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Kedai Kelapa Binatu "An"

I decided to make a new series of photograph, revisiting places, eateries, people that are connected to my childhood and my identity as a Chinese Indonesian. This was my first stop.  This is...


For over 65 years, “Binatu An” has never failed to serve us a healthy alternative to snacking, making coconut drinks before it was trending at their historical eatery at jalan AM Sangaji.

In Jakarta, there’s only a few establishments that survive for 65 years, let alone without air conditioning! However, Binatu "An" is an exception. They knew that the heat and humidity would only work in their favor, making their legendary cold young coconut drinks more refreshing, their fish cake or otak-otak more delicious. In short, the heat is their ally in heightening the whole experience.


I, myself, remember this place as one of the nostalgic eateries that my parents and I often frequented. From time to time, I love to eat their otak-otak”and of course freshen up with a big glass of coconut drink. Going back there as an adult brought up so many familiar feelings (in the best way possible). I always think this is Chinese food, but I cannot find this Chinese food in any other part of the world, it's just...not the same. 


Unlike its name, Binatu which means Laundry in Indonesian has nothing to do with the act of cleaning and laundering clothes. Rather, it offers a selection of Chinese Peranakan food and snacks. According to Andre, who is the third generation owner of Binatu "An", initially his Grandparents, who were teachers in Kalimantan bought the property because they were following the advice of one of their students. There, they started a little grocery mart. The laundry was only bought three years later in 1958 but stopped operating in the 80s. 


During one of his travels, the Grandfather went to Taiwan where he saw coconut as a popular drink and took this inspiration to start the eatery as we know it today. 


At the moment, the eatery is being managed by Andre and his parents, whilst Oma (she’s 92), although no longer comes daily still is the rightful owner and the place is still being run according to her wish and has not seen any major modernizing. The only changes they made was in 1998, when they decided to cater to a broader audience (The eatery is popular among government officials who work in surrounding areas) and removed all of their non-halal food from the menus. 


Moving forward, Andre is looking to modernize the eatery from their system management aspect and making the place cooler and more comfortable, although no air conditioning is included in the plan, rather he strives to standardize production quality and services. He understood the importance of preserving certain traditional recipes and snacks to keep them from going extinct, which is why he is in charge of productions as well. 


For now, we can rest assured that Binatu "An" will be going strong and we will continue to enjoy it in the heat of Jakarta. 

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