Published: November 9th 2009October 27th 2009
Take your pick. Sop Buntut? Nasi Goreng? Gudeg? Soto Ayam? Ayam Goreng?
What to eat in Indonesia? Long before we arrived here, we have been familiar with the world-famous Nasi Goreng and Sate Babi. Fried rice and barbecue to most. And then there's the famous sambal that goes with almost anything edible here. There are many places we tried, from high-end to the daily fare , and thought we should do a separate blog on what else, but FOOD!
A trip to Ubud's rice paddies, art galleries and handicraft shops would not be complete without sampling the very famous, original Bebek Bengil
. Those who have been reading my blogs would have guessed by now that between shopping and dining, the second option is my preferred activity.
So, here's my non-food expert's take on Indonesian food.
The literal translation is dirty duck
but don't let that discourage you. There is a special marinade used for this duck dish, which involves marinating, steaming and deep frying. Our tour guide and driver brought us here when we insisted that we wanted to try this dish from the original Bebek Bengil restaurant. When pressed, these guys can only talk about it but can't volunteer more
Bebek Bengil or Dirty Duck
A tad dry, but tastes really good. First marinated, steamed, and then fried. This is the original diner where they first served the dirty duck.
information beyond that the dish is famous in this part of Ubud. Our guide Diwa and driver Dede (pronounced Didi) finally admitted that they have not in fact tried the dish as they cannot afford it , but swear that they have heard so many say it is one dish not to be missed here.
We invited them to join us for lunch......but they insisted on sitting at a separate table. We made sure they ordered the Bebek Bengil lunch just like we did........plus a lot more. ;-) Well, after that climbing up and down at the Gunung Kawi and Tegalallang Rice Terraces, we felt we deserve a truly good lunch. (Excuses, excuses......) The photos would show we ordered much more than just the dirty duck. There is also a fish dish lathered in so much sambal that we couldn't eat it without coughing and drinking a glassful of water after each morsel. And there is the Nasi Goreng and Nasi Camphor. Both came with the usual krupuk , or prawn crackers which we have come to love here in Indonesia. They even have this side dish made of pickled onions which Diwa claims is another "secret" condiment.
Fish With Rice and Sweet Potatoes
The fish is slathered with sambal , while the rice had sweet potatoes mixed in. Quite spicy for our taste. Served in Bebek Bengil Diner, Ubud.
The duck was very tasty although I found it a tad dry. We heard the duck steak is good too, but we learned that only after this visit. Too bad.
I took the chance to order my Balinese coffee here to go with the Russian pie we ordered. I dismissed the coffee from the first sip, and swooned over the Russian pie. Super Yummy!!!!
If you care for real fine-dining in Jakarta, this is the one you must look for. Bungarampai
is in Old Batavia area in Menteng, Jakarta. After all the traffic in Jakarta's city center, it would be ideal to end the day in style in this fine restaurant. Dining here was surely a treat!
While waiting for my friend Beth's youngest brother, Reynold, I ordered a ginger tea which is claimed to be a very Indonesian drink. What was brought to me was tea alright, but served in a soup bowl. The physical presentation disturbed my taste buds, as I couldn't tell if I was having tea or soup. Nevertheless, it must be a good Indonesian concoction as i promptly burped soon after finishing a
We tried the grilled prawns, the nasi goreng, sate babi and sate ayam, fried garoupa and some vegetable dish.
bowl. That, thankfully, got me all ready for the next order of the day........dinner. With Reynold around, we trusted him with the dinner choices and waited eagerly.
We were not disappointed. Reynold ordered the signature Sate Bungarampai. This is a dish consisting of 4 skewers of beef, chicken, prawns and fish. Then there is the Kerapu Goreng which is simply fried garoupa served with the traditional Javanese sauce. This one was both a feast to the eyes and the taste buds.
To cap it all, we thoroughly enjoyed the non-traditional, very Western dessert we ordered. Chocolate souffle with vanilla ice cream. This we enjoyed while watching a Balinese dance performance. Reynold must have paid a hefty sum for this fine dining experience (to celebrate my birthday, he says) --- the food, the ambience within this very Dutch colonial house, the lovely china and crystals, what can I say? Thank you, Reynold!
Suharti's Ayam Goreng in Yogyakarta
If I were to rate our driver cum local guide in Yogyakarta, I would give Bellongg extra points for letting us sample Yogyakarta's famous Suharti's Ayam Goreng
means chicken and Goreng
Fried Garoupa With Sambal
Who can resist this? Truly yummy.... My fav in bungarampai.
fried. So now you know that Nasi Goreng
can only mean fried rice. Nasi
means rice in Indonesia. I am writing this because I strongly feel that Suharti should not gain fame just for its fried chicken , but also for its fried rice or Nasi Goreng. We have been ordering Nasi Goreng all over Indonesia and found that the best is the one from this landmark restaurant in Yogyakarta. (Btw, we soon found out that locals bring boxes and boxes of Suharti Ayam Goreng when flying out of Yogyakarta. Just imagine the domestic airport terminal with a queue of locals lugging boxes of this stuff. Also, we learned that Suharti has a branch in Jakarta too!)
The original Suharti restaurant here in Yogyakarta is so unassuming, sans frills, sans fancy ads and decor. One can sense how confident they are about their specialty dish. It is also cheap! Since my friend Elizabeth opted to stay in and skip the Ramayana ballet one night in Yogya, we brought the Ayam Goreng, Nasi Goreng and a vegetable dish -- all good for 3 persons -- back to our lovely Phoenix Hotel and enjoyed a wonderful dinner for less than Rp130,000 (about
Seafood Buffet on Friday Nights
Looking really fresh.......at the Phoenix Hotel.
US$13) or about US $4 per person. Could be less since the entire dinner could have been good for 4 persons. [
Gudeg , Anyone?
Many articles and blogs claim that when in Yogyakarta, no one should miss trying Gudeg. We tried ours in a restaurant in Yogya whose name I can't recall. What I remember is that they serve a luncheon buffet in this place which used to be a palace for one of the sultans and that the high-ceilinged open-air structure is a venue for some cultural shows. At the time we were there, there was a 4 or 5man musical band using traditional instruments. Not a bad place to try our Gudeg.
This very traditional Jogja food ( some call it Gudeg Jogja) has a very specific taste. Gudeg itself is made of young jackfruit. Additional ingredients are thrown in, such as chicken, tofu and egg. One eats it in combination with warm rice, and the spicy sambal krecek. At the airport terminal flying out of Yogyakarta, we found that locals normally buy gudeg jogja packed in a special gift box, some even in plaited bamboo basket or a special
Fish Curry at Paprika
Chunks of fish stewed in yellow curry. I wish I took a better photograph--this one doesn't do the dish justice. Served at Phoenix Hotel's Paprika. Yogyakarta
pot. One thing I know for sure is that Gudeg will never be a reason for me to go back to Yogyakarta. Maybe it is an acquired taste.
Phoenix Hotel's Restaurant Serves the Best Fish Curry
We have tried this very good fish curry in the hotel's restaurant and our taste buds will never forget it! Garoupa slices stewed in curry ---- sorry, I forgot how it is called in Bahasa Indonesian. But check out the photo and when you get the chance, sample it. Better still, stay in the same hotel. We loved it there.
Their own version of the Nasi Goreng looks and tastes good too. In looks, it wins hands down. In taste, I would still vote for Suharti's Nasi Goreng. But the photo does it justice, don't you think? For sure, my friend Emy enjoyed her nasi goreng. The dish was a good introduction to Indonesian cuisine. And that explains why we ordered nasi goreng all around Indonesia.
On our first night in Bali, we drove past Kuta and had our first dinner in Jimbaran. Here, one finds many restaurants lining the shore
Mainly seafood .... eaten while enjoying the seabreeze, fireworks and some cultural show.
, lighted only by torches , each with its own little stage where diners can watch some sort of cultural show. Most Indonesian performers danced the berong
and most performers are children and young adults.
We ordered grilled seafood and some salad to go with my cold Bintang beer. There were fireworks and it was pleasant to feel the breeze and watch the fireworks while dining by the shore. But the food was lousy, to say the least. It also didn't help that we were busy minding the flies which seem to have fallen in love with our sambal side dish and other seafood. My advice? Forget Jimbaran. It is not worth the trip.
Alam Sutera (Bandar Jakarta)
Before leaving Jakarta, we drove a good half hour or so to this place where we first have to "shop" in its Pasar Ikan or fish market. There were live crabs, prawns, giant scallops, mussels, clams, and various fish. We couldn't resist ordering coconuts on this hot day while waiting for our shopped goodies to get cooked. Two kinds of fish were grilled and served with sambal. (Boy, these Indonesians really love their sambal) The
Birthday Lunch in Jakarta
And this is where we enjoyed that seafood lunch in Bander Jakarta!
scallops were cooked in butter and garlic --- a big disappointment, having seen them live , only for the garlics and butter to blunt its fresh taste. There was also kangkung........a local spinach much like what we have back home. The shrimps were steamed to perfection and we enjoyed its fresh taste. And there were oysters. That was a truly filling lunch we had. The only problem was that we had a number of uninvited guests (flies) who wanted to share the food with us. The other problem was getting up after that heavy lunch, after a good hour in a squat position around this low table inside one of the huts.
Just had to say something about airline food
We flew Garuda from Jakarta to Yogyakarta to Bali , then back to Jakarta. All 3 flights were timed either for breakfast, lunch or dinner. So you can say we have tried all 3 meals on this airline.
Years ago, I flew via Garuda and didn't have much to say about it. Times have changed. And for the better. Service was good. Food even better. Elizabeth, Emy and myself all enjoyed our
Alam Sutera in Jakarta
You pick out the seafood you like and then decide how you want it cooked.
meals on all 3 flights. Either chicken or fish, noddles or nasi (rice), with some condiments on the side. On way to Yogya, we were served breakfast around 8am. From Yogya to Bali, we had lunch. Then from Bali back to Jakarta , we were served a light dinner at 6:30pm. Light enough to have a second dinner of Sop Buntut when we got back to Jakarta. Well, it was our last dinner here in Indonesia......so why not? While we enjoyed the sights here in Indonesia, you can say we also enjoyed the local cuisine. Our bags on our way home had some of those krupuc packed inside. Too bad we can't bring one dirty duck or a box of Suharti ayam goreng (fried chicken).
There are more photos below