Rawon @ Jamoo, Shangri-La Hotel Surabaya : The traditional Indonesian Beef black soup

Written by @Lan & Edited by @joehairie
(Photos by curiostraveller.com team members unless stated otherwise)


“I live on good soup, not on fine words.’-Moliere, French Playwright 1622-1673

Previously, we wrote about our first time experience drinking Jamu. This time around, we will reveal what we both thought about Rawon, an Indonesian dish originated from Surabaya. Initially, we were not sure what to expect. We’ve read about it, seen it on TV, hearing people talked about it but we yet to taste it until we were at Jamoo, Shangri-La Hotel Surabaya. Another first time experience! What more can we ask for? We tasted the Traditional Herbal Drink and now it’s the Indonesian/East Javanese Traditional Dark Beef Soup. Such experience really broaden our culinary perspective! Did we enjoy consuming that particular Beef black soup? Here’s our honest review..

The Rawon @ Jamoo

Rawon Set (Rawon is actually the beef black soup)

There are 4 main elements in that Rawon set. The Rawon or black beef soup is the main element that you will be getting, it is the star in the set. The set is priced at IDR 89.000 ++ and served with steamed rice. It is recommended to have the Rawon with rice, white rice is the best choice. The other elements in the set that we saw were the Sambal, Crackers, Salted Duck Egg and baby Bean Sprouts. The Rawon is a typical Indonesian dish that originated from Surabaya and it uses black nuts or buah keluak. The scientific name of Buah Keluak is Pangeum edule, fruits of kepayang tree. It is that Buah Keluak that gives strong nutty taste and black color to the soup, obviously being the main seasoning.

As in Rawon, a dish of Surabaya, Indonesia; Buah Keluak or Kepayang is also not a stranger in Malaysian Peranakan or Baba Nyonya Cuisine. We both are aware of the existence of this type of fruit. Though we are from Malaysia and we love Baba Nyonya cuisine, we actually never taste anything that has buah keluak presence in it. It was in Surabaya, Indonesia that we got the first opportunity and bravery to taste Rawon that has buah keluak presence. Our previous concern perhaps was because of the fact that the fresh fruit and seeds contain hydrogen cyanide and are deadly poisonous if consumed without prior preparation. Greater preparation is needed before it’s being infused in any cooking.

It was Renny Herwanto, the Communications Manager of Shangri-La Hotel Surabaya who managed to persuade us to try Rawon. We both looked at each other and then nodded to Renny recommendation. This is a great hotel and obviously the team in the kitchen must have made greater preparation when using Keluak in the cooking, we said to our own soul and thoughts. Surely Renny wouldn’t want us to be hospitalized, there were so many good reasons why we should proceed trying Rawon, after all we’re in Surabaya City, the birth place of Rawon, so why not try it? Fingers crossed. Within minutes, the dish brought to our table and there’s Renny looking at us, our first contact with Buah Keluak influence in a dish that we have never consume before, Rawon.


So we tasted it. It is said that Buah Keluak will make people ‘drunk’ or dizzy, as we were told in one TV documentary! So did that happen to us? No. We admit that we had so many negative perception not only to Rawon but to Buah Keluak. Another question. Was there any weird taste coming from that Buah Keluak? No, none at all. Renny Herwanto told us that Buah Keluak presence in the dish is only to give that special dark or black color. Imagine that you are eating Squid cooked using its ink or that classier Shrimp and Squid Ink Spaghetti. It’s exactly the same as having Rawon. Perhaps some people aren’t preferring Rawon for its black color but the Italian cuisine with squid ink is widely accepted. How ironic!

Overall the Rawon soup is made of ground mixture of garlic, shallot, keluak, ginger, candlenut, turmeric, red chili and salt. It is then sauteed with oil until it gets aromatic. The sauteed mixture is then poured into boiled beef stock with diced beef (with some fat!). Lemongrass, Onion, Galangal, sugar and other seasonings are then being added. What’s the taste like? To be honest, the taste was not that far when eating Beef Rib Soup, Beef Soup or in Nusantara terms, Sup Tulang/Daging. The only difference? The color. That’s all. No strange taste or getting dizzy/drunk when we consumed it. No bitter or pungent taste or whatsoever. The beef that we had were rich of fat and we love that! We had Rawon with rice and the overall taste or feel, as if we’re eating food sent from Heaven.


The Baby Bean Sprouts were fresh and blanched in hot boiling water for few seconds. No added taste and it is what it is. It’s so crunchy and best eaten in small portion with white rice and Rawon. The Salted Duck egg was all right, not that salty as suggested in its name, tasted just fine and actually went well if combined with all other elements in the Rawon Set.


The Sambal though made of chili was not that spicy and not salty either. We took a little portion of it and added it in the Rawon. It gave another different and distinct taste to the Rawon. Although we’re not sure what is the protocol when eating Rawon and its sides, we just went along according to our instinct. We detected some Terasi/Shrimp paste inside the sambal but the taste of it was not that obvious or too much. It was one fine sambal that is acceptable even for the curios and curious International Diners. One may eat the crackers by dipping it bit by bit in the Sambal.


Our Thoughts

Overall, we have fallen in love with this dish. A dish named Rawon that we previously skeptical at. A dish that most foreigners will avoid but it’s them who are so unfortunate by not having to taste the finest dish produced originally in Surabaya, Indonesia. There’s nothing wrong with the dish. The black color comes from the use of Buah Keluak. That’s all. If we haven’t agree with Renny Herwanto recommendation, we’re sure to miss sampling Rawon. We did not regret tasting it in fact we want more of it when we return to Shangri-La Hotel Surabaya, our’home’ in Surabaya city.  This particular dish deserves a perfect score 10 out of 10. Why not? It’s prepared meticulously, making it so delectable.

Curious to know more about this dish? If you are in Surabaya, head to:

Shangri-La Surabaya
JL. May. Jend. Sungkono 120
Surabaya, 60256

(62 31) 6003 8888

(62 31) 566 1570


Click HERE

Click HERE

Click HERE


The visit to Jamoo to sample Rawon was an invitation by Shangri-La Surabaya. Though we were invited, no employees from the brand give any input or influencing us in the way we wrote this article.


About Shangri-La Surabaya

(Reference: Shangri-La Hotel Surabaya website)


As Surabaya wakes to a new day, you gear up for a new adventure from the charming and enchanting Shangri-La Hotel, Surabaya.  As the only true luxury hotel in Surabaya, the warm Indonesian hospitality embraces you as soon as you enter the hotel. The lush greenery and excellent weather promise exciting rounds on the sprawling golf courses.

You waste no time and get down to it. The game is exhilarating – winning always is. It’s now time for a relaxing massage to soothe those tired muscles. At the spa, the scents of traditional Indonesian oils suffuse your  senses, lulling all aches away.

Back in your room at the exclusive Horizon Club floor, the anticipation of exploring the city below tugs at you. This is the confluence of history, where the Indonesian nationalist movement began. Today, it is an urbane cosmopolitan city. It has a Chinatown, swanky malls, and even the first Indonesian mosque built in Chinese-style architecture. You can’t cover everything in one day. But there’s no need to hurry, for time is on your side.

Night falls. With seven restaurants and bars, the choices at your disposal pose a challenge. Antipasti, hotpot and noodles, and Teppanyaki ice-cream tempt you at Jamoo restaurant. Your feet take you towards Shang Palace. Soon, fine Chinese cuisine delights your palate. Under the canopy of a darkened sky, you slip between the luxurious sheets of your bed. This is bliss, right here, at Shangri-La Hotel, Surabaya.

About Shangri-La Group

(Reference: Shangri-La Hotel Surabaya website)

Image by Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts

The Shangri-La story began in 1971 with their first deluxe hotel in Singapore. Inspired by the legendary land featured in James Hilton’s 1933 novel, Lost Horizon, the name Shangri-La encapsulates the serenity and service for which our hotels and resorts are renowned worldwide. Today, Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts is Asia Pacific’s leading luxury hotel group. Shangri-La group are also regarded as one of the world’s finest hotel ownership and management companies. Owning and/or managing over 95 hotels and resorts throughout Asia Pacific, North America, the Middle East and Europe, the Shangri-La group has a room inventory of over 40,000.  In addition, new hotels are under development in mainland China, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka.