There is no talking about Indonesia (or Malaysia or Thailand) without mentioning food. Just as there is no meeting in Indonesia without food. Just as there is not an hour in Indonesia without food… And thanks to our host Dody we had chance to experience full food potential of Yogyakarta. So without further due – dinner is served!
Starting off with the most popular and known dish, nasi goreng. Available everywhere and at every time of the day and night, I’ve had my first one just after arrival bought from a stand in the street around 10 PM. Basically a stir-fried rice with vegetables, eggs and some chicken – at the stand it was actually a matter of luck. Everything in dark soy sauce. Unfortunately I don’t have my own pictures as I started to instagram my food later on, but I didn’t want to leave it without illustration. After all we eat also with our eyes, don’t we? Below you can see version with beef sausages and krupuk udang – a strange prawn cracker (on the right).
The bigger variety of kinds you can find with satay. In simple words – meat on a stick, but comes in so many different kinds, shapes and flavours that it was hard to taste everything. Picture below was taken in one of restaurants in Yogya which during the day serves as a school, and in the evening you’ve got tons of satay lying around.
Just next to all kinds of other delicacies, including sweets and desserts. Though as sweet is a crucial flavour also for main dishes in Indonesia it was sometimes hard to distinguish what should be “regular dish” and what should be a dessert. Nevermind, as long as it was tasty!
One more main dish that I’ve found fascinating was rendang. Sweet and spicy, made of beef pieces boiled in coconut milk with some chilli added. Here below with one more interesting thing – brown egg (telur pindang). No, it is not this famous century-old egg originating from China, it is simply boiled in coconut milk. Kind of sweet, again.
Ok, enough with the main dishes, now it is time to wash it down with something. I was relieved when in one of the restaurants I finally found a position in menu called beer. Though question from the waiter – “Hot or cold?” should make me suspicious. After giving the obvious “cold” answer we get… see for yourself:
Fruity, sweet, with ice cubes inside for our special desire to be “cold”. And far away from anything marked as beer that I’ve ever tasted, and I believe me I am trying every strange beer I can find out there. This one was not specially good, but worth giving a try.
Except for tea with ginger, milk with ginger, I loved one very characteristic drink for this region – teh tarik. It is strongly connecting my taste to the memory of trip, as it was so delicious I had it whenever I could. Basically it is tea half-half with condensed milk, poured from height so it gets a bit foamy. This is the reason why they call it “pulled tea” – literal translation. Before tasting it wasn’t a fan of tea with milk (what do you see in it, English people???) but with the sweetened condensed milk… mmm.
The last drink before we get to dessert would be kopi joss. Coffee with charcoal. Yeah, THAT charcoal. Served on Yogyakarta street only in the evenings, in places that include a small stand on one side of the street and rugs and mats on the other side, for sitting. Street gets lively, among people drinking kopi joss wander musicians, beggars, cigarette salesmen, prostitutes… Coffee with full package. But let’s get back to this charcoal – it is simply put into hot coffee, you have to stir it a bit, wait for it to dissolve partly, and then throw out remains away. Tastes good, and I am sure that somehow helps with trouble with digesting Asian food… if you know what I mean.
Ok, time for dessert – King of Fruit, mighty Durian. Banned from many places due to it’s extensive smell, looks like ending of a medieval mace, but inside holds fruit that can be turned into juice, shake, ice-cream or stuffing to a pancake as I’ve experienced.
Don’t get fool but that smiles. I enjoyed the refreshing taste of durian mixed with shaved ice, but I guess I was an exception.
On the course of going from restaurant to restaurant Dody took us also to Bryan’s place. Junction Jogja run by an American (Texan, to be specific) expat and run together with his Indonesian girlfriend, serves a weird but interesting mixture of traditional Indonesian cuisine with tex-mex. With frequent social events like language exchanges or contests it is a certain must-visit place for Yogyakarta.
Awesome thing about culture of eating here is the connection with food and eating place. Low tables and mats – no chairs. I was getting really comfortable with sitting just on the ground, stretch my legs to the side, put my back against the wall or whatever. Chairs seem a bit of an anchor. And no shoes on mats of course, making the act of eating a bit more intimate. Next thing was eating with right hand. And by “with hand” I mean “with hand”, making a little spoon out of fingers, getting dirty, but feeling the texture, consistency with your skin. For me it gave a certain type of connection and taste to the food. Maybe this is what made it finger-licking good.
Sometimes I wish these habits could be implemented in Europe. Check it out for yourselves as “do try this at home”!