New York

Martabak, a Rare Indonesian Dessert in NYC, Gets the Spotlight in Queens

Walk the streets of Jakarta or Surabaya in Indonesia and likelihood is there’s a vendor cooking up martabak. The ubiquitous candy deal with options two thick slabs of spongy, buttery, honeycomb-creviced cake. It’s mostly filled with layers of chocolate, melted cheese, crunchy roasted peanuts, and a drizzle of condensed milk. Until lately, it’s been an exceedingly uncommon dessert to seek out in New York.

Martabak manis, a candy Indonesian pancake, at the moment are fired up on the common in Astoria. Papa Don NYC is probably going the first martabak-centric brick-and-mortar in NYC to serve the beloved Indonesian avenue meals because it swung its doorways open this previous summer time at 27-10 twenty third Avenue, between twenty seventh and twenty eighth streets.

Martabak manis are cooked in a cast-iron griddle as a person sprinkles on  sugar.

Martabak manis are ready in a particular cast-iron griddle at Papa Don NYC.


A person drizzles on condensed milk from a bottle onto a paper container with slices of the Indonesian dessert martabak manis in a kitchen.

Martabak manis are a frequent Indonesian avenue meals.

New York diners have caught glimpses of martabak on different restaurant menus however these renditions have principally leaned savory — assume crispy, thin-crust, meat-filled turnovers. Wayan, a Lower East Side Indonesian spot, serves its martabak telor with floor beef and egg whereas Malaysian and Singaporean eating places like Wok Wok Southeast Asian Kitchen, Rasa, and Laut Singapura have provided a martabak roti with a curry sauce for dipping.

At Papa Don NYC, co-founder Donny Kairupan focuses on the candy model that the Warung Jancook stand sells on occasion at the Queens Night Market. Local residence cooks have additionally been identified to provide pre-packaged variations to Indonesian grocery shops like Indo Java and Ok Indofood Store in Elmhurst. Since 2015, Elmhurst-based Martabak Queens 69 has been taking pre-orders for pick-up from those that name the quantity listed on his Facebook web page.


Martabak manis in paper boxes.

Martabak manis is split into 14 items.

“Nobody else has a martabak manis store in New York,” says Fefe Anggono, founding father of Elmhurst’s month-to-month Indonesian Food Bazaar, the place Papa Don NYC additionally sells its pancakes. “Now I can get my martabak manis every month right here at my bazaar.”

Papa Don NYC’s martabak manis are made contemporary to order, staying true to the pastry’s avenue meals roots. Cooked on a forged iron martabak griddle that the husband-and-wife-team of Kairupan and Patty Liu lugged over from Indonesia, the conventional semi-circular, family-style martabak manis ($18) is sliced into 14 items, each providing totally different layers of texture and a sweetness tinged with saltiness from the gentle cheddar cheese.


Six martabak manis with different toppings, from nuts, Oreos to chocolate.

Martabak manis come in all kinds of flavors and toppings as of late.

They additionally come in 4 different flavors ($15 to $20) like espresso and ube. Customers may construct their very own pancake from a dozen toppings that embrace Nutella, coconut flakes, and Oreos. The family-portion martabak is cooked to order, so Kairupan recommends that clients name forward and keep away from the 20 to 30-minute wait. Papa Don additionally presents particular person parts — two items of any taste for $7. The conventional and low pancakes are pre-made and obtainable for walk-ins; the different flavors require a 10 to 15-minute wait time.

Martabak is Kairupan’s favourite childhood snack that traces again to his summer time holidays in Indonesia. “He’s always been talking about martabak, like ‘Oh, it’s so good; it’s my favorite,’” remembers spouse and co-owner Liu, who grew up with him in Elmhurst. He needed to broaden its availability to NYC partly for his personal consumption, however a huge catalyst for the enterprise was a life-threatening sickness.

In January 2017, Kairupan says he survived a high-risk surgical procedure to take away an inside tumor “the size of a baseball” rising in his neck, which additionally impinged on a essential artery. “That’s when everything changed for me,” he says, nonetheless sustaining nerve harm to the proper facet of his face.

The duo break up from their company finance jobs, bolted for Manado, Indonesia, the place Kairupan, reunited with household — and ample martabak. While residing there for one yr, he realized to make the deal with from 4 avenue distributors, and after returning in 2018, he later launched Papa Don NYC round these recipes again in Queens.

A person pours a batter into griddles for martabak manis.

Martabak manis are one the hottest objects at the month-to-month Indonesian Food Bazaar in Queens.

The restricted availability of martabak manis made them a sizzling ticket at the month-to-month Indonesian Food Bazaar, the place the couple kicked off their candy idea as a pop-up in January 2020. “We had five pans going at the same time and there was still a three-hour wait,” recounts Kairupan.

Still, extra challenges awaited them. Since signing the lease, the companions waited for six months for building permits from the Department of Buildings whereas nonetheless paying hire on the Astoria storefront. Earlier this fall, they handled the fallout of Hurricane Ida, which introduced in a foot-high flood that topped over stock that they’d preemptively elevated on stacked pallets.

“Things were floating down there,” says Kairupan. “We found things that were supposed to be in the front of the basement, now in the back of the basement.”

He estimates “a few thousand dollars” in losses: three damaged fridges, packing containers of substances, and customized packaging that they needed to recoup.

“But I like to stay positive. If there’s one thing this pandemic taught us, it’s that we literally could do anything we want to do if we put our hearts into it, and it’s been working,” says Donny Kairupan. “We’re thankful.”

Donny Kairupan and Patty Liu plan to take part in the Indonesian meals bazaars in the coming months as they work towards increasing their present martabak manis and boba menu with their rendition of one other cherished snack in Indonesia: the Rotiboy, a candy bun with a butter filling and a crusty espresso topping.

Papa Don NYC is open every day from midday to eight p.m.

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