This must be one of the most atmospheric eateries I'd ever been to - a tiny wooden shack in the middle of a squatter area built along a railway track. But then, it's been serving the BEST meatballs (and yes, after today's lunch, I can readily attest to that) in Malang town since 1983.
"Bakso President" (or President Meatballs) was *not* named after any famous Indonesian president (sorry, Pak Harto) but rather after the now-defunct President cinema which was torn down in 1990 so the Mitra 2 mall could be built. But Bakso President's owner, Haji Abdoel Ghoni Sugito, kept its name as his business was booming then as now.
I had a taste of Bakso President's meatballs today, and they were certainly heads and shoulders above others I'd had here - the quality approaching the versions we find in Singapore or Kuala Lumpur for its beef balls.
The way to order here - go to the service counter, where various types of meatballs are on display: "bakso" (beef balls), "bakso urat" (beef tendon balls), "bakso besar" (giant beef balls), "bakso telur ayam" (Indon-style Scotch egg), "siomay basah" (poached beefballs in wanton wrappers), "siomay goreng" (deep-fried beefballs in wanton wrappers), "bakso goreng udang" (fried shrimp balls), "tahu" (fried tofu), "lontong" (compressed rice cakes), "mie" (egg noodles), "ati ampela" (chicken liver & gizzard), "bakso telur puyuh" (beefballs with quails' eggs), etc.
Your selection will be served in a bowl, topped with a clear soup, and sprinkled with finely-chopped green shallots. Dark soysauce, tomato ketchup and an explosively hot chilli paste were served alongside as condiments, and diners would sprinkle these on their meatballs-and-soup, often turning their soups a darker or redder color depending on which types of condiment were added. Bloody delicious, I'd say.
We were seated a couple of yards away from the railway tracks, and I wondered how it'd have felt like if a freight train had whizzed by when we were slurping our meatballs and soup then. It's the quintessential Malang foodie experience, and certainly one not to be missed, IMO :-)
Jl Batanghari No. 5
Malang, East Java
Tel: 081-334 749 705