When you come to Batam, or anywhere in Indonesia, you have to treat yourself to a martabak manis. It's a form of ban chang kueh, or apam balik, or pancake but the Indonesians have taken it to another level altogether.
My first martabak manis was the famous Martabak Markobar back in 2015. Truth be told, mine wasn't a love at first bite fairy tale nor even love at first sight with the ultra Instagrammable pancake. My first thought was it was too gimmicky. I didn't like the blink blink, dazzlingly colourful toppings that scream plastic "food". Those first bites in 2015 also didn't have the sponginess I fell so hard in love with now. It was also way too crazy sugary sweet.
Then last year (2018), the spongy pancake from this late night road side stall in Tanjung Pinang named "1889 Martabak Bangka" completely changed my mind about martabak manis. Now, every trip to Indonesia must include a bite and taste of martabak manis in the itinerary.
Every Indonesian has a personal favourite martabak or at least know a famous one. When we asked our local buddy Chris to bring us to his favourite in Batam, he took us to this Martabak 818 stall in Nagoya.
The batter is freshly beaten, and the pancake is made only on order.
The pancake removed from the hot plate, piping hot can be topped with any combination of toppings. The common toppings are margarine, condensed milk, shredded cheese, chocolate rice, boiled corn, crushed toasted nuts, peanut butter, matcha, OREO, M & M, Kit Kat, Nutella, you get the idea. The beauty of martabak manis is the toppings are limited only by our imagination. From time to time, there will be new trendy toppings that trigger extra long queues at the stall.
The whole martabak was cut and packed neatly into a paper box. Martabaks are sold as whole pancakes, never as wedges or slices. I had a martabak with red bean paste topping for IDR50,000 (SGD4.80).
The folded pancake was around 2 inches thick. The golden brown skin was crisp while the inside was tender, moist and spongy as it was full of air pockets like honeycomb.
The boiled bean paste was soft and smooth, spiked with tender nuts here and there.
I like it that Martabak 818's spongy pancake was just gently sweet with underlying pandan leaf flavour and aroma. The red bean paste was also mildly sweet. The embedded nuts were the nutty tender sweet type.
I also ordered a crispy version which is made by simply scrapping out and discarding the "pulp" from the "normal" thick pancake. For the crispy one, I had chocolate rice and crushed toasted peanut toppings.
Same thing, the crispy martabak was cut and packed in a paper box. Price IDR25,000 (SGD2.40).
I like this crispy version as much as the thick spongy one. The thin pancake was crispy like a snappy cracker and tasted just mildly sweet. It was delicious with the toasty crushed groundnuts and sweet chocolate.
Recommended for you 👍 Martabak manis is a signature Indonesian snack to include in your foodie trip to Batam.
More Batam adventures with Johor Kaki 👈 click
Restaurant name: Martabak 818
Address: Ruko Nagoya Paradise Centre Blok H No. 2, Batu Selicin, Kec. Lubuk Baja, Kota Batam, Kepulauan Riau 29432, Indonesia
GPS: 1°08'25.8"N 104°00'16.3"E 🌐 1.140503, 104.004518
Tel: +62 811-7568-188
Hours: 3:00pm - 11:30pm
Date visited: 26 Aug 2019