Mie or bakmi ayam (literal translation: chicken noodle) has been one of Indonesians’ go-to comfort meals for generations. It’s cheap (you can get a bowl for less than Rp15,000, or US$1, at some places), tasty, and easy to find everywhere — from street carts, humble roadside stalls, to restaurants at upscale malls (well, maybe not as cheap there).
The dish commonly uses halal ingredients, but mie ayam’s origin can be traced to Chinese cuisine, and as such, it’s usually classified as classic Chinese-Indonesian fare. It consists of al dente wheat noodles mixed with soy sauce, oil (typically vegetable, though sometimes, chicken fat), and garlic, which is then topped with spring onions, blanched Chinese cabbage, and seasoned chicken pieces – sometimes, mushrooms get added into the mix, too. Mie ayam is commonly served with bakso (meatball) and pangsit (wonton), either in soup, or fried crispy. There’s also yamien, the sweeter variety of mie ayam, with thickened soy sauce, which results in a sweeter, browner base than what you’d see with the OG version.
In recent years, we’ve seen more and more places that sell the gourmet version of mie ayam popping up, especially in South Jakarta. We can’t say if the gourmet mie ayam is actually healthier than the ones sold on streets — but we do know that they usually use premium ingredients, are located at, or near, cool hangout places with higher price tags, and are, overall, cleaner (obviously).
Here are our recommendations for super solid gourmet mie ayam spots in South Jakarta.
It’s pretty easy to identify DEMIE Bakmi as a hipster mie ayam spot, thanks to its location within Pelaspas Darmawangsa, an establishment with a coffee shop and other cool restaurants collected under one roof. Second, their place looks like a modern and sleek take on a ramen stall, with concrete complemented by predominantly blue-hued decorations (yes, it would be a great addition to your Instagram feed).
DEMIE offers both the North Jakarta-style mie ayam with shredded chicken, and South Jakarta-style with diced chicken and mushroom. There are two varieties of noodles offered at DEMIE: the thick mie karet (translation: rubber noodle) and mie keriting (curly noodle), which is the thinner of the two. When we were there in late November 2018, we opted for Demie Keriting Ayam Komplit Bakso at Rp43,890 including tax, or around US$3.10.
The noodle were chewy, and the diced chicken with mushroom was pretty great – but the shredded chicken and meatballs were just alright. We found the seasoning and broth to be too salty. Hopefully they’ve improved on balancing that next time around, because the price is okay, considering the location and the quality of the dish — plus the portion is filling enough for a lunch.
Pelaspas Dharmawangsa, Jl. Dharmawangsa Raya No. 4, Dharmawangsa, South Jakarta. Instagram
Sam’s Strawberry Corner
No, they don’t actually put strawberries in their mie ayam, but Sam’s Strawberry Corner is famous for two things: strawberry juice, and Bandung-style yamien. Originally from the West Java capital of Bandung, Sam’s uses chewy mie keriting topped with shaved chicken, served with the sides of your choice. We usually have our yamien with bakso and boiled or crispy pangsit, while some like to have theirs with babat (cow tripe) and ceker (chicken feet). What we like about their yamien is how simple it is, served with just the right amount of sweetness.
If you’re still hungry after gobbling down your yamien, try their batagor and siomay too – those are also pretty solid.
Yamien so good you’ll forget it’s vegan. Burgreens, probably the best-known plant-based joint in Jakarta, has tasty vegan and vegetarian burgers as the main draws on their menu, but don’t overlook their other amazing dishes.
The Vegan Yamien here, for instance, consists of homemade noodles, shiitake mushroom, mustard greens, bean sprouts, and tofu skin – it’s served with plant-based dumplings, which are so good to eat on their own, and a soup. Altogether, it packs a real punch of umminess (umami yumminess). Get it at Rp69,000++ or around US$4.80, with gluten free option available. Thank us later.
Mee Pandjang Umur @ Aksara Kemang
Mee Pandjang Umur is located at Aksara Kemang, an independent bookstore which also houses Microcinema Kinosaurus, Ruang Seduh coffeeshop, and other cool stores. “Pandjang umur” means “long age” or “long life”, and it’s inspired by an old Chinese idea that slurping noodles without biting them can bring longevity. They don’t have a lot of variety in their menu, which is good, because too many mie ayam variations might confuse us. A little bird told us that you should get Es Jeruk Medan (Medan orange juice) when you’re dining in, as they only use pure orange without any added water or sugar.
We recently had Mee Ayam Bakso delivered to us via Go-Food for Rp46,200 or US$3.30. With a heftier price tag compared to other places in the list, save for Burgreens, we expected that the portion would be quite big. Their mie karet uses duck eggs in their dough to achieve an extra chewy texture, and the taste was really impressive. Sadly, the portion was pretty small for a mie ayam. We want more!
Aksara Kemang, Jl. Kemang Raya No.8B, South Jakarta, 082213079674. Instagram
Here’s the cheapest gourmet mie ayam option on this list. Miechino has dubbed its wares as “mie karet ayam jamur biasa aja” (an ordinary mie karet with chicken and mushroom), but the taste here is far from ordinary. With only Rp18,000 or around US$1.30, you’ll get a hearty bowl of their only menu option, the mie karet ayam jamur. Sides like bakso, plus boiled and crispy pangsit are sold as extra add-ons for as little as Rp5,000 or US$0.35. Plus, Miechino is located at Pasar Santa, a traditional market turned cool eatery establishment, so there’s plenty more to nosh on in the area.
Pasar Santa 1st floor, Jl. Cipaku I, Senopati, South Jakarta. Instagram