In English, this eatery is literally translated as “Ghost’s black soup.” Rawon is a Traditional East Javanese black beef soup that originated from Surabaya.  It has a strong nutty flavor, which is mainly attributed to the key ingredient- keluak/black nuts, which also gives the soup its characteristically black color. Many will second themselves to take a spoonful of this soup when they are served one. However, since I grew up eating this, a bowl of rawon always reminds me of my childhood favorite meal after a tiring day at school. Now, I know many of you must be wondering why they name themselves “Ghost’s black soup.” Well when they first started this eatery, they only open at 10pm onwards. Many joked that they open so late that the only visitors they would get were ghosts who only appear at this ungodly hours. On the contrary, many visited this restaurant since it opened in 1957.  These customers included young and old, locals and tourists alike. They are so popular that they now open for dinner hours. I still applaud their enthusiasm in keeping and embracing its original name. With a gory type and blood red fonts, I am not surprised that passerby will be intrigued to drop by even to satisfy their curiosity.

A bowl of rawon with rice on the side (IDR 24,000)

Typically, rawon is accompanied by baby sprouts, salted eggs, sambal, white rice and prawn crackers. The thing I like most about Rawon Setan’s rawon is the generous cube-sized beef brisket that has been cooked over night. This result in moist beef, attached to the semi-translucent, intertwined cartilage and fat, making the overall so tender it melts in your mouth. And don’t get me started on the broth. It is so rich and flavorful that you can never resist dunking rice or prawn crackers into them.

An assortment of crackers

This is one of the places that I go solely for the food. The ambiance is almost close to none if you are a local but may be intriguing for westerners who never dined in a warung before.  A small bowl of rawon cost IDR 24,000 while a bowl of rawon with rice inside the broth cost IDR 14,000 (Maybe they put less beef in the latter?) Since I am a local, I would not spend so much on a bowl of rawon that my cook at home can whip up with ease. But for tourists out there, eating at this eatery is a must if you are visiting Surabaya for its gastronomic delights.
Food: 3/5 Ambiance: 1/5 Service: 1/5 Price: $
Rawon Setan  Jl. Embong Malang, across JW Mariott Hotel Opens: Sun-Tues (7:30am-22:00pm), Wed-Sat (7:30am-3:30am)