We'd heard that folks in the vicinity of Jogjakarta like their food sweet. But our wildest imaginations could never have conjured the Sugar Burger.
This is jada, a fat tofu or tempeh 'patty' simmered in sweet soy sauce mixed with loads of palm sugar and sandwiched between two soft rice cakes. When you take a bite the bean curd oozes sticky, salty sweetness. It's a snack sold all around the area (but made most deliciously at a small shop on the road to the Ullen Sentalu Museum). Some call it the Java Burger but - for obvious reasons - we think Sugar Burger's the more accurately descriptive title.
Diners assemble their own burgers from a tray of rice cakes, tofu, and tempeh. Chilies are an optional but, we think, necessary burger condiment, offering as they do a welcome, shocking hit of spice that perks up the whole package. One Sugar Burger's our limit, but not because the three-bite treat isn't tasty. The tofu and tempeh are actually unexpectedly addictive, combining as they do an assertive beany-savoriness with the subtle bitter-sour-sweet notes characteristic of high-quality palm sugar (think of the way plum sauce 'works' with Peking roast duck). It's those rolly-polly rice cakes that prevent us from eating more; they're way filling.
Sugar Burgers, aka jada, shop uphill from Jogjakarta on the way to Ullen Sentalu Museum; it's on you're left heading uphill, about 5 minutes from the museum. Look for the sign ('Jada', not 'Sugar Burgers').