Friday, August 6, 2010
Gudeg, the ugly but beautiful culinary specialty of Yogyakarta
I'm a softy at the best of times, and this guy had managed to wear down my defences. We agreed, negotiated a fee and hopped on.
Sometimes it pays to just let things happen. Because the place he took us to was very good indeed, located on a strip of Jalan Wijilan in which virtually every shop sells nasi gudeg. A "gudeg central" if you will.
Of course, you first need to get past appearances. Gudeg is not the most visually appetising dish, and I could sense that my significant other was a bit sceptical when she saw the display at the front of the restaurant.
One aspect that some diners will find odd about nasi gudeg is its sweetness. Javanese food as a whole is somewhat sweet compared to many other cuisines, and gudeg in particular is sweeter than what many would expect from a savoury dish. Apart from the sambal krecek, none of the other elements are particularly spicy; Javanese typically do not add chili to their dishes. This doesn't mean they don't like it mindblowingly hot, of course; usually whole chilies or a sambal are served on the side as an accent, with which they can control the amount of chili they eat.
The significant other was won over.
While this is referred to "dry" gudeg, there is apparently another variation of gudeg that we didn't get to try; that version features greater use of coconut milk.
You can get nasi gudeg all over Yogyakarta, particularly at the lesehan (roadside eateries) on Jalan Malioboro at night. However, what we tried there was decent but unexceptional. The best gudeg is found on Jln Wijilan, which is not far from the kraton.
Gudeg Kendil Wijilan "Bu Widodo", Jln Wijilan No. 5, Yogyakarta.
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