Paskal Food Market in Bandung, popular with locals and tourists, offers more than 1,000 traditional street dishes in cozy surroundings without the pollution and wandering buskers and beggars. (JG)
WITH MORE than 1,000 dishes on offer, the Paskal Food Market at one of West Java capital Bandung’s biggest shopping complexes, Paskal Hyper Square is a haven for food lovers.
Located on Jalan Pasirkaliki and within walking distance from Bandung’s railway station, Paskal hosts more than 100 tenants serving uniquely Bandung dishes and snacks to food from other Indonesian regions, as well as international flavors like Korean bulgogi, Japanese bento and steaks.
“We call it the biggest street food center in Bandung,” said Devina Moeliono, Paskal Hyper Square’s marketing communications manager.
Devina said the market emphasizes serving Indonesian street food in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
The area is spacious enough to fit 4,000 customers and people can choose to sit at open-air tables or dine in one of the dozens of saungs, hut-like structures traditionally used for gatherings.
“You can bring Rp 10,000 [90 cents] with you and you can eat and hang out here, which is why the place is a favorite among students,” she said.
The variety of food on offer also attracts foreign tourists from the many backpacker hostels nearby looking to sample dishes from across the archipelago in one location.
“We like different things, so it is really nice that the three of us can have a different meal in one place,” said British tourist Imelda McGarth, 22, who came with her friends Ben Amps, 24, and Ollie Darwin, 22.
McGarth went for roasted duck, Amps tried some seafood while Darwin went for the quintessential Bandung dish Basreng – super-spicy fried meatball chips.
Darcey Supelli, a Dutch tourist, said she always heads straight to Paskal whenever she is in town.
“My first time was three years ago. This is my second time,” the 25-year-old said.
“I really like it. It’s cozy and there’s a lot of options. The atmosphere is good and the food is nice. Of course, the price is good, as well. We also can sit outdoors and the lighting is so romantic.”
Supelli said she really loves soto Betawi, a soup with coconut milk, potatoes and roasted meat from Jakarta. She also likes surabi, a Bandung pandan and coconut cake.
The market hosts some of Bandung’s best street food vendors like Sate Maulana Yusuf, a famous satay stall from Dago and the Bola Ubi shop, which sells fried sweet potato balls, originally from Jalan Gardu Jati.
“We chose the best that Bandung’s culinary scene has to offer,” Devina said. “This is why the food market is such a hit with diners.”
The food market takes these street vendors into a cozy place where diners do not need to worry about eating at the side of a polluted street and being barraged by a gauntlet of buskers and beggars. Instead, diners feast to the sound of soft jazzy tunes from the speaker or live bands during weekends.
They can also enjoy special themed corners with Balinese, Sundanese, Chinese or other traditional decors.
Devina said the market’s main attraction was the “Fountain of Hope and Luck,” which features a statue of a man holding a ring, standing next to a fountain filled with koi fish. The fountain is a hit with local diners, especially children who see the coin toss as a bit of a competition.
The Paskal Food Market is open daily. Its operating hours are 11 a.m.-11:30 p.m Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-12:30 a.m. on Saturdays and 10 a.m.-12 a.m. on Sundays. – The Jakarta Globe