The things on the inside

15 Dec

It’s hard to call it secret – there are flags attached to lamp posts announcing its arrival. Everyone knows where it is – I even overheard two people talking about it in a store – and they were speaking Indonesian. That said, it did take me a while to locate the self-styled “Shanghai bistro and bubble tea bar” tucked into a corner of the entertainment level of the mall.


The real ‘secret’ is the food. More specifically the “sheng jian bao” or soup dumpling. And it’s all about the things inside. My server insisted I try the house special dumpling – something for which I deeply, deeply thank him wherever he is. Imagine a pristine white dumpling, with a delicate twist at the top and a crispy pan-fried base. And then he handed me the spoon … “for soup” he said. The first bite made it clear. Delicate morsels of chicken and prawn, lightly seasoned, and surrounded by amazing soup. Yes, liquid soup. Inside the dumpling. Piping hot and delicious.

I have no idea how they do it. How they get solid chicken and prawns, and liquid soup inside a dumpling. There’s probably a video on YouTube, but frankly, I don’t care. As long as they keep making them, it really doesn’t matter.

It also made me think about how sometimes it’s the things on the inside that you really enjoy. Once you peel back the layers (or take a bite) it’s possible to find secret, amazing, inspiring things. Sometimes in other people, sometimes in circumstances, sometimes in places. It’s a bit like how I feel about Jakarta. I’m peeling back the layers slowly, learning more words, going to new places, understanding the “why” that sits inside what’s observable. And the things inside are sometimes amazing.


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