An Unforgettable Lunch at Aquatic Restaurant.
I had this rare opportunity when I made a trip together with my family to Pamijahan, a small town in West Java province around 90 km away from Bandung, the capital of the province. Pamijahan means a Breeding Place, is a name after the town's well known reputation as a breeding place for fish. This specific condition makes most local people there breed fish at their own ponds around the house yard as family income.
The restaurant we visited was not a five-star restaurant but a traditional one instead, I didn't even find the name of the restaurant. I call it an aquatic restaurant because the restaurant is built above a big pond which is divided into some segregated fish tanks. In those tanks the owner keeps various kinds of consumption fish which are served at the restaurant.
The aquatic restaurant consists of a clusters of gazebo-like constructions made of bamboo. One gazebo had more than one dining table where restaurant customers enjoy their foods. To get the gazebo we have to go down the bamboo paths and carefully watched our steps to prevent us from slipping and plunging into the pond water. We saw a lot of fish below us which were mostly gold fish (Cyprinus carpio), freshwater pomfret (Colossoma macropomum), and gourami (Oshpronemus gouramy), with their gasping mouths and sometimes made splashes on the surface.
One of the special menus of the restaurant was grilled fish. Grilled fish was actually not something new for us, but of course different food preparation plus exotic atmosphere with aquatic surrounding around us would gave different sensation to the food. We didn't ask too many questions about the menu since we were all hungry and wanted to order their specialty right away. We ordered 4 grilled gold fish with ground chilly paste on the pestles and warm tea as the drink.
We didn't have to order the rice since there was an electric rice cooker (here people colloquially call it Magic Jar) provided at every gazebo.
To make the menu went well with the traditional ambiance they also listed young coconut as the companion drink but we didn't order it considering that we didn't want to be too full to continue the trip.
We could witness them catch the fish of our orders from one of the ponds using a fish net. The size of the fish caught was chosen based on the customer's order since its price was determined with reference to its weight too.
Then the floundering fish was brought to the kitchen for weeding out and cleaning. In the preparation process the fish was also soaked in spices before it was given the next treatment : grilling.
I could see billowing smokes and smell the tempting aroma from the fish being grilled which was all done by men. They also pasted more spices to the fish to make sure that the spices were absorbed into the fish flesh.
One effective technique in their marketing that smokes from the grilling kitchen were deliberately let go out with the breezes in order to be sniffed by passers-by to get them attracted visiting and dining at the restaurant.
We enjoyed the atmosphere very much while we were eating. The breeze, the ground chilly sambal (local name for ground chilly sauce) together with complimentary fresh, raw vegetables plus the warm, fluffy and fresh rice we directly help ourselves from the rice cooker, not to mention the aroma of the freshly grilled fish, all combined together in increasing our appetite.
For the rice, we could eat it to our heart contents since it was always available in the rice cooker near us, so we didn't have to bother the waiters when we needed more rice.
Another benefit of having meals at Sundanese (referring to people living in West Java) restaurant that they always provide their customers with complimentary unlimited warm tea.
What made it very efficient, there were no leftovers wasted at the restaurant since the gasping fish below us were ready to eat the remnants.
A restaurant with environmental wisdom.
Through the modest way in its construction but it proves in efficiency in applying environmental wisdom. Food and fish leftovers as well as vegetable remnants which are always found quite much have never been wasted since the fish in those ponds are always ready to eat up them. The restaurant waiters and waitress have the instructions to do so, although for safety reason, they have to put aside the fish bones before plunging them into the ponds. While for the customers, putting their food into the ponds is another entertainment while they are enjoying their dishes.
The result can be seen in those ponds !. Those fish look grow very well in term of sizes without excess supply of artificial pellets since the leftovers given to them have enough supply of nutrients.
What an efficient and environmentally wise restaurant !.
We continued our trip with lots of contented feeling for, not only me but also my family, had the same judgment about the restaurant: it served good tasty food with very reasonable price. We all agreed to stopover at the restaurant again on our return trip to Jakarta.