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Nov 27, 2012 05:20 PM

Must-eats in INDONESIA? (Yogyakarta, Makassar to Rantepao, Ubud, Padangbai)

We're heading to Indonesia over Christmas/New Year's, our first visit to the country. We eat everything and want to experience the most authentic renditions of the traditional foods in each region we'll be visiting. We're not afraid of hole-in-the-wall, family owned establishments or street food. A high-end meal in each place would be nice, too, as long as the food is fabulous and memorable and it's not a tourist-trap rip-off.

Any food-related advice on accommodating our vegetarian (lacto-ovo + some fish) daughter would be appreciated, as well.

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  1. Re: Yogyakarta - a *must-try* is Ayam Goreng Mbok Berek. They came up with the definitive "Ayam Goreng Yogya" (Yogyakarta-style fried chicken) dish which is famous all over the Indonesian archipelago:

    1. I spent 3 weeks in Sulawesi last year working my way from Makassar to Rantepao and back again, spending most of the time in smaller towns along the way.
      Overall the food was fine but pretty disappointing in Rantapao where it is geared towards tourists. Probably the best restaurant we found was a hole in the wall about 3 kms from the airport outside Makassar. I can probably dig up details if needed.

      4 Replies
      1. re: el jefe

        That's too bad. I was hoping that Rantepao and environs would be less touristy given that it's not very easy to get to. Did you get to the Sengkang/Lake Tempe area? What I'd love to do is somehow arrange to have an authentic Torajan or Bugis meal in someone's home. If you can find details about that place near Makassar airport, I'd appreciate it.

        1. re: Tatai

          Rantepao isn't that hard to get to and it's one of the two most touristy areas of Sulawesi. Other than an expat family I saw in Sengkang, Rantepao was the only place I saw any foreigners in all of southern Sulawesi.

          As for the no-name restaurant I mentioned earlier:
          Leave the airport and turn right onto the main road towards Maros.
          Go about a kilometer.
          There will be a small hotel on the left -- Wisma Darma Nusantara -- it's incredibly dumpy.
          Continue a little further up the road towards Maros. The first restaurant you come to on the right hand side is it.
          Very friendly and helpful service. We had a fried fish dish, a stewed fish dish, and several more. All very good.

        2. re: el jefe

          Disappointing as in, "banana pancakes and nasi goreng," or what? Nothing spicy?

          1. re: BuildingMyBento

            No. Plenty of local dishes too. But everything is geared to foreigners so everything we tried was under-seasoned and under-spiced. It was hard to find small restaurants in the Rantepao area that weren't geared towards tourists. Breakfast was at our hotel. Lunch was always at a place our guide suggested. We had 4 dinners in Rantepao. All were in restaurants that served both Indonesian and western food. one night walking around after dinner we found a small restaurant catering to locals. They made a pretty good gado-gado but that's not a particularly Sulawesi dish.

        3. Recently in Ubud with a vegetarian friend. We had a wonderful meal with great service at the rather upscale Bridges. It wasn't cheap, bu we thought it was good value (as opposed to Mosaic, which although beautiful and very good was outrageously expensive). Vegetarian food is available pretty much all over in Bali...and I suspect elsewhere in Indonesia. Bridges is the place to go for your upscale meal in Bali!

          1. Thanks for the replies, all. I'm wondering if any of the higher end restaurants in the areas we're travelling to are doing any inventive "Indonesian with a twist" cooking. I dislike using the word "fusion," but if done right it could be wonderful.

            1. One of the spicier regional Indonesian cuisines hails from Manado, in the northeast portion of Sulawesi. It's a heavily Christian city so fruit bat, dog, and pork satiate the folk. Of course, fish plays a role too, with skipjack tuna (cakalang) being popular. That city plays host to my favorite Indonesian foods, including dabu-dabu (a sambal with tomatoes chilies and onions), various cakalang dishes and desserts such as kue lapis (a bit of a gelatinous cake) and cucur (it was sweet, perhaps with nutmeg and cinnamon, but don't quote me there). To be fair, I've never actually been to Manado, but I eat its representative food in Jakarta literally every day I'm in town. YMMV, of course.