M. Zakky Ramadhany
If you want to enjoy Bandung’s best-known snacks without the hassle of rushing from one place to another, make a stop at the Kiosk. The Kiosk is what is known as a pujasera — short for pusat jajanan serba ada, or a center for many kinds of snacks — which means you can have many culinary adventures in a short time frame.
In this one place, you can try almost every major culinary specialty Bandung has to offer. Even better, the venue is clean and comfortable. In short, here you can order kaki lima (food cart) snacks with bintang lima (five-star) quality.
There are five major outlets of the Kiosk in Bandung: in Braga, Dago, Setiabudi, Cihampelas Walk and the newest one in Balubur Town Square, better known as Baltos. Each outlet has a unique theme. The Kiosk in Braga is a coffee bar, the one in Setiabudi is very homey, while the new Baltos outlet is designed to have the atmosphere of an European mountain range.
During Ramadan, the Kiosk becomes very popular at sundown, when friends and family gather to break the fast. My friends recommended that I try breaking the fast at the new Baltos outlet, which has been given the grand name of the Kiosk Highland Market.
I arrived at the venue at 5 p.m. to secure a table. Meanwhile, my friend planned to catch up later, since she was still studying for an exam that she was going to take the next day. Just as I suspected, when I arrived at the venue, I found that almost every table was already reserved. Luckily, there were two seats still free. Without a second thought, I sat down at one and reserved the other by placing my bag on it.
The atmosphere that afternoon was very rowdy. The majority of diners there were young people and university students. They had all gathered there for the same reason: to break the fast together. The wait staff rushed back and forth, taking orders from each table.
After sitting there for 20 minutes, I took the initiative to order from a special menu put together for those breaking the fast. But what I saw confused me — many of the items seemed new and unfamiliar. The names of popular snacks such as iga bakar si jangkung (grilled beef ribs) and alpukat negro (avocado mocha) were nowhere to be seen.
At the same time, there were so many things I wanted to try that had been recommended by friends. I had to choose something, so I ordered es kelapa alpukat (iced avocado and coconut juice), tahu gejrot (fried tofu with a spicy sauce) and nasi liwet jambal roti (spiced rice with dried fish). My friend sent her order to me by SMS, and asked for the es campur (mixed ice, fruit and coconut milk) and bebek kalasan (lemongrass duck) to break the fast.
As I waited, I took a look around the venue. The interior design was varied and focused on comfort. There were spots designed to look like an outdoor garden with wooden tables and chairs, but there were also nooks designed in a classic cafe style, with plush sofas. There was even a five-meter-high water fountain. I enjoyed the view, but struggled to find its connection to the European mountain theme.
Finally, the time to break the fast arrived, and so did my tahu gejrot.
I was glad to see it, but wondered what happened to my drink. After fasting all day, I was dying to have a sip of something cool and fresh.
Still, there was food. Tahu gejrot is a snack that originates from Cirebon. It is made of deep-fried Sundanese tofu, doused in a spicy sauce. Mine was fresh, tasty, a little bit spicy and definitely delicious.
Ten minutes later, the es kelapa alpukat and es campur arrived at the table.
The icy treats were a welcome sight, but seeing as I ordered them half an hour in advance, I was disappointed to see that they came well past the time to break the fast.
Not long after that, the main course and my friend, Jenny, arrived at almost the same time.
As we chatted, the two of us enjoyed our sweet and refreshing dessert-like drinks.
And then came the main course: the long-awaited nasi liwet jambal roti and bebek kalasan.
Nasi liwet is a Sundanese specialty made of rice cooked with many spices, such as bay leaves, red onion, tomato, turmeric and chili. Jambal roti is a kind of dried fish, preserved with salt.
The combination was delicious, despite the extreme saltiness of the jambal roti and the fried anchovies piled on top.
Bebek kalasan is a type of fried duck, served with rice, vegetables and a garnish of kremesan — literally “crunchy bits” from the frying pan.
Jenny said the spices on the duck tasted great, but the meat itself was a bit tough.
But one thing we could both enjoy was the music. Every day, the Kiosk hosts a live band, open to requests from the audience so you can sing along to your favorite songs while you eat, making it a lively place to be in the evening.
And that’s not the only entertainment at the Kiosk. There is a reading corner for bookworms, stocked with comics and books to borrow.
Aside from the somewhat disappointing service, the atmosphere at the Kiosk Highland Market made me feel right at home. It was a great place to blow off steam and forget about the pressures of work or study — and that pesky exam in the morning.
The Kiosk Highland Market
The Kiosk Highland Market
Balubur Town Square Level 3
Taman Sari, Bandung
Tel. 022 8446 8856