Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
I was taken by the fact that the west coast of Kalimantan has a coffee drinking culture. I didn’t know about this until just before fleeing to Pontianak. As I had little time to kill before heading to Singkawang, I decided I would have a cuppa rather than visiting the Equator Monument, which was a distance away from the city central. Vira apparently did the same for different reasons; to find good food. So, we both ended up in local coffee shops in Pontianak or the ‘warung kopi’, which most of them refer to the Southeast Asia version of the coffee shop or the kopitiam.
Not knowing where to go and not feeling like opening the Lonely Planet or surfing the web, I decided to ask the receptionist at Gardenia Hotel where I could have some good eats downtown. She quickly recommended WK Winni on Gajah Mada Street, one of the popular coffee shops in Pontianak. WK stands for Warung Kopi, which translates to coffee shop.
I took her advice and enjoyed my time at WK Winni. I’m not a fan of solo traveling, but it does give me more time to sketch. Sitting there at 6 p.m. was a good time to sketch because people hadn’t started to flock in and distract my focus.
I was sketching while chipping my fried banana and sipping my milk tea once a while. Fried banana is a common Indonesian snack and I’ve loved it since forever. Fried banana that I knew was a slice of banana wrapped in battered-flour and then fried. WK Winni’s fried banana is different. The banana is cut into bigger slices, fried in battered-flour but somehow resulted in more textured surface, then poured with sweet sarikaya (made of sugar, egg and cornstarch) gravy. It was delicious and wasn’t too sweet for my liking. However, the milk tea was very sweet, I couldn’t finish it, though it helped warm my tummy after feeling a bit cold from the rain all day long.
You can also opt for other fried dumplings fritters at WK Winni. The ladies did all the magic, cooking and brewing, at the carts on the front corner. The smell would surely invite pedestrians to stop by and chomp or slurp something.
About an hour later, guests occupied almost all of the tables at the shop. I was done with my sketch and people-watching. I didn’t try the coffee there as I’m not a coffee drinker, but it looks like the Pontianak people are very keen on their coffee, as they are with hanging out on coffee shops.
I started my hunt for the best coffee shops in Pontianak the same way Vira did. I asked around. I did take the time to look into the 2009 edition of LP book but didn’t find any information about it. So, the locals were the people to go to. All answers to my questions lead me to the same destination. To get there I asked about 5 people, took 2 mini buses (short distance ones), and sat in 1 wrong place to finally arrive at the recommended Warung Kopi Suka Hati. From the front, this WK is no different from the others: narrow, crowded, front part filled with the coffee brewing station and cashier with glass displays of their products. Oh yeah! I’m in!
Inside, the high ceiling room was dim. Towards the back, the ceiling dropped creating a smaller space. Old paintings and calendars hung on the wall; fans that began to spin coming to midday. Most of the visitors are men getting their morning fix with the daily paper, men in discussion, or families with children. As much as the dim ambience was more to a triad setting, laughter and giggling children actually made it feel like a family coffee shop.
Most of the coffee shops in west Kalimantan referred to the ‘kopi tiam’ kind, which meant my milk coffee was made with condensed milk. It was definitely sweet but not overly. The making was also done in the traditional ‘kopi tiam’ way by boiling the coffee with the water and pulling the coffee when pouring. I personally like this type of coffee as I do ‘tubruk’ or coffee with debris, as it has a rich and full-bodied taste. I also had the traditional sarikaya banana fritters. The sarikaya wasn’t too sweet creating a nice subtle taste to my also favorite banana fritters.
I spent about 2 hours in the coffee shop just playing with my phone, people watching, and poking around the counter display. They had a lot of snacks, sold their own brand of coffee, and sarikaya spread. It was an easy 2 hour passing. I don’t know why the people I asked didn’t recommend me this the legendary A Siang (which I found out later on), but from the coffee and sarikaya banana fritter alone, I was happy with WK Suka Hati and recommend it. And I really did enjoy the ambiance of the shop as it seemed to be a place of the ‘dailies’. It was far from pretentious and I didn’t miss the sound of grinders or the swish of foam makers at all. Considering Suka Hati translates to ‘what the heart likes’, than I guess it pretty much did just that for me.