I love food so I made a point to try out the local food I identified that is famous in each of the cities I went to. Maybe it was just me, but the food didn’t come as cheap as I imagined, even after the currency conversion 😦 But locals were paying the same amount, nevertheless. Anyway, below are some of them (do click for bigger view)! Enjoy!
Sate buntel is mutton satay covered in fat and served to enjoy together with sweet soy sauce, sliced red onion and chilies, tomatoes etc. We were lucky to have spot that shop full of patrons while getting lost on bike that we knew we just had to stop to join in. We noticed the locals were also enjoying a few other mutton-based dishes which looked really yummy, but we could never find our way back to this shop to sample them.
Nasi Liwet (left) is steamed rice served on banana leaves cooked with chicken broth along with chicken, boiled egg, tofu and I believe to be coconut milk or santan. Unfortunately, I didn’t like coconut milk and although the rice was piquant, I somewhat found this to be overrated especially when you walked into a street and there were an entire row of shops selling the same thing. Tongseng (right), on the other hands, is curry-like mutton stewed with vegetables with distinctive taste of sweetness which was appetizing. We liked it so much that we ended up ordering for it few times at different places.
While in Solo, we managed to stumble across one of the morning markets which we believed to have started as early as 7am because by the time we arrived, the crowd had mostly already dispersed with the stall owners getting ready to pack. What was new is that locals enjoyed their food by sitting on the mats prepared by the eatery stalls, as can be seen from the pictures. So did we follow? Oh hell yeah. And the noodles shown on the right pic, was exactly what everyone else was eating. The noodles couldn’t be bad so we ordered one for ourselves too!
In Semarang, we had Tahu Gimbal – fried tofu cooked with sweet and spicy shrimp paste which was served with lontong covered shrimp gravy, chilli, egg, prawn, cabbages and peanut sauce. To soothe our thirst on the hot day, we ordered coconut water served with its meat and jelly. And next to us, was a huge tent set up along the roadside which gave you a glimpse of how the locals (mostly office workers from nearby) had their daily lunch – seated next to one another (could be friends or strangers) around long table enjoying the food.One of the most fulfilling meals we had. Regretfully, we had to leave Semarang without trying the famous lumpia – spring rolls stuffed with fillings like eggs or vegetables influenced by the Chinese community settled down in Semarang in the early days.
After having enough of lontong in coconut milk (eww) in Semarang, I was ready to move on to Cirebon only to discover quite a drastic change of food in terms of how they tasted, were served and displayed in this city compared to previous two. The famous one was Nasi Jamblang (right) where a variety of dishes was readily served on table. All you needed to do was grabbed a seat then picked the dishes you wanted along with white rice and you walked away with only having to pay what you had chosen. We also decided to treat ourselves something fancier by having our lunch in a nice restaurant where the waiters brought to us all the dishes they had in plates (see bottom left). Similarly, we took whatever we fancied and they would take note of that during billing time so we just had to pay accordingly for the dishes we took. We did wonder what they were gonna do with the remaining dishes left untouched. Would they go to waste? Or would they be served to the next walk-in customers? One could easily be overwhelmed with the many choices presented, but after 3 meals, we were once again ready to leave because frankly the food simply didn’t suit our taste buds due to the blatant spiciness.
I often reiterated to friends that Malaysian fried rice and noodles were nothing compared to Indonesian. I was craving for some, so at this point I stopped trying unfamiliar local dishes by sticking to some of the most delicious nasi goreng and mee goreng. How do they do it?! How come theirs always taste better than ours hmmm.
We didn’t stay long in Jakarta, but our guide brought us to this guy who was selling kerak telor – rice mixed with duck egg and spices like dried shrimp before it was served folded. We believed it would have tasted nicer if we ate it immediately while still hot 😦