Food Fight: Es Teler

Scorching heat calls for ice cold salvation. Es Teler is our go-to thirst quencher and we’re torn between two favorites.

Here in Indonesia you can find a plethora of of cold beverages on the streets and inside fancy restaurants. Es dawet, es kelapa muda, es doger, es campur, the list goes on and on. One of the simplest and most famous is es teler.

Imagine the sweet-savory flavor and creamy texture of avocado combined with ripe yellow jackfruit and soft coconut meat, then topped with coconut milk, sugar, crushed ice, syrup, and condensed milk. It’s a heavenly combination of fruity sweetness and creaminess.

This addictive beverages is said to have been invented in 1957 by Hj. Samijem Darmo Putro. How she got the idea for it is a famous tale. She said she had a dream where someone told her to sell refreshing food if she sought success, prompting her to start a fruit and beverages stall.

She had a customer who always asked in three specific fruits for his orders; those are the ingredients for es teler that we know today. He said the combination of the fruit flavors “made me teler [intoxicated]”.

The food business is named Es Teler Sari Mulia, also known as Es Teler Megaria. The beverage is famously paired with a main dish of ayam bakar solo (Surakarta-style grilled chicken).

The es teler here comes in a tall and narrow medium-sized glass. The flavors are dense; sugary but not too sweet. The fruits are ripe and fresh which makes it even richer. It’s hard not to get addicted. My concern is with the pairing, because ayam bakar solo is sweet marinated grilled chicken with a side of sambal, where I personally prefer other flavors as a contrast to the es teler.

If you find Es Teler Sari Mulia too much of a hassle, then there is another great alternative, which is Es Teler 77. The owner, Murniati Widjaja, won an es teler competition in Jakarta in 1981. She then gained confidence and opened the first ever Es Teler 77; now it has branches all over the archipelago. I always have the same dish when I visit Es Teler 77, which is es teler with mie ayam pedas istimewa (spicy special chicken noodles)

It’s slightly larger than es teler Sari Mulia. It is served in a wide glass bowl with a mound of shaved ice. Before you satisfy your sweet craving, you have to conquer the ice mound and mix contents of the the bowl together well.

It has the right amount of flavor and sweetness, and is light enough for you to order another bowl. It tastes really similar to Sari Mulia. I believe the key difference is the syrup; both businesses try their best to keep it a secret.

I think both of them provide great es teler. Sari Mulia gives a better dining experience but Es Teler 77 can be found anywhere. The latter has  better portions, and perfect to enjoy with their spicy-savory mie ayam pedas istimewa. For a signature main dish and ice beverage, Sari Mulia will set you back Rp 60,000, while Es Teler 77 is Rp 70,000.

However, at the end of the day, when the weather is really really hot, I often find myself craving the legendary Es Teler Sari Mulia.

Kompleks Bioskop
Metropole XXI
Jalan Diponegoro No. 21
Menteng, Jakarta
T: +62 21 3141041


Written by Yosua Yanuard Photographs by Yosua Yanuard August 1, 2017.