As with many places around the world, there are some key dishes that constitute an important part of Indonesian culture. These dishes can be experienced both in restaurants and hotels, as well as from the traditional food carts and warungs. You’ll be surprised by the choices you can find all around this beautiful country. Don’t know your mie from your nasi? Once you get the hang of it we promise you’ll feel like a part of the local scene in no time. Here are some of the best dishes you can find:
Perhaps Indonesia’s best-known dish is nasi goreng. This dish is simply a plate of fried rice (‘nasi’ means rice and ‘goreng’ means fried) with various additions to make it more exciting. You can, in theory, cook nasi goreng with pretty much anything and you will find it with meat, fish, and seafood in it.
However, in its purest form it is simply made of fried rice with some vegetables such as carrots and topped with a fried egg. The Indonesian spices and seasoning make it addictively delicious. If you don’t eat fish or seafood then ask for it to be ‘Tanpa daging dan tanpa ikan’ (without meat OR fish). Of course, it’s on our menu at the hostel… so you don’t have to stray too far away to try it.
Mie goreng is the partner of nasi goreng in the age-old Asian food battle of rice vs. noodles. ‘Mie’ refers to the noodles in this dish. After nasi goreng, it’s the next most popular one-dish meal in Indonesia. Mie goreng or “fried noodles” is a vague name because the dish itself is also rather vague and it can be made with a variety of different noodles and with a range of things mixed in.
You can expect a plate of steaming fried noodles with fresh crunchy veggies and sometimes an egg scrambled in. Traditionally these types of dishes come spicy (padas) though you can request not spicy (tidak padas). But hey, a little flavour never hurt anybody.
Put simply, gado-gado is a dish of vegetables that usually includes bean sprouts, greens, cabbage leaves, steamed carrots and potatoes, and often tofu or tempeh, depending on where you go. The whole thing is then drenched in a thick and delicious peanut sauce and is often topped with an egg.
The key difference between this and traditional Western salads is the amount of sauce used – so if you’re a peanut butter lover, this is the perfect dish for you. It’s usually covered in it rather than just being a subtle dressing. You won’t be disappointed at the portion size! This can be found in just about any local restaurant or warung in Gili Trawangan.
Nasi campur is a mixed rice dish accompanied by multiple small dishes of your choice. The small sides usually includes tempeh, stir-fried eggplant or green beans, curried meat, and fried eggs. The good thing about nasi campur is you really don’t have to limit yourself to just two or three items, as the options are epic. This all surrounds a steaming cup of white, red, or brown rice.
It is usually a hearty portion, and there are so many flavour combinations to explore. So you will most likely be sitting in satisfaction after this amazing plate of goodness. Trust us, your taste buds will thank you.
This vibrant dish is also one of Indonesia’s national dishes. Nasi uduk revolves around rice cooked in coconut milk. It is usually served with fried chicken, tempeh, shredded omelette, fried onion, anchovies, and topped with sambal. For spicy fans out there, sambal is a chilli-based sauce very popular commonly throughout Indonesian dishes.
Satay consists of skewers of meat flavoured with spices, grilled or barbecued. The skewers themselves are usually made from the rib of the coconut palm frond, or from bamboo. The meat on the skewers varies widely, although chicken, pork, and mutton are among the most common. The accompaniments for satay skewers include spicy peanut sauce, rice cakes, or mixed slivers of cucumber and onion. Meat lovers unite – you won’t be disappointed.
Urap is a classic veggie masterpiece here in Indonesia. It consists of vegetables like long green beans and Chinese bean sprouts, grated coconut and bay leaves. Cooks also use ingredients like garlic, chilli peppers, shallots, and sambal. It’s a refreshing mix of crunchy vegetables and tropical flavours.
Nasi lemak is a fragrant rice dish cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf. Served with anchovies, peanuts, boiled egg, lamb curry, cucumber, and sambal. This dish smells divine from the mix of ingredients, and is often eaten throughout the day.
Lalapan is also a very famous dish. You’ll get a plate of raw vegetables with rice, paired with some meat or seafood. At many vendors, you can choose between chicken, catfish, or duck. Your plate comes with a piece of meat/seafood, rice, tofu, tempeh, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Don’t forget to add sambal to bring the heat!
So now you know, and should have no issues in jumping head first into Indonesian cuisine on Gili Trawangan. We thought we might wrap up this blog with a bit of Bahasa to help you along your journey to find the best dish that best suits you. Chat in a restaurant like a local with these phrases:
Mau makan apa pak? – What do you want to eat sir?
Mau pesan apa bu? – What do you want to order, ma’am?
Saya mau pesan nasi goreng satu piring – I want to order 1 plate of nasi goreng
Tidak pedas – Not spicy/ hot
Saya juga minta sate ayam – I also want sate ayam
Minumnya apa pak? – What do you want to drink, sir?
Saya mau es jeruk – I want orange water with ice
Ada lagi? – Anything else?
Tidak, itu saja – No, That’s all
Baik, tunggu sebentar – Alright, wait a moment
Ini pesanan anda – Here’s what you ordered
Terima kasih – Thank you
Sama-sama – You’re welcome
Here on Gili Trawangan, there is no shortage of local warungs, food stalls, and restaurants filled with a large variety of options that suit your palate. Jump out of your comfort zone and try something new the next time you come to visit.
Broken Compass Hostel offers a selection of these dishes, so it’s a great introduction after reading this blog. Come check out our menu as it’s packed with our own local cuisine to choose from! Memorize and immerse yourself in the local goodness that is Indonesia, from nasi goreng to delicious Indonesian curries.
Between bites of Indonesian plates, we also have Western options that will curb those cravings. The famous UK Sunday roast, classic Canadian poutine, cheesy chimichanga, and don’t forget about our dragon fruit bowl for your a healthy breakfast. Variety at its finest!
Gili Trawangan and Broken Compass are waiting for you. What are you waiting for?