Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
I didn’t do much research before traveling to Solo a few months ago, so I didn’t find out about Omah Sinten until we went there to get our tickets for the Matah Ati show. The ticket counter was just a simple wooden table located at the entrance of Omah Sinten. The restaurant looked nice with all the wooden and rattan furniture at a pendopo (similar to a gazebo but usually large and is very typically Javanese).
The next day, we decided to have lunch at Omah Sinten restaurant. As we picked a table, we recognized some familiar faces in the restaurant: Cindy and her family were there, Jay Subiyakto the artistic director of Matah Ati was sitting near the ticket counter, and other people with Jakarta accent at other tables. The town was invaded by the metropolitan dwellers, who were there mostly for the Matah Ati show, as I also found out from tweets and RTs. And apparently Omah Sinten is popular amongst them. Why? I’m not sure, but aside from being the location of ticket booth, the restaurant appears traditionally stylish and classy enough, which is what middle and upper class Jakartans are usually attracted to. Wait, I guess I’m talking about me too here. Hahaha…
It took us some time to choose from the menu because we didn’t know half the food that was on the menu as we weren’t quite familiar with Javanese food names. Having explained by the patient waiter, I finally chose the Garang Asem Bumbung and Kandi had the Sup Lidah Tomat. I’ve had garang asem before, but I never had it (cooked and) served in a bamboo. Its main ingredient is chicken, cooked in coconut milk with herbs and spices, and the blimbing wuluh (it’s like smaller jackfruit) gives the signature sourness to the dish. The waitress poured it into my bowl and I was ready to chow it down with the steamed rice, tempeh, tofu and stirred string beans on my plate.
As for the Sup Lidah Tomat (translates to Tomato Tongue Soup – yes, that’s right), I had a sip or two and I…forgot how it really tasted, but I remember I didn’t really like it. It was a bit too tomatoey, if I’m not mistaken.
Later on I heard from a friend that her Jakarta friends didn’t agree on the service speed at Omah Sinten. In my experience, well, it wasn’t super fast, and I did remind the waitress about our order before they finally served it on our table. However, it was still in my limit of patience – and I gotta admit I’m not a super patient person – and our food came in less than 30 minutes. But it’s Solo anyway. It’s where time goes by slowly, especially if you are used to the Jakarta, Singapore, or New York. My advice to you, when you’re visiting Solo, be prepared for their what’s-the-rush-it’s-not-the-end-of-the-world tempo. It’s a small city, everything is close by, you’ll get anywhere fast 😉
Anyway, I like the ambience of Omah Sinten because a pendopo has open spaces, which helps to give me a relaxing feeling. It’s also nice to breathe in some fresh air of the seemingly low polluted Solo city (at least compared to Jakarta’s air). Trees and leafy plants in pots are surrounding the restaurant that is located across the Kraton Mangkunegaran, one of the main tourism spots in Solo. On a non-rainy day it’s nice to walk around the restaurant, with the Kraton Mangkunegaran, Triwindhu antique market and the main avenue nearby.
Location, location, location. That’s what I learned about business from watching Donald Trump’s The Apprentice. Having a very strategic location, no wonder they not only built a restaurant, but a boutique hotel as well embedded in the property. I asked for a showing and a long-haired bellboy kindly accompanied me around the hotel, answering all my questions about the hotel. “The hotel and pendopo are built from used teak woods originally from the North Kalioso village, no tree was cut down in order to build these buildings”, he said. “Seriously??” I hope I didn’t frighten him with my bulging eyes and dropping jaws. And no, he wasn’t kidding. “The stairs were the railways blocks and the stairs handrails were the farming plows.” Wow, talk about reusing! That is an amazing idea AND implementation!
Omah Sinten boutique hotel is consisted of 10 bedrooms and a few function rooms, all equipped with traditional Javanese-styled furniture, mostly made of wood. The rooms that I saw were all clean, tidy and well-maintained, with crème colored wallpaper that matches the wooden furniture.
With online rate IDR 650,000/night, Omah Sinten isn’t quite a budget stay when you’re traveling in Solo. But judging from what I saw, the strategic location and the friendly service, I would definitely try at least one night stay at this hotel. I’ve traveled to Yogyakarta and some other places triggered by their interesting accommodations, I could definitely do the same for Omah Sinten in Solo, being located in one of my favorite cities in Indonesia 🙂
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