Martabak Makeover: Updating a Street Food Favorite
Have you ever thought of having your martabak with a scoop of ice cream, strawberries, noodles, mushrooms or smoked beef? As unusual as it sounds, D’Marco Cafe has successfully taken martabak to a whole new level by giving it a finger-licking creative twist.
In addition to the usual chocolate sprinkles and grated cheese, D’Marco Cafe offers a wide variety of martabak topping choices. Its signature dish and customer favorite is the Ice Cheeseberry, a cheese martabak with a scoop of ice cream garnished with slices of fresh strawberries.
Upon taking your first bite, expect your taste buds to mix up the sour flavor of strawberries with the sweet ice cream. As if that isn’t a big enough burst of taste, the ice cream chills a part of your mouth while the freshly-prepared martabak warms.
In addition to its mouth-watering Ice Cheeseberry, D’Marco Cafe is also famous for its Ice Chocobana martabak. With caramelized banana and plenty of chocolate sprinkles, the dish is topped with a tube-shaped chocolate wafer.
Co-owner Ira Lathief and two of her partners started off as just regular lovers of martabak and coffee. In preparation for the opening of the cafe, they studied different martabak varieties before finally learning from street vendors on how to make the perfect batter.
It took them three months to discover the secret to a thick and soft martabak with crispy sides, and how to have a nice blend of flavor when using fruits and ice cream. “Making martabak isn’t as easy as it looks,” said co-owner Ika Hen drani. “Even my chef initially doubted himself when we told him to make one.”
The temperature has to be precise, the pan has to have a certain thickness and only ingredients from traditional markets can be used.
Another thing worth nothing is the size of the martabak the cafe makes compared to the traditional version, which can measure up to 30 centimeters. But don’t get fooled by how small and cute D’Marco’s offerings look, each portion can feed two — or one, if you have a big sweet tooth.
“Sometimes when you order martabak from the street vendors, they’re too big a portion,” Lathief said. “And most of the time, you have nowhere to sit and enjoy your food.”
The cafe is located in the middle of the crowded Jalan Sabang, and gives you the space to enjoy one of Indonesia’s most beloved dishes in a cozy atmosphere. Complete with a small reading corner, and a plasma TV and DVD player that customers are allowed to use, the month-old cafe is a great place for employees to relax after a tiring day in the office. Usually, a more diverse crowd can be seen during the weekends.
Ika said D’Marco is all about catering to the different communities who love martabak and hanging out.
“We know it’s hard to look for a place to hang out. Food courts might be too crowded and cafes are too expensive,” Ika said.
Sure enough, D’Marco is quite affodable with prices ranging from Rp 10,000 to Rp 25,000 [$1 to $2.65] for a plate of martabak, and about Rp 20,000 to Rp 25,000 for an indulgent drink.
Catering to different communities, D’Marco has started to attract early birds by opening at 7 a.m., three hours earlier than before, to serve its new mushroom corn soup. And it remains open until 11 p.m. for hungry night owls.
For those who are not fond of sweets, there is no need to worry. D’Marco offers savory varieties such as noodle and mushbeef (mushroom and beef).
And for those who keep careful count of their calorie intake, you might want to try D’Marco’s spicy salad dressed with homemade mayonnaise.
While you’re there, give yourself a treat and try the signature strawberry coffee. The three-layered drink consists of strawberry syrup, coffee and a big dollop of whipped cream.
What is more interesting are the morsels of strawberry lying on top of the cream. After a few vigorous stirs, the thick syrup turns the beverage a lovely pinkish-brown hue. Amazingly, it’s not too sweet or too sour. The drink is perfect for those who can’t stand strong, bitter coffees because there’s that subtle hint of freshness from the strawberry.
With all of its innovations and unique takes on the Indonesian standard, D’Marco is definitely worth a try, but for those on a diet, you might want to steer clear because the cafes treats can be hard to resist.
Jl. Sabang No. 43 A,
Tel. 021 3190 9015