Bart’s Law: Soto Padang Kobana, Bogor (Indonesia)

Bart’s Law: Soto Padang Kobana, Bogor (Indonesia)

Ever wondered why the nasi goreng tasted like s&%t in Manjare, ever got the s&%t from eating at Bogor Permai? Been there, done that! My culinary experiences in and around Bogor led me to my own law: there is an inverse relation between atmosphere of a place and the quality of its dishes. In layman’s tongue: the fancier the place, the worse the food. And ye, behold, my eye fell on the lowest of the lowest eateries of Bogor, the warung. Here I found my favorite foods in true Indonesian atmosphere. Some of these little places deserve the attention from the expat scene. So, here’s my impression of the best of the “worst”, only available at!

A quick rule of thumb on picking a warung: do a drive-by an hour early and check out the customers. If there are many, it’s a potential gold mine. If there’s still a fair amount of customers after you return an hour later, you’ve hit the mother load. Food is definitely good here, and the turn-over is fast enough to minimize lethal bugs.

Your warungologist,


Soto Padang Kobana

What’s the difference between ‘soto’ and ‘sop’? I asked some “experts” of Soto Padang, and they couldn’t give me a distinct answer! I’ve been able to deduct some about what either is not. Sop never contains ‘santen’ (coconut milk) and soto never contains pepper. It’s the best I can come up with, the real difference is somewhere lost in the folds of time. But let me get back to the expert of Soto Padang, Kobana.

soto2Man cannot live on rice alone, but on rice with Soto Padang I can survive for a long time! Soto Padang is a clear broth with meat, noodles and ‘perkedel’ a distasteful looking, disected fried (mashed?) potato ball. Man, this sounds even worse than it looks, and the thing sure looks worse than it tastes! The soto is topped of with fluorescent pink ‘krupuk’ and fried onions.

Flamin’ hot is what Soto Padang is supposed to taste like. And flamin’ hot you can have it at Kobana. The separate ‘sambal’ (chilli) is wasted on me, as I dump most of it directly in the soup. Thus the sambal hits me thrice, first on my tongue during this fabulous treat and a few minutes later as it turns my stomach on fire. The third time… let me just hint at some dubious holes in the ceiling of my bathroom.

Eaters with a more subtle – and probably more sensible – taste will appreciate the separate chilli. They should appreciate the separate white rice even more so! For all “sambal amateurs”: eat your rice separate from the other dishes, it will absorb most of the red devil much better than half a dozen bottles of beer will! Another hint: never, never ever, never ever ever, order a “warung-brewed” drink at Kobana or drink the water provided with your meal! For drinks and desserts you go to Kang Dadang “next door” (more on that soon).

soto1How to get there
Kobana is near the corner of Jl Dewi Sartika and Jl Pengadilan (Pasar Anyar). Take Jl Jend Sudirman (in front of the palace) towards Air Mancur. Take the first left onto Jl Pengadilan, behind Regina Pacis and drive down towards the one way part of it. Park your car on the right and walk the last metres to this warung. Find Kobana on your left.

Opening hours
Like most warungs, Kobana opens around sunset and closes after the last customer – or the last food – is gone.

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