Jakarta Cafe replicates the culinary traditions of Indonesians for a unique Madisonian food cart experience.
In 2013, Maggie and Dewi Jingga took a break from online cooking games to start a business in the real world. The Jingga sisters, both mothers, decided to embark on a new culinary adventure together that included their families.
“The fun thing I like is direct contact with customers and they give feedback,” Owner Maggie Jingga said.
Jakarta Cafe’s premier dish includes a creamy chicken curry accompanied by a side of sweet crunchy hash browns and roasted peanuts over steamed white rice. This homemade dish combines the flavors of Jakarta, both sweet and spicy in one dish.
Jingga also said people love the loempia or Indonesian egg rolls to dip in their homemade chili sauce as well. Her family spends about five hours making pounds of their homemade sauce each week.
“In Indonesia, all the food is special,” Jingga said.
Jingga grew up in the Special Capital Region of Jakarta before relocating to the United States. She describes Jakarta as an agricultural place known for their fresh vegetables. Jingga said the freshness of the food is what makes Indonesian cuisine special.
“Where I come from in Indonesia, we don’t use microwaves,” she said.
She also said Indonesian cuisine is special because it requires more time and effort. Jingga said each dish incorporates flavors created by hours of work before setting the cart up for customers.
“We have farmers markets all year long,” she said.
When Maggie and her sister Dewi thought about starting a business, the Jingaa sisters wanted to create authentic Indonesian cuisine that reminded them of home. They also wanted to provide a healthy alternative to common American cuisine. Jingga said most of the dishes sold by Jakarta Cafe are vegan and gluten-free.
“I have customers that follow me everywhere because all of their family members have allergies,” she said.
Jingga said she loves exploring the different neighborhoods that make up Madison and sometimes participating in food events out of state. On special occasions, Jakarta Cafe will sell rolled ice cream.
The ice cream, both light on the stomach and easy on the eyes, attracts customers who enjoy a cold refreshing treat without the sugary sweetness of regular ice cream. Instead, rolled ice cream tastes creamy and melts after each spoonful.
“You can see how we make it because we bring the machine,” Jingga said.
This makes the experience both fun for children and adults. Dewi Jingga has three sons of her own while Maggie Jingga has two daughters. Maggie enjoys bringing her daughters to family-friendly events she brought the cart to.
“When I started my food cart, my kids were already in kindergarten,” she said.
Jingga said the girls help around now. She said they like hanging around with their mom.