The doors are open at quick-serve Indonesian street food shop Martabak Ok, located on 18th Street just north of Washington Avenue in Graduate Hospital. The new eatery, owned by brothers Berry The and Beddy Sonie, is slowing rolling out a menu of sweet and savory stuffed pancakes known as martabak (among other names), along with iced coffee drinks. The and Sonie are originally from Jakarta.
“It’s the most famous street food in Indonesia, and we’re using the original recipes,” says The from behind the counter, where friends of the family are lining up to order light-green pandan martabak manis overflowing with white cheddar cheese and sweet corn.
The main ingredient in their recipe seems to be dairy, with what tastes like a bucket of butter, imported from Indonesia, in the batter. In its plainest form here, the thick, spongy pancake is covered in shredded cheese and folded over into a sandwich. It gets a slather of Dutch butter on the outside before it’s sliced into pieces. The red velvet martabak is just as creamy, with drizzled condensed milk, melty cream cheese, and broken-up Oreos tucked inside the pancake. It’s one of the few options that isn’t layered with the white cheddar.
“It’s all about cheese and butter,” The says. “Combining cheese with Nutella or Oreos — in Asia it’s normal, but you don’t see it over here. But it’s a good combination when you taste it, the salty and the sweet.”
For now, they’re serving only the sweet versions. Savory options with cheese and chicken or beef — here called martabak telor — will be added in the coming weeks. Open-faced “pizzas” are also on the way, with each slice piled with a different topping, from cheese to green tea-flavored Kit Kats to peanut butter.
As the shop settles in (it just opened August 21), the menu will expand to include iced drinks, including cream cheese coffee (espresso, milk, sugar, and cream cheese) and avocado coffee (espresso, avocado, sugar, and chocolate ice cream).
Portions are enormous, easily shared by a few people and with prices to match. The martabak start at $11.95 and go up to $21.95, with most of the sweet ones around $18. Drinks are $4 to $6.
The space, at 1801 Washington Avenue in what was previously Chinese takeout spot Gourmet Wok, has been given a bright makeover. It’s mainly a takeout operation at the moment, since there’s only one small table. But more tables will be added, along with a bar and stools facing the large front window. It’s open Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sonie and his wife, Alfitri, also own Indonesia BYOB D’Jakarta Cafe at 16th and Ritner, open since last summer.