9 Mandatory Foods to Eat In Indonesia

By Mark Wiens 11 Comments

This is the “9 Mandatory Foods to Eat in Indonesia,” description of the foods.  Check out the “9 Mandatory Foods to Eat in Indonesia in Pictures,” here.

The normal tourist eats and always orders “nasi goreng,” fried rice with an egg on top.  This dish is good, reliable, and will never fail you, however, there is a lot more in Indonesia.

To save myself the trouble of mentioning sambal (ground chili pepper sauce) with all dishes on this list, I will start out saying that, all these dishes can and must be ordered with sambal in excess for optimal flavors (I guess its my opinion).  Check out this recipe for sambal.

1. Hot Plate

I was able to eat hot plate in Yogyakarta with local friends (so I know it was top quality) where I ordered the spicy seafood combination.  5 minutes later a cast iron plate of steaming, piping hot seafood arrived in front of me.  The flavors were tangy, spicy, and dangerously delicious.

2. Nasi Campur

I will include all sorts of Nasi Campur under this heading (you can click here to see my account of Nasi Campur: A Mystery Buffet), including Nasi Padang, and Balinese style Nasi Campur.  A plate of rice and a random assortment of many tasty things including chicken, fish curry, fried eggs, tofu, soybeans, coconut vegetables and so on.

3. Gado Gado

Salad mix that often includes chopped cabbage, watercress, bean sprouts, sliced cucumbers, fried tofu, sliced and boiled potatoes, and boiled eggs.  On the bottom is usually some lontong, or smushed rice cake, made in a banana leaf wrapper.  This salad mixture is then covered in a thick, sweet, and tangy peanut sauce, and then topped with fried shrimp crackers.

4. Lotek

Lotek includes many of the same ingredients as gado gado, such as bean sprouts, watercress, cabbage, rice cake, and tofu.  It can also include other vegetables.  The main difference is the sauce that coats Lotek is a spicy and sweet soy sauce.  One of my personal favorite dishes in Indonesia.

5. Indonesian Sate

Glorious skewers of meat or chicken grilled, coated and drenched in an amazing spicy, peanut and soy sauce.

6. Ikan Bakar

Also known as grilled fish.  The whole fish is butterfly cut, then thrown on the grill with a sweet and salty soy sauce.  It is often served with some sort of sauce, chili, a few herbs, cucumber slices, and of course white rice, completing an excellent meal.

7. Soto Ayam

A breakfast soup of rice noodles and rice, boiled in a chicken broth with various herbs, small amounts of vegetables, and a little amount of chicken.

8. Babi Guling

Babi guling, also known as suckling pig, is a Balinese speciality.  Babi guling is a wonderful addition to the Indonesian palette.  Fatty roasted skin, tender pork, accompanied by other pig parts, small amounts of vegetables, and rice.

9. Cap Cay

A welcome relief to the many grease filled dishes is the vegetable dominated dish of cap cay (pronounced chap chay).  Basically it is a boiled stir fry of various vegetables mostly cabbage, carrots, green beans, chili peppers, and anything else, with small bits of chicken or egg, and served with white rice.

Be sure not to miss any of these dishes when you travel to Indonesia.  Its good to know that in New York City, I can get some of these authentic Indonesian plates.

-Mark Wiens

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  • Ria

    5 years ago

    And where is tahu or tempe, nasi goreng, some sweets? 🙂

  • Mark Wiens

    12 years ago

    Thank you all for the great suggestions, there will have to be a part two of this post sometime!

  • Ben Limisella

    12 years ago

    how about bakmi ayam???? (also known as mi ayam, or mie ayam / chicken noodle)

    or similarly, bakso kuah (meatball soup)????

  • Rachael

    12 years ago

    Mmm cap cay! Don’t forget the Indo staple, nasi goreng!