The royal family of Yogyakarta is apparently also into food. About 15 years ago, the daughter-in-law of the 9th Sultan of Yogyakarta launched a cookbook. It has become my family’s collection ever since. Most of the recipes were never disclosed before to peasant and were only served to the royals.
A few years ago, the royal family opened a restaurant that offers dishes from the cookbook. So, I am very familiar with the dishes. The restaurant is called Bale Raos. The palace personal chefs directly trained the Bale Raos chefs to assure the quality.
I ordered for myself roti jok. This dish is cute because the “roti” looks like a yellow muffin. I learned later that this dish got Dutch influence and it was the favorite food of Sultan Hamengkubuwono VII. I guess this is an adaptation of poffertjes. It came served with semur ayam (braised chicken with kecap manis). I really like the roti because it is fluffy, light, and has a slight savory flavor – thanks to the margarine used in the batter. The chicken tasted good and I like it that it has some onion chunks. I just wish there was more sauce as at some point it’s a bit dry in the mouth.
The last dish, gudeg manggar, was special. Manggar means the flower of coconut plant. It is very special because if the flower is harvested, then the tree will not produce any fruits anymore. That’s why it’s expensive. The version at Bale Raos was quite good, although I thought it could have been better. I read the famous gudeg manggar in Yogyakarta is by Bu Tinur. We didn’t have time by then, so I’ll keep it for next time.
My dad had beer Jawa. Due to religious belief, the Sultan didn’t drink alcohol. So, when he had guests, he drank a non-alcoholic beer only. Beer Jawa or Javanese beer is made from secang bark, ginger, cloves, and lemongrass. It is quite similar to wedang uwuh. The color is as golden as beer, but the taste is not even close hehehe… It is spicy, warming, and sweet. I think the chef’s idea is very brilliant though. This drink is somehow similar to bir pletok – Betawinese non-alcoholic beer that was created during the Dutch colonialism period.
Overall, Bale Raos is enjoyable. The food is good, although I cannot say it’s 10/10 because probably it is slightly adjusted to foreigner’s taste. I saw there was a Japanese tour group eating there, which kind of explained a bit why the food was not spicy, and a bit toned down. But I like the whole idea of disclosing royal food to the peasant. Food treasure like this should not be kept secret, it should be disclosed to the people so we all can help preserving our rich culinary tradition.
Restoran Bale Raos
Jl. Magangan Kulon 1
Opening hours: 10.00-22.00 everyday