Oxtail soup, or sop buntut, has legendary status in Indonesia mainly due to its resurgence in the 1970s at the Bogor Café in Hotel Borobudur in Central Jakarta. Looking to introduce new Indonesian dishes it began to refine the recipe and make it more representative of local cuisine. It was an instant and massive success and today remains the most popular choice for sop buntut connoisseurs over 40 years later. Today adaptations, including the fairly recent sop buntut goreng, fried oxtail soup, can be found in specialist outlets, international hotels and even in franchise restaurants in malls throughout the country. Sop buntut is made using beef tails and is probably a development of the 17th century oxtail soup popular in London created by Flemish Huguenot immigrants and brought to Indonesia by the Dutch. Made using slices of heavily seasoned boiled, fried or barbecued oxtail, served in a rich clear beef broth, it also contains potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, leek and celery, and is topped with fried shallots before being enjoyed with rice, krupuk, sambal, sweet soy sauce and lime juice.
Hotel Borobudur Jakarta
Oxtail soup à la Hotel Borobudur is true Indonesian culinary legend. For decades, after a night out on the town, the city’s glitterati have headed to the Bogor Café for a bowl of oxtail soup while they unwind and chatter about the evening’s exploits.
It’s no surprise then to hear the hotel’s food and beverage director estimates that an amazing 2.5 million portions of oxtail soup have been sold in the hotel since it was first brought to the menu way back in 1974.
The Hotel Borobudur has very strict guidelines; the oxtail is imported from Australia and must satisfy stringent criteria, not least regarding size, weight and fat content. The clear stock is made to a specific, carefully guarded recipe that incorporates a delicate balance of the riches of the Spice Islands, including nutmeg, cloves, ginger and black peppercorns.
Freshly prepared each day, Café Bogor’s Indonesian-style oxtail soup features chunks of prime oxtail, carrot, tomato, potato and leek in an awe-inspiring stock, sprinkled with fried shallots. But discerning connoisseurs demand the ability to tweak the seasoning to their own idea of perfection, thus it is served with slices of lime, a tomato-chilli sambal, pickles and melinjo crackers.
That this Jakarta classic remains in such demand – they sell around 350kg every day in the hotel’s food outlets, as well as serving it at banquets, weddings and outside events – is truly amazing. We can highly recommend joining the crowds and finding out for yourself!
Located in the heart of one of Bali’s major tourist zones on Jalan Petitenget, Biku is a popular and unique venue being a combination of tea lounge, restaurant, antique and book store, all housed together in a beautiful ancient Javanese teak joglo.
Famous for its afternoon tea and distinctive atmosphere, Biku is a fusion of East meets West, modern meets traditional. As well as afternoon teas, some terrific cakes and a range of international dishes, it serves a host of excellent Indonesian food, including one of the best sop buntut in Bali.
The Biku sop buntut features meaty pieces of oxtail served in a piping hot broth. The broth itself is rich, buttery and dark, packed with carrots and sliced boiled potato. Although spiced, it is not overpowering. Accompanied by a large fat crispy cracker, water spinach drenched in tomato sambal and either white or brown rice topped with shallots, it is a delicious take on this classic dish. To avoid disappointment, booking via the website or by phone is highly recommended.
No matter whether it’s a street-side café or dazzling hotel restaurant, if it serves sop buntut, then this iconic oxtail soup is bound to be amongst the most popular dishes on the menu. Throughout the archipelago Indonesians seem to have a near addiction to this wholesome and hearty meal, and its status and popularity ensures it is present even on the menus of many of Bali’s five-star luxury resorts. In fact, this is where some of the best are to be found, like at the Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua where Chef Isep, chef de cuisine at the award-winning Kwee Zeen restaurant, oversees a plethora of superb classic Indonesian dishes including one heck of a sop buntut. Beautifully presented in a natural clay pot over candlelight, the spicy broth is rich and crammed with oxtail, tomato, potato, greens and carrot and garnished with fried garlic. Served with crispy shallot-topped white rice, crackers and secret recipe condiments, it looks as delightful as it tastes.