Food & Cuisine in Indonesia
A new sophistication has crept into the food scene in Indonesia. A number of factors have contributed to this, especially the constant influx of international chefs who have demanded better access to quality and fresh ingredients, and the growing opportunities for Indonesians to travel abroad. The increase in local knowledge of international standards and tastes and the growing number of importers and local growers have also influenced the availability of specialist products. Indonesia's growing number of luxury and boutique hotels are still a good place to look for an outstanding meal.
Indonesians like their food highly spiced and the visitor should always bear this in mind. In particular look out for the tiny, fiery hot, red and green peppers often included in salads and vegetable dishes.
Below we have tried to give some insight into eating out in Indonesia. So, after some Indonesia shopping, relax in beautiful surroundings and taste a variety of dishes from the Indonesia restaurant of your choice. You can also check out the restaurant scene of Komodo, Manado, Aceh, and Makassar & Toraja.
Food & Cuisine in Indonesia
Today, there are plenty of International standards restaurants, with an eclectic array of menus of International cuisine, Indonesian or just Balinese dishes. You will pay more, but you are guaranteed fresh, good food that has been prepared in hygienic kitchens. Some are better than others, so check around for the best restaurants in Indonesia.
The staple diet for most Indonesians is rice (nasi), which is replaced on some islands with corn, sago, cassava and sweet potatoes. Rice dishes include nais campur, nasi uduk and rasirames. Indonesia's spices make its local cuisine unique. Specialities include: rijstafel (a Dutch concoction consisting of a variety of meats, fish, vegetables and curries), sate (chunks of beef, fish, pork, chicken or lamb cooked on hot coals and dipped in peanut sauce).
Almost every type of international cuisine is available in major cities, the most popular being Chinese, French, Italian, Japanese and Korean. Some classic examples are: sate ajam (broiled, skewered marinated chicken), ajam ungkap (Central Java; deep-fried, marinated chicken), sate lileh (Bali; broiled, skewered fish sticks), ikan acar kuning (Jakarta; lightly marinated fried fish served in a sauce of pickled spices and palm sugar), soto (a soup dish with dumpling, chicken and vegetables), gado-gado (Java; a salad of raw and cooked vegetables with peanut and coconut milk sauce), babi guling (Bali; roast suckling pig) and opor ajam (boiled chicken in coconut milk and light spices).
Seafood is excellent and features highly on menus everywhere (also available are salt and fresh-water fish, lobsters, oysters, prawns, shrimp, squid and shark). Coconuts, which are found everywhere, are often used for cooking. Vegetables and fresh fruit, such as bananas, papaya, pineapple and oranges, are available throughout the year. Some tropical fruits such as mango, watermelon and papaya are seasonal.
A feature of Indonesia are the many warungs (street stalls), each specialising in its own dish or drink, but travellers are probably best advised not to try them without the advice of an Indonesian resident. There are restaurants in the hotels, which, along with many others, serve European, Chinese and Indian food.
Indonesia is a major producer and exporter of coffee and tea, which are available on almost every street corner. Bali produces a delicious rice wine called brem while in Tana Toraja (southern Sulawesi); visitors may wish to sample a Tuak, a famously potent local brew. Local pilsner beer is also available. Have a good time sampling some of the local delicacies, and you will be assured of a truly Indonesian foodie experience!