A traveler does not fall in love with every destination, but sometimes somewhere stands out and the traveler becomes connected to it in a special, magnetic kind of way. This connection can be educational, spiritual, relational, or even gastronomical. Often, it’s nostalgic and travelers will return to a special place to remember who they were when they were there. I liked Yogyakarta, Indonesia but I did not feel connected to it until I discovered a quaint little dessert shop called Minke.
I will admit that I was originally drawn to Minke for its excellent wifi (a great perk for travelers), but I returned again and again for its innovative red bean desserts and patbingsus, atmospheric music selections, and exceptionally hospitable staff. I spent many nights there, grinning ear-to-ear when Minke would play song after song that I loved. Their music became the soundtrack to my memories and always kept my shazam app busy.
Minke’s innovative desserts include shaved ice, milk, cornflakes, ice cream, various jellies, fruit, and of course, red bean. Red bean is sweet, but not too sweet, and has a delightfully soft yet substantial texture. As far as I know Minke is the only place in Indonesia that specializes in red bean desserts.
As a former food columnist in China, I can readily appreciate the subtleties of the unusually healthy red bean as an ingredient in desserts. I was less prepared to encounter cornflakes and ice in the same desserts, but I was very pleasantly surprised by how well the ingredients complimented each other.
My love affair with Minke’s desserts began with Minke’s patbingsu, continued with an occasional Matcha crepe with red bean, and then became eternal thanks to this incredible mango delicacy which they added to the menu.
All of this was enough to bring me back to Minke, but Minke’s staff including its four owners Adam, Jati, Krishna, and Harris proved to be the real reason to go. I had only exchanged pleasantries with Minke’s staff until one night when a little grey and black tabby kitten refused to leave me alone at a bus stop on Malioboro Street.
Like in many developing countries, Indonesia has its share of stray dogs and cats on its streets. I resisted the urge to claim any of these animals with the knowledge that I definitely could not keep them. Then, I watched as a bus stop attendant repeatedly attempted to push a tabby kitten out of the bus stop with a broom. People yelled at it and attempted to scare it away, but it was persistent. Finally, taking its persistence as a sign that I should intervene, I said courageously yet falsely “Saya mau ini kucing!” (I want this cat!)
The truth was that I did not want the kitten at all. I don’t even tend to like cats, but I could not stand seeing it mistreated. I was sure that my Ibu would not allow me to keep it overnight, so my mind raced as I tried to think of solutions and even considered fashioning some kind of rope basket to lift it into my room via the balcony. I spoke to it and told it to look as cute as possible as we approached diners at street stalls, and I pleaded with them to take it.
“Saya tidak bisa punya ini kucing (I can’t have this cat),” I would say. Desperately, I would add, “Ini Kuching sangat, sangat manis. Dia suka anda!” (This cat is very, very sweet. He likes you!)
Everyone had declined as I neared my home stay. Defeated, I approached Minke as my last hope. I handed Krishna the cat and repeated my rehearsed spiel. To my great relief, Krishna answered my pathetic Indonesian entreaties in English and agreed to help.
Krishna created an excellent online ad for the kitten, but the energetic and fidgety little creature slipped out the back of Minke to our collective disappointment. The silver lining to the story was that I learned how wonderful Minke’s staff is and we became friends. Adam was even nice enough to give me and my friend Anna a ride to the airport when our program didn’t come through for us.
I was sad to leave Minke, but I am pleased that I can return and stay connected with them on Facebook (Minke Dessert Bar), Twitter (@MinkeExperience), and Instagram (MinkeExperience) until my return. Please connect with Minke yourself and stop by to visit at Jl Gambir 142A Karanggayam Depok Sleman if you ever find yourself in Yogyakarta.
I recommend ordering a patbingsu (or anything on the menu for that matter) and listening for Don Mclean’s “American Pie” which Adam said he would add to Minke’s playlist after hearing me and my USINDO friends piece it together from memory at our goodbye party. You can also congratulate Minke on its first year anniversary which it celebrated in late October.
If you see a grey tabby in Deresan neighborhood, feel free to take it home and give it a good life.