Ronde Gunung Kawi (stand Depot Cinta) GWalk, Citraland, Surabaya
Ronde is a Javanese dessert of an unknown origin. Probably, the recipe came from Chinese immigrants who regularly made glutinous balls for Lunar New Year and many other Chinese celebrations throughout the year. Meanwhile, another similar glutinous rice ball that were eaten without ginger and lemongrass tea, Kelepon, filled with brown sugar and sprinkled with shredded coconut apparently came from Burmese immigrants centuries ago. In Burma, the dessert is called Mont lone yei baw – glutinous rice balls with jaggery inside and covered with shredded coconut.
Original Hong Kong ronde that I ate at a Taiwanese porridge eatery, Happy Garden in Plasa Adhika Surabaya consisted of three round ronde balls with ginger and lemongrass tea with traces of orange peel inside the balls. The dessert cost IDR 10.000 ($1 = IDR 9.000) in 2007-2008. The Ronde Gunung Kawi that I tried last week (today is March 1st, 2011 when I wrote this article) is more like the Javanese ronde. It contained toasted peanuts, thin strips of young fresh coconut meat, tapioca pearls and of course, ronde balls!When it comes to taste, the ronde was quite good. Customers could opt to have stronger ginger taste or milder one. I chose the medium one (and it turned out that I liked the stronger ginger taste one more). The glutinous rice balls was plump and juicy, when you took a bite, the filling, which consisted of ground peanut and sugar, smoothly goes into your mouth. The ronde balls did not have any artificial coloring (they were all naturally white) which is great as I would have trouble enjoying the dish, thinking about what my digestion track would look like when traces of the coloring refused to depart.
The coconut meat was fresh and mild. In fact, the meat was so smooth that you could trace hints of coconut milk and coconut juice at the same time when you bite the meat (you would not get the same experience with strips of aged coconut that are hard to bite). The tapioca pearls were great, not too mushy or too raw (hard inside). The ginger tea was also good (unfortunately, I did not opt for the stronger taste one), the ginger aroma was quite strong without being too overpowering. We could add the sugar by ourselves, which is also great (you would not hear customers grumbling about the ginger tea being too sweet or too plain as the choice is yours. No sugar, medium sweet or super sweet, you decide. From 0 to 5, I give this ronde Gunung Kawi 4.75 stars.
Why the .25 if it was perfect? Well, it can be improved. At a stroll to a Singapore’s Pecinan (Chinese people’s district) in 2008, I bought a bowl of ronde. The bowl comprised of four glutinous rice balls and ginger tea, each was filled with different fillings: red bean, black bean paste, peanut paste and another that I could not remember. However, for IDR 8,000 (less than $1 per bowl), the Gunung Kawi ronde is truly a cheaper option and uniquely Javanese-tasting one than the Singaporean street ronde which tasted more like the Hong Kong ronde and cost about 2 Singaporean dollar (or more, I could not remember).
Ronde Gunung Kawi
– delivery order: +62 31 703 357 49
– angsle (hot Javanese dessert made of rice cake, boiled mung bean, strips of coconut meat, tapioca pearls, steamed glutinous rice, served in hot coconut milk. IDR 8,000/ bowl.
(*Review by Mel*)