. — Jakarta Globe pic

2. Sore Sore Artisan Ice Cream

Best known for their donuts (Dough Darlings), Sore Sore Artisan Ice Cream has also been garnering hype for their soft dessert creations. They started online in 2015, and quickly expanded into brick and mortar stores in several cities.

According to the owners, the reason why they started making ice cream as well as donuts is simple: Donuts go down better if chased with a dollop of ice cream.

Head chef Karin Binanto said she created her ice cream flavours to induce nostalgia and a visual memory of childhood in every bite.

Her regular customers particularly love Susu Teh Marie (Marie milk tea) ice cream, which evokes the Indonesian tea ritual of dipping a Marie biscuit into milk tea.

A scoop of Es Cendol ice cream atop Tolak Angin ice cream at Sore Sore Ice Cream. — Jakarta Globe pic
A scoop of Es Cendol ice cream atop Tolak Angin ice cream at Sore Sore Ice Cream. — Jakarta Globe pic

Another favourite item is the Ting Ting Kacang ice cream, a flavour based on an old-school nutty candy bar similar to the Turkish halva.

There is also the Es Cendol ice cream, based on the iced coconut milk drink with green rice flour jellies and a sweet martabak (sweet thick pancake) ice cream.

Karin's more outlandish creations are the STMJ ice cream, based on the traditional health drink of milk, egg, honey and ginger, and the Tolak Angin ice cream, based on the spicy instant herbal drink that Indonesians consume in copious amount to stave off cold.

Real Tolak Angin is sold in sachets, and usually served mixed in warm water. The sharp Tolak Angin taste is still there in the ice cream version, giving it an overall minty zing.

Since this flavour comes with dark chocolate bits in it, perhaps the chef intended this to be the Indonesian version of mint chocolate chip ice cream.

Address: Lippo Mall Puri, Lower Ground, Jalan Puri Indah Boulevard Blok U No.1, Puri Indah, West Jakarta.

Opening hours: 10am-10pm

Es Palu Butung at Sop Konro Karebosi. — Jakarta Globe pic
Es Palu Butung at Sop Konro Karebosi. — Jakarta Globe pic

3. Sop Konro Karebosi

Hailing from Makassar, this establishment has been in business since 1968 and is more famous for their traditional grilled ribs and dark, tasty beef soup.

But they also have one dessert that's worth traveling all the way to North Jakarta — stifling hot in the dry season: Es Palu Butung, a moat of coconut porridge topped with a pile of shaved ice, magenta syrup, condensed milk and sliced bananas.

The bananas add texture and a bit of sourness to the sugary rush from this rather dense dessert.

The sweet porridge is light, and you can taste coconut everywhere you stick your spoon into in this dish. The shaved ice waters down the combined flavours, but also adds a refreshing kick. A simple dessert with very complex flavours.

Address: Jalan Boulevard Raya Blok TA No. 38, Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta.

Opening hours: 10am-10pm — Jakarta Globe

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