Famous for its diversity that spreads across the thousands of islands in its archipelago, Indonesia is rich in cultural heritage from many different ethnicities and regions.
This is shown in many things: fabrics, houses, religious festivals and even food. Yes, nothing can beat Indonesian foods that originate from all across the country.
Bali & Beyond now takes you along as we sample traditional cuisine from three regions, West Java, Central Java and Sulawesi, without ever leaving the island of Bali. Each region has its own characteristics when it comes to food, and by trying it you’ll understand by what we mean about the diversity. It’s always fun to have a palate jaunt, and like many other have people said, you will never really travel until you try the local food.
Bale Udang Mang Engking
You can instantly feel the West Java village atmosphere once you enter this restaurant. Distinctive interior design of bamboo huts with thatched roofs and a large fishpond beneath the huts, along with the accompanying traditional music can make you feel like you are entering another area of Indonesia. Bale Udang Mang Engking is the right place to have a ‘quick escape’ into the traditional world without traveling very far away from the heart of the town.
This restaurant has two areas available: one with regular seating in a semi open-air room, and the other in the huts above the fishpond. There are three large huts that can accommodate up to 20 people, and nine medium huts that can accommodate up to 9 people suitable if you come with family or colleagues. But to get the seating in these huts is quite difficult, as this place is always packed especially in the evening. Advance reservations are recommended to avoid the queue of people waiting. This place is in high demand!
The food itself is quite savory. Don’t miss the traditional Sundanese foods: gurame bumbu cobek (carp fish with chili and other spices), stir-fried kangkung (water spinach), and karedok (raw vegetable salad such as bean sprouts, cabbage, chickpea, dressing in peanut sauce). Not only serving fish, they also serve crab, squid and shrimp; all fresh every day from the Jimbaran fish market. Don’t forget to ask for lalapan (raw vegetables like lettuce and cucumber) and sambal terasi (chili mixed with shrimp paste) if you want to challenge yourself with higher level of spicy hotness.
For many years the Mang Engking restaurant has been renowned for its Sundanese dishes, but after merging with Bale Udang they have focused more on shrimp dishes as their signature, though they still preserve their Sundanese tradition. And that is perceivable because their mainstay, the honey grilled shrimp is indeed very tasty. If you come with your family and friends, you can try the ‘Hurang Ageung’ that contains a variety of their signature prawn dishes in a large bowl.
Slightly hidden on Jalan Petitenget across the street from Warung Eropa, this place serves cuisine from cities on Sulawesi Island such as Makassar and Manado. This small restaurant offers a homey atmosphere in an open garden, much like your own backyard with shade trees and gentle breezes. If you opt for more privacy, there are more private rooms inside that make you feel like you’re in your own living room at home.
Almost all the food is rich with distinctive spices. Try Woku Basa fish, Pallumara fish, Rica-Rica squid (squid with spices), or Rica-Rica chicken. You can choose brown rice, yellow rice or white rice, and don’t forget to ask for the famous Sambal Dabu-Dabu (typical Sulawesi sambal, mix of red pepper, tomato, onion and olive oil), or their own creation of a traditional sambal of Sulawesi (mix of red and green chilies). Although the food is quite spicy and hot, there are many foreigners that come to this place. This proves that the food is quite ‘friendly’ when it comes to hot and spicy. Don’t forget to order Es Pisang Ijo (Green Banana Ice) or Pallu Butung Ice as dessert. Both are made from bananas covered with flour, coconut milk, pandan paste and sweet syrup. So refreshing!
Gudeg (made from young jackfruit curry, with coconut milk and palm sugar) is widely known as a traditional food from Yogyakarta, but not this one. Renowned for its gudeg, this place actually serves traditional food from Solo. The difference between Solo and Yogyakarta gudeg is the taste. The Solo variety usually tastes less sweet, as they use different kind of jackfruit and palm sugar. But here they don’t only serve gudeg, they also offer other traditional foods such as liwet rice (savory rice cooked with coconut, served with squash and shredded chicken), nasi tumpang (rice served with sambal tumpang, which is mixture of chilli and stale soybean), Pecel (fresh vegetables such as spinach, bean sprout, dressing in peanut sauce), Gado-Gado (another fresh vegetables mix in peanut sauce similar to pecel, but this one uses many other ingredients like egg, baked potato, corn, tomato, sprinkled with fried onions), Selat (beef in vegetable soup), Asem-asem ceker (chicken feet with tamarind soup), and ketan bubuk (sticky rice with coconut milk). There are also refreshing delicacies such as wedang ronde (hot drink made from glutinous rice flour, ginger, lemon grass and peanut), beras kencur (medicine drink made from turmeric) and bubur lemu (a kind of porridge, made from rice flour and pandan paste, smeared with coconut milk and brown sugar). The place opens in the morning, but it starts to really get packed in the evening when they extend the place into the yard and bring out additional chairs with tents set up outside.
BALE UDANG MANG ENGKING
Jl. Nakula 88, (0361) 882-2000
Jalan Petitenget, (0361) 746-3052
Jl. Imam Bonjol 57b
Pertokoan Alfa Beta Blok A12
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Posted by » Bali and Beyond Magazine