For travelers exploring Taman Sari in Yogyakarta, there’s a unique café that transports them back to Jogja’s bygone era. It’s called the Water Castle Cafe, situated on Polowijan Street, Patehan, Kraton District, Yogyakarta. The café derives its name from its location within the Water Castle area, also known as Taman Sari.
A Journey from a Simple Home to a Charming Cafe
The Water Castle Cafe has been around for approximately 25 years and has a fascinating history. It started as an ordinary house, transformed into a batik gallery, and eventually found its current identity as a cafe.
Kompi Setyoko, the café’s owner, explains its evolution: “Initially, we operated it as a batik gallery because this area is known for its Batik Gallery Village. However, I decided to open a café here because there wasn’t one that allowed foreigners to sit and relax while enjoying the ambiance.”
A Hidden Gem Loved by International Tourists
Although somewhat tucked away amidst residential areas and narrow streets, the café has garnered a reputation, especially among foreign tourists. Most visitors, primarily from Europe, drop by for lunch.
“We usually experience a rush during lunchtime, but in the evenings, it becomes tranquil, and we close early. We handle everything ourselves, and we operate somewhat like a semi-home,” Kompi adds.
The café may not boast a massive structure, but stepping inside imparts the feeling of entering a comfortable home adorned with vintage-style furnishings and décor inspired by Jogja.
From paintings to furniture and photographs, the cafe displays a collection that mirrors the owner’s personal passion for vintage items. The walls elegantly showcase the owner’s analog photography, neatly arranged for patrons to admire.
Kompi Setyoko also frequently engages in batik painting, using the artwork to decorate his cafe. On occasion, he organizes kite painting contests involving local children, and the resulting artwork adorns the café’s ceiling. This serves as both a memento and an educational art display.
A Culinary Journey at Water Castle Cafe
Water Castle Cafe offers a diverse menu, including various juices, teas, hearty meals such as fried rice and fried noodles, pancakes, and its signature dish, Nasi Campur (Mixed Rice). Prices range from $1 to $3 USD.
Nasi Campur is a flavorful dish comprising rice served with chicken pieces and an assortment of fruits and vegetables like broccoli, baby corn, carrots, tomatoes, pineapples, string beans, and mango. This dish delivers a refreshing combination of flavors, with the fruits imparting a burst of freshness, complemented by a delightful blend of sweet and tangy tastes.
A Nostalgic Retreat in Yogyakarta
Water Castle Cafe isn’t just a place to savor delicious food and beverages; it offers a journey back in time, providing insights into Yogyakarta’s rich cultural heritage. Whether you’re a traveler seeking a unique experience or a local resident relishing nostalgia, this café is a hidden gem worth discovering.