After visiting Toko Oen I did some desk research and read up on the history of Toko Oen and basically it turned out that most links to the original restaurant had been severed already.
The history of Toko Oen in a nutshell as far as I understand…
Mrs. Liem Gien Nio, who was called “Oma Oen”, founded the “Oen” restaurant chain in the early 20th century. The word “oma” is an informal and lovable Dutch term for grandmother. Her first pastry shop was opened in Yogyakarta under the name of Toko “OEN”. Over time, the shop expanded its main establishment by adding a restaurant as well as an ice cream parlour. In 1934, a branch restaurant was opened in Jakarta and in Malang too. The Jakarta branch restaurant closed in 1963, while the Malang one was taken over by new owners and to this day still functions as an “Oen” restaurant despite the lack of permission from the patent holder.
That said, I would say the only reason to visit this overrated place is to get a sense of history.
Our experience here was quite disappointing to say the least.
We arrived here after visiting the Wonosari Tea Plantation. And after searching for an empty table, which was quite difficult as the place was packed with local and international visitors, we finally got the chance to order something. The bad service is evident from the start as they were severely understaffed. I think there were only three waiters working at the time we arrived while the restaurant was very busy and completely filled up. Forget about being escorted to a seat or table as it basically was “every man for himself”. People were waiting next to tables were customers were still eating. That is just quite unprofessional and very chaotic.
Due to the crowds and busy times at Toko Oen, I was actually fairly surprised how fast our food was brought out. We had ordered some croquettes (Dutch: kroketten), which is a classic Dutch treat, and which I usually love. These, however, were horrible. They were cold fried snacks that were stuffed with unseasoned mashed potato and served with mustard that wasn’t mustard at all. It looked like slime and tasted like sweet custard. It was really bad. The oxtail soup we ordered was also not very tasty. Finally, we also ordered one of their famous ice creams, the classic banana split. Again, this was a very disappointing meal and it surprised me how they could mess up such a simple ice cream dessert. The ice cream was not smooth at all and was filled with ice crystals. And the whipped cream on top was way too heavy and not sweet. After finishing the meals, we instantly realized that this restaurant now only relies on their brand and name and not their food.
All in all, Toko Oen was a huge letdown. The food and ice cream that we ordered was quite tasteless and disappointing. And I was quite surprised by the terrible quality of it all, including the service. It’s really disappointing, because many people will visit Toko Oen on the basis of the name and its history. Which is kind of undeserved. With a better menu it could become so much more. I would suggest skipping this place and visit a restaurant that serves the delicious bakso bakar Malang instead.