It has been a long time since I wrote about my travels. Glad to be posting this one on some great Javanese cuisine that I had recently during a whirlwind 3 day trip to Surbaya + Mt Bromo. I will leave my recommendations on roughing it out at Mt Bromo for another post though.
Java (for those geographically-challenged friends of mine), is the world’s most populous island. It houses many famous Indonesian cities like Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Solo and Surabaya. Javanese cuisine is known to be simpler and not as complex/heavy/spicy as compared to Sumatra. The dishes tend to be a little sweeter too – and this was evident throughout my meals over the 3 days.
I shall attempt to list down all the main meals I had in order of Valeebelly star ratings (just pretend there is such an index, ok?). Am going to exclude the snacks and in-between meals I had as I am very sure there would be judgmental looks the next time I see you in person should I divulge the whole truth.
Nasi = Rice
Pecel = Cooked vegetables with peanut sauce
This was our breakfast (our SECOND breakfast, if you want to be technical) on the day we were supposed to leave Surabaya. A recommendation by our driver, we foot-navigated through a few blocks of dilapidated Surabaya buildings, crossed a little canal, before arriving at Jln Ketabang Kali 5. It was a hot morning and we were more than glad to step into the shaded eatery filled with locals having their power breakfast of Nasi Pecel.
This place has a clear menu + price listings hung high on the wall, which is useful for those who aren’t great with conversational Bahasa Indonesia. After some ding-dongs with the irritable lady server, I finally got our plates of Nasi Pecel: good scoop of rice, kangkung, peanut crackers, tempeh (LOVE!) and their secret spice-blended peanut sauce. It was one of the most amazing mix of “cai fan” I have ever had. As for the add-on ayam goreng – not impressive.
Lady boss was very friendly and tried striking up a conversation with us. Took some photos of her and the set-up, before telling her (in my broken Bahasa Indonesia) that I would post these pictures up on internet and introduce her place to my friends. Smiles exchanged. Mission accomplished.
A very budget breakfast (11,000 IDR/S$1.20) with friendly locals. Stop by if you can.
Nasi Goreng/Mie Goreng (Push cart)
Mie = Noodles
Goreng = Fried
Last night in Java. Our supper came 5 minutes after our huge Sambal dinner (refer below). Categorizing it as supper gives us a perfect excuse for trying out another stall right after dinner. And I am glad we did.
At 8,000 IDR /S$0.90, it was the most fragrant plate of nasi goreng I have ever had. Fried in front of our very eyes with cabbages sliced right into the wok and secret sauces flung into it after being scooped from a mysterious ancient-looking pot. The chicken was pre-roasted (so so tender) and added after the carbs have been dished. Always thankful for street food.
We sat and ate at the push cart store… love how close we were to the wok. Situated just beside the Padin Sambal Restaurant (featured below).
Lontong Balap = Racing Rice Cakes (!?!?! – i got it from Wiki)
Another typical Javanese dish that our driver recommended. Surprisingly sweet/savoury broth poured over a generous serving of lontong (rice cake), tofus, a ton of beansprouts and a spoonful of fried shallots (best!). Again, ran by a bunch of friendly, batik-wearing locals. Very budget too at about 11,000 IDR/S$1.20 per plate. Authentic Javanaese cuisine at its best! We tried the one near House of Sampoerna (Cigarette museum) with a big cavas that says: Terkenal Rasa Tidak Berubah Sejak 1956 – Lontong Balap Rajawali (which roughly means: famous and maintaining the same taste since 1956). Set-up was also similar to the one at the Nasi Pecel place.
Everywhere across Java and highly recommended by JS who couldn’t wait to bring us to one (any one) for a meal after conquering the volcano. We eventually ended up at Padin Sambal Restaurant – a 24 hour restaurnt at Jln Kranggan No 26. It was our most expensive street meal at S$17 in total for 1 pomfret + half a dozen prawns + tempehs + petai beans + duck leg + chicken thigh + egg plant+ 3 tea.
To sum it all up, I am just sooooo glad that we all did not have the runs after the crazy hot-as-hell sambal dishes. The spiciness was not the only reason why we were crossing our fingers. Throwing caution to the wind, we picked our basic ingredients from a pile of pre-fried fish/chicken/veg that was swarmed with flies. The meat and veg were then refried and doused in a good scoop of their in-house fresh sambal and served on stone plates.
Not a shred of meat left after the end of the fiery episode. Lotsa sweat and swollen lips though.
Nasi Goreng (at the Hotel)
One of the more expensive + least authentic meal we had at 26,000 IDR/S$3. But nice all the same since we spent close to 5 hours traveling from Surabaya to Cemero Lawang where we started our Bromo adventure. We had this at Cafe Lava Hostel (Cemero Lawang). A cosy sanctuary from the chilly night out.
Very comforting first meal in Java. We were expecting some authentic Javanese cuisine for our lunch on the first day but was driven to a rest plaza en route to Cemero Lawang. The nasi campur looked dubious and we opted for the instant noodles instead (you can’t go wrong with that). Indomie conjures up fond memories of those Michigan days where my housemates and I devoured packets of them on cold winter nights while prepping for exams. Available in Singapore!
Glad to report 0 cases of bowel disorders from our Java food explorations.