Indonesian cuisine


I did not have any prior notions about Indonesian food before coming to Indonesia, so I was genuinely surprised to find it bland, tasteless and outright bad on several occasions. Too much carbs and not that many vegetables. Overly sweet and not enough spices to balance out sugar and salt. Indonesian salads are non-existent and the closest thing to a salad, gado-gado is ruined with peanut sauce. Local curries lack in flavour and taste like a poor version of more traditional curries. Another example is coffee. In the country, which is known for its good (export?) coffee, I have not had a single cup of good Joe. On top of all I got my first ever food allergy reaction in Bali. Swollen lips and all that jazz.

I have always tended to diss people sticking to the Western food in Asia, but I found myself eating French fries more than anytime in my life. Interestingly enough in Indonesia they have no problems preparing good fries or a decent meal from a foreign cuisine. The best meal we had in Jakarta was Japanese, Mexican (!) on Air, Indian on Trawangan, Vietnamese in Kuta and so on. Well, you get the picture.

It is not all doom and gloom, though. Sate (grilled meat sticks in peanut sauce) served on the streets was excellent. However in restaurants they tend to overdo with sugar in the peanut sauce (once to the point of being inedible). Seafood barbecue was usually good, if you ignore the tendency to overcook the fish and the overall dryness of the meal. However, the best experiences with the local cuisine was with low-profile street warungs, where all the dishes are on display and you assemble your meal by yourself. Versatile and tasty, plus easy on your wallet too. The hygiene in some of these places could be a lot better, but on the other hand we succeeded to dodge any stomach problems. The advice here is the usual one, avoid tourist traps and stick to the places, where locals eat.

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