The capital of west Java, Bandung, is the country’s fourth largest city, also nicknamed as the Paris of Java. It is often regarded as an ultimate getaway destination by residents from its neighbouring towns- especially the capital of Jakarta, who floods the place on weekends for good street food and the cooler weather (not so cool when the masses arrive in their environment-eating cars).
The culinary scene in Bandung is diverse, from downtown to its Chinatown, there are endless choices of street food. These street food carts or stalls offer simple dishes in a humble setting, transforming fresh local produce into comforting dishes with rich and bold flavours.
A trip to Indonesia is never complete without trying their satay. At Sate Hadorie (Jalan Kebon Jati, Tel: +62 22 4232 312), mutton is grilled with just a tad bit of sweet soya sauce to go with the perfectly charred juicy meat.
The secret of Hadorie’s juicy satay, however, is the fresh mutton that is sliced on the spot, skewered, and grilled. From the outside, the eatery may look like a butchery house with legs of lamb hanging by the window.
Another popular satay stall is Sate Pak Rachmat (Jalan Gatot Subroto 32, Tel: +62 22 7318 762). At Sate Pak Rachmat, juicy chunks of chicken meat, liver, intestine and even chicken blood cubes are made into skewers, brushed with sweet soya sauce and grilled to create that nice caramelized char. The peanut sauce that comes with it has a consistency of peanut butter. Together, they make a heavenly combination.
Bandung is known to produce very good quality tofu, which is credited to the local water source. A signature tofu-based dish of Bandung is Kupat Tahu. It’s a simple dish made of rice cake, turmeric tinted tofu, bean sprouts, pink tapioca crackers and doused with supremely creamy and gently spicy peanut sauce. Try this one from Kupat Tahu Gempol (Jalan Gempol Kulon, Tel: +62 22 4260 809).
Bandung population consists largely of Sundanese, who favour spicy and salty food. A traditional Sundanese fare consists of Nasi Timbel (rice steamed in banana leaves) with side dishes like Combro (fermented soya bean cake), assorted fritters and a side of Lalap (mixed fresh and steamed vegetables with a side of sambal). One of the most popular eateries selling traditional Sundanese fare is Warung Nasi Mak Eha (Jalan Riau, Cihapit Market).
At Rumah Surabi Imut (Jalan Setiabudi 146, Tel: +62 22 7129 1716), Surabi (mini rice pancakes) are still made traditionally over clay pan and charcoal fire.
These Surabi (rice pancakes) come with 54 variations of toppings, you can have it sweet with bananas, vanilla, durian; or savoury with egg and cheese. The pancake is fluffy inside, with a nice crispy char on the edges. A local favourite snack item.
Many of the street stalls operate communal style, with pots of readily cooked food and a simple table and chair setting. Here diners are enjoying a set of nasi kuning (turmeric rice) at Nasi Kuning Pak Endi (Jalan Terusan Pasir Koja 102)
Nasi kuning (turmeric rice) comes with assorted side dishes, such as Gulai Jengkol (dogfruit with mild coconut curry sauce), Sambal Tahu (stiry fry tofu and tempeh (fermented soya bean cake) with fermented bean sauce and chilli) and some roasted peanuts for crunch.
Another Bandung signature street food is Baso Tahu – usually a mix of steamed tofu or potato stuffed with minced fish and served with sweet soya sauce, peanut sauce and lots of sambal. This one is Sin Sien Hin (Jalan Cibadak 171, Tel: +62 22 5223 968), located at the heart of their Chinatown.
Warm dessert is a hit in Bandung, especially during chilly nights. Ronde Jahe (glutinous rice balls with peanuts filling served in ginger soup) is a local favourite. Bottled ginger juice is supplied on the table for those who’d like more oomph! Such as this from Ronde Jahe Alkateri (Jalan Alkateri, Tel: +62 22 4235 067).
All listings mentioned are extracted from Makansutra Indonesia 2013. The latest food guide covers three major cities, including Jakarta, Bandung and Bali. Available at major bookstores now ($15.90, ISBN: 978-981-07-6332-9)