Jakarta’s Durian Street (Indonesia)

Many a time I’ve tried to like durians, but it just doesn’t happen … then again, it’s not as if there’s a rule saying I should.

Nevertheless, I’ve had it fresh, in a shake, in a cake, as lempuk, with all resulting in failure. And it’s not even the awful odor that does me in — I’ve generally eaten it in places that smell a lot worse.

With that displeasing transition in tow, I present to you, JakartaIndonesia. Jakarta is one of the friendliest places I’ve ever been, but like many other cities, it takes some patience to get to the good eats. They are expanding their metro system and other forms of public transit, which is good, but it also makes the metropolis’ infamous traffic that much worse.

In short, getting to Jalan Raya Mangga Besar, or what I have deemed to be durian street (at least at nighttime), is vexing. Located in the northern part of the city relatively close to the old Dutch fort Fatahillah, and Jakarta’s Chinatown — near where a lot of the metro construction is happening — Jalan Raya Mangga Besar is busy during the day, but really buzzes at night with lots and lots of street food

It’s also where you can find stall after stall of durian, the spiky fruit native to Kalimantan and Sumatra, Indonesia, among other countries in Southeast Asia.

As it had been a few years since my last taste of something better suited for college mischief than human consumption, I took a walk along “durian street” for a small, small nibble:

Chili Time at Bangkok’s “Flavorful” Restaurant

thai food flavorful restaurant bangkokSpicy Seafood and Chicken with Cashews, Bangkok ‘Flavorful’ Restaurant, Thailand

How do you choose where to eat in Bangkok, a place where it sometimes feels as if there are more food sellers than anything else? To wit, shopping centers have multiple levels with restaurants, and sometimes across from those restaurants there’s a warren of food vendors with snacks. Streets are teeming with a range of stir-fry, stews, cut fruit, and grilled mysteries, and supermarkets are as diversely stocked as the city’s nightclubs and tuk-tuks.

With so many choices in the Thai capital, I finally gave up on rolling the dice, and searched recommendations for eating out.

A long walk down Sukhumvit, one of the busiest thoroughfares in Bangkok, took me to Flavorful restaurant, in the On Nut neighborhood.

Nondescript and standard issue the façade may be, Flavorful looks like the average casual Bangkok restaurant. But it’s never the superficialities that determine where I eat, it’s the food!

Two Local Dishes in Antalya, Turkey

In order to attend the Dubai Expo 2020 right before it ended on March 31st, I was looking at creative routings from Amsterdam. Flying direct was expensive, so perhaps there was an intermediate point that would be both a new place to a visit, and a way to lessen the cost of the trip.

SunExpress, the joint Turkish-German airline transporting frozen Europeans to warmer resorts in Turkey, came through; they not only flew from Amsterdam to Antalya, one of the most popular tourist cities on the Mediterranean, but also had a convenient (albeit seasonal) flight to Dubai. Done deal!

Now that a short weekend stay was arranged, it was time to start searching for Antalya famous foods. I asked the flight attendants about what to eat, and they all mentioned two particular dishes, piyaz and kabak tatlısı. Antalya hotel staff concurred.

I’m a bit familiar by now with Turkish food, but I had no idea what either of those things were. Even better!

Let’s start with piyaz.

piyaz turkish meal antalya

Piyaz refers to a (white) beans salad, although it stems from a Persian word meaning onion. In Antalya, piyaz receives the red-carpet treatment, getting served with tahin (tahini/sesame paste), tomatoes, onions, garlic, parsley, hard-boiled eggs, vinegar, and olive oil. The tahini makes it very rich, and the vinegar adds an unusual flavor profile not commonly seen in Turkey, save for some pickle recipes.

Oddly, as much as I repeatedly praise Turkish cuisine, the vinegar threw me off. That said, it’s an excellent dish to scoop up with local bread, then topping it with köfte (minced meatballs/skewers).

On the other hand, there was the dessert.

pumpkin dessert antalya turkey
Kabak Tatlısı (Pumpkin Dessert) in Antalya, Turkey

Kabak tatlısı translates as pumpkin dessert, and wow did that hit the spot. Pieces of pumpkin are candied in sugar syrup, then are topped with tahini and crushed walnuts. Some recipes use kaymak, or water buffalo clotted cream. Given that pumpkin is the star, it’s a colder weather dessert; indeed, when you’re eating out in Turkey, you might want to ask the waitstaff about what’s in season.


Have you been to Antalya?

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