Street Food Guide to Jalan Jaksa



A Kaki Lima Food Cart

A classic Kaki Lima: Three wheels and two human legs. Food from one of these is legit street food. (Photo from

The most recognizable variety of street stall is the Kaki Lima, which means “five legs”. The first three “legs” are the three bicycle wheels on the cart. The other two “legs” are the legs of the person pushing the cart! While the carts can all look very similar to each other, each one specializes in a particular food item, usually written with tape or sticker letters on the glass pane of the cart.

  1. Gado-Gado (Corner of Jl. Agus Salim and Gg. 12 Kebon Sirih Barat I)

A plate of Gado-gado

It’s got veggies, proteins in the form of eggs and tofu, a chewy platform (rice or lontong), and some crunch (kerupuk): is this the perfect food or what? (Photo from Wikipedia)

By far, my favorite street food item is Gado-Gado. Actually, on most food carts, it’s usually written on the carts as “Gado²”, which I find amusing.  It’s basically an Indonesian style salad, and contains a variety of items such as potatoes, string beans, spinach, baby corn, cabbage, cucumber, tofu, tempeh, and hard-boiled eggs. The veggies can vary depending on the food cart, but in general the dish always includes hard-boiled eggs and tofu. Most varieties in Jakarta also include rice or lontong (rice cake) in the Gado-Gado. And as for the dressing, (and this is my favorite part), it’s all covered in freaking awesomely delicious peanut sauce. I may have an addiction to peanut sauce actually. To top off the dish, we get the Indonesian functional equivalent of croutons: Kerupuk, a deep-fried chip made of starch and prawn paste. Actually, labeling it as the equivalent of croutons is unfair to the kerupuk…it accomplishes the same function of croutons – adding texture and “crunch” to the dish – but with substantially more deliciousness. I always eat tons of Gado-Gado when in Jakarta, because it’s rather hard to find in Kalimantan. If you want to try Gado-Gado in Jakarta, do yourself a favor and skip the gourmet and tourist-oriented restaurants, as you’ll likely receive watered down, “westernized” versions of the dish. The real Gado² is found on the street.

2. Ketoprak (Corner of Jl. Agus Salim and Gg. 12 Kebon Sirih Barat I)

A plate of Ketoprak

Make sure you get a hearty serving of Peanut sauce, as that is what really makes this dish. (Photo from Wikipedia)

There is one other dish, very closely related to Gado-Gado, which I also love: Ketoprak! It’s basically like Gado-Gado, but it swaps a few of the veggies and rice for rice vermicelli noodles (locally called bihun). Just like Gado-Gado, the entire dish is drowned in sweet, delicious peanut sauce. I actually just tried Ketoprak for the very first time this past week, so I haven’t made up my mind whether I like it better than Gado-Gado or not. So I suppose the only solution to this dilemma is to have BOTH and have them OFTEN!

3. Satay Ayam (Jl. Wahid Hasyim, between Jl. Thamrin and Jl. Agus Salim)

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

Meat on a stick covered in Peanut Sauce…what’s not to love?

My other favorite street food in Indonesia is Satay, a skewer of seasoned and grilled meat, covered in…PEANUT SAUCE. If you sense a pattern here, yes, I LOVE peanut sauce, and my favorite dishes are definitely biased towards dishes involving it. Satay (sometimes spelled Sate) is available in different meats. Chicken (satay ayam), beef (satay sapi), and goat (satay kambing). My favorite by far is Satay Ayam, and lucky me because it’s the most common kind. Satay is the kind of food that I rarely consume as a stand-alone meal. You can certainly eat it this way, and if you sit down at a Satay joint and order it in-house, you’ll get Satay paired up with rice or longtong, certainly a filling enough meal. To me however, Satay is the perfect “to-go” food. When I’m busy with errands on the streets of Jakarta, and hunger kicks in, nothing is better than running into a Satay food cart and ordering a half-dozen satay ayam skewers dibungkus (which means “wrapped up to go”). They grill them up quickly and give you your chicken skewers inside a paper bag 1/3 filled with peanut sauce. As I make my way to my destination, I shake and dip the skewers inside the bag to ensure they are generously covered in peanut sauce, and eat them one by one. They actually give you the skewer-filled paper bag inside of supermarket-style plastic bag, which makes carrying it easy, and you can conveniently dispose of the empty skewers inside the plastic bag as you walk. When I’m finished, I just dispose of the entire thing at the nearest trash can. BOOM, that’s what I call the perfect street food.


To get to the Gado-Gado and Ketoprak (they are right next to each other) from Jalan Jaksa, walk down the street (in the same direction as the traffic). On your right side, you will see an alleyway named Gg. 12 Kebon Sirih Barat I. Follow it all the way to the end, and upon exiting, you will see two food carts to the left. These sell Gado-Gado and Ketoprak. The Gado-Gado one in particular is great because they use an extremely large pestle and mortar to grind all of the spices.

As for the Satay, there are multiple places all along Jalan Jaksa and Jalan Agus Salim. There is one place in particular however, that seems to be the most popular spot. It’s located on Jalan Wahid Hasyim, between Jl. Agus Salim and Jl Thamrin (the big street where Sarinah mall is).

Check out the map below for the locations:

Welcome to the blog!

Welcome to “Adventure First. Explanations Later.” , a blog about my travels around the world, and the adventures to be found in it.

I’m in the process of kick-starting this blog, formerly known as, in its new home at I just got back from Indonesia, where I spent a year as a volunteer doing research. Thanks to that amazing experience over there, and with the help of Dr. Cheryl Knott and Tim Laman – Wildlife Photojournalist, I got awarded a National Geographic Young Explorer’s grant! So next year, I’ll be heading back out into the field to commence my NatGeo Young Explorer’s Project, “The Lives of Orangutans.”

It’s still a couple months until my adventure begins, and until then, I have a lot of planning to do…website programming, promoting, fund-raising, obtaining research permits…I got my work cut out for me. In the meantime though, I’m going to be keeping this blog updated with news about my progress, and I’ll also be publishing some great stories about my time in Indonesia, that I just didn’t get the opportunity to share before (partly because the rainforest has really bad internet service, and partly because I was too deep into the jungle life).

So stay tune for more.

Until then, enjoy this photo of the Andes I took from a plane on the way to Tiputini Biodiversity Station in Ecuador. I feel a special connection to the Andes, due to one of my greatest memories: climbing the 5,897 m volcano, Cotopaxi. This was a life-changing moment for me, a moment that spurred me to try to lead a life of adventure, and never be afraid to step outside the boundaries. For each day can be an adventure, if we just reach out and grasp it.

Welcome to the blog.


Flying on crystal clear days over some mountains like this is amazing.

The large volcano in the foreground is Cayambe. Behind that one, the most visible volcanoes are Antisana on the left, and Cotopaxi (my favorite!) on the right. In the far background, you can also see Chimborazo in the middle, and the twin peaks of the Illinizas on the right.