Flip Burger - Yogyakarta Food Guide

Name: Flip Burger Yogyakarta

Address: Jl. Candrakirana No.23, Terban, Kec. Gondokusuman, Kota Yogyakarta, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 55223

Cusine: Burgers

Specialties: Burgers

Is it possible to find a really good burger in Indonesia? This was the question I found myself contemplating one day as the wind rippled through the rice field I call my backyard. It was a question I had pondered often and at length since moving to this wonderful country. It is true, McDonald’s in Indonesia (as in many countries such as Singapore and Japan) is better than back in the United States, and while the double cheeseburger can be an absolute lifesaver during times of alcohol-induced regret, I am not sure that I would be able to confidently declare it a “great” or even “really good” burger.

Attempts to burgerize in Indonesia are often disappointing. For one, this is not a country with any deep or abiding love for either bread or cheese, two of the essential components of a good burger. Cheese is so daunting that in one episode of Masterchef Indonesia the judges forced the home-cooks to do something with a cheese plate, and it was one of the toughest challenges on the show, with people running around holding goat cheese like it was toxic waste. And bread, well, aside from Breadtalk bread which is usually heavily processed and unnaturally fluffy, it can be tricky to track down a good loaf in Indonesia. So imagine my pure, unfettered joy upon learning about the existence of Flip Burger.

I think Flip Burger was originally started in Jakarta, maybe around the upscale dining enclave of Senopati. But wherever it started, I am grateful to the burger gods for bestowing a branch on us here in Yogya, as Jakartans are already fairly spoiled for choice when it comes to Western food. It is clear from the moment you bite into a Flip Burger that the person who designed this thing understand what makes a good burger tick. For one, the burger is simple. It is not loaded up with add-ons, but just features a couple of perfectly matched ingredients that are allowed to shine: bun, beef, cheese, sauce and onions. No tomato. No lettuce. Pro move.

The brioche bun is luxuriantly soft and pliable, and the patty is quite thick. The beef tastes like ground beef, like if you made the patty at your own house from high-quality beef. The cheese melts well, and the sauce is kind of like Thousand Island. But what brings the burger together is the onions. Not just regular onions but carmelized onions that bring a rich earthy background to the burger. These five ingredients when played off one another are pretty much burger perfection. They also have fries, chicken skin and sodas and stuff, but there’s nothing remarkable about the sides. The burger on the other hand. It is fucking great. Whenever I am hungover and feeling homesick for a good greasy cheesy burger Flip burger is what I look for on Go-Jek.

Super Suikiaw 菫華餃子店(俺の餃子) - Jakarta Food Guide

Restaurant: Super Suikiaw 菫華餃子店(俺の餃子)

Address: Jl. Raya Mangga Besar No.3C, RT.5/RW.6, Mangga Besar, Kec. Taman Sari, Kota Jakarta Barat, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 11180

Cuisine: Chinese

Specialties: Suikiaw (dumplings)

Chinese food in Indonesia is often adapted to local palates. For instance, there are a number of Chinese restaurants in the Central Java city of Magelang, but the dishes all have a sort of Javanese twist which makes them insufferably sweet and not really very Chinese at all. Super Suikiaw in Mangga Besar is not like that. It is owned by an Indonesian man and his Chinese wife, and it is the real deal.

The first time I went to this restaurant it was a rather lazy afternoon when I roused myself midday from a hangover and went down to the hotel lobby where Ken straightaway asked if I wanted to eat some pig ears. “Sure” I said, because we were already drinking a bottle of wine by that point. So we hopped in the car and popped over to Mangga Besar. At the time they were renovating the sidewalk so the steps to the restaurant welcomed us with an open sewer, which is always a good sign.

Mangga Besar is Jakarta's naughty district I guess you could say. It’s where people go to have a good time and like most redlight districts some of the best food in town can be had there. Well, we walked in at around 3 in the afternoon so the Japanese businessmen eating dumplings before or after hitting the karaoke bars weren’t around yet. The restaurant staff was there, though, sat at a table upfront hand-making hundreds of dumplings for the dinner rush. We asked them how many they make every day and they said it was in the thousands.

I’d say the best thing to order here is the suikiaw with pork and chives, acar kuping (pickled pork ears) and kentang assam pedas (sour and spicy potatoes). The suikiaw is just really lovely, hand-made and steamed to tender delicate perfection. Acar kuping, if you’ve never had it, it’s pork ears that have been pickled in vinegar and mixed with chilies. The good thing about this place is they have a pretty generous hand with the vinegar so their pickled dishes have a nice acidity, and the pig ears have a proper snap without being too chewy. The potatoes, which are a classic Chinese dish, are cooked al dente, so they are supple, bathed in vineger and oil, but still have just a touch of crunch in them.

Aside from the food, the place is well-stocked with ice cold beer that comes fast to the table. In order to keep track of how many beers each table has ordered, they store them in a little basket next to your seat so you can quietly tabulate how much damage you have inflicted on your liver. Prices are reasonable. Two people can eat and drink and be happy for around IDR 300k. Anyway I highly recommend this place if you are serious about good, no-frills food (especially dumplings and acidic snacks) in a pretty colorful part of town.

Book Review: An Artist of the Floating World

This is a beautiful novel about post-war Japan. It is told from the point of view of an elderly man who was a propaganda artist during Japan’s militarization in the 1930s and is popular in high school and university courses because our protagonist is your classic unreliable narrator – and probably for other reasons. According to the protagonist, he was a very influential person in helping to stoke and then direct Japanese nationalism and ideas of marshal supremacy and imperial ambitions. After the end of the war, many of the elder generation who helped steer Japan into disaster commit suicide or are shunned from society as a younger, disgruntled, battle-scarred and thoroughly US-dominated younger generation come to resent those who caused the calamity of World War II.

In addition to this grand sweep of history, the story is very firmly rooted in a smaller family drama: the protagonist has three children. A son, who died in the war. An elder daughter, married with a young son. And a younger daughter, of marriageable age. The main family drama is whether the younger daughter will be able to marry because lots of eligible men won’t want to be associated with her disgraced father. Again, because the father is an unreliable narrator much of this has to be teased out and one wonders how much is true or just in his head. I mean, he painted nationalist paintings while hanging out in old-Tokyo’s pleasure districts in the 1930s. Did he really cause the war?

The novel reaches its eventual point of catharsis when the father admits his faults and takes some amount of responsibility. The younger daughter gets married. The old parts of Tokyo that weren’t bombed are cleared out for development. Life goes on. The sweep of history continues, laced with these tiny family moments that are insignificant to history but mean the world to a single person. So, the book tells an interesting story that brings up some themes. I’m sure you can find many thematic discussions on Sparknotes.

For me, I just thought it was a really excellently textured book, with well-developed and believable characters who, in the context of their society and times, behaved in under-stated but believable ways. Everything sort of comes together on that front; it’s a simple story about a family caught up in a difficult post-war time where a lot of things need to be sorted through and figured out. I thought the writing was impeccable; simple and to the point, and often taking the time to depict some tiny little aspect of life (like the grandpa trying to take his grandson to a monster film) in a believable and textured fashion. Little details like that really brought the book to life for me.