With South East Asia on my doorstep, I seem to have two thoughts commonly occurring.... 'What country is servin up the best food?' And 'WHERE am I going next?' With Hong Kong offering a wide array of Asian restaurants, cuisines and specialty dishes I find myself working my way around the cuisine scene in order to choose my next vacay accordingly...#foodieproblems. My most recent vacay took me to the BEAUTIFUL country of Indonesia. Despite the lacking of Indonesian restaurants here in Hong Kong, I was ready to take on this undiscovered food scene (not to mention the beaches, rice fields and water falls weren't SO bad). Now putting the LIFE CHANGING smoothie bowls, red velvet pancakes and of course TACOS aside, I highly advise you to seek out some authentic Indonesian eats! I'll be honest, before traveling to Indonesia, I didn't have a whole lotta experience with Indonesia food. With few expectations and a hungry belly, let's just say I got acquainted fast! Using beautiful spices, flavours and ingredients, I was anything but disappointed! Indonesia quickly became one of my favorite places to eat-my-way-around!
Now Dieters, I know that trying the local cuisines can be difficult at times, with unfamiliar dish names, unexpected ingredients, and of course a language barrier one can often stick to what is familiar and recognized on a menu. That being said, my advice to you is this... don't do that. Here are some of my all time favourite Indonesian dishes!
Traditionally from Java, Indonesia sate can now be found almost everywhere in Indonesia! These skewers, made of chicken ( beef, fish, or other meats) are cooked over hot coals and served in a delightful peanut sauce. This was definitely one of my favorites of the street eats!
These tightly wrapped banana leaves were filled with glutinous rice and served as the side to our tasty chicken sate. They were super chewy and DELISH, especially when dunked in the satay sauce. (Not to mention VERY entertaining when unraveling these precisely wrapped rolls.)
Perkedel Jagung are essentially sweet corn fritters. These particular ones were stuffed with sweet corn (obviously) along with meaty chunks of shrimp. SO GOOD. Try the traditional ones or hop over to The Fat Turtle to have them as the base for KILLER Eggs Benedict!
If there is one thing I have become obsessed with since moving to Asia, it has to be prawn crackers! I find myself moweing through them mid day and stashing bags of them at home... In case of emergencies of course ;) . Fortunately for me there was no stocking up required when in Indonesia! Indonesia serves up these bad guys on the regular! They come in a variety of flavors including fish, shrimp and even fruit! You can pretty much find these little guys everywhere (I even had them for breakfast!!!)
Spicy Corn (not sure the Indonesian name but trust me, you can't miss it!)
This is WONDERFUL. This street corn can be found pretty much everywhere on Gili Trawangan. Brushed with spicy butter and grilled over open coals, you are gonna want to grab a cob (or two)!
MIE GORENG IS AMAZING. These "ramen like" noodles are pan fried with a variety of veg and topped with a fried egg. You can find this Indonesian staple pretty much everywhere! SO GOOD and so SATISFYING. YUMMMMM.
Okay, this one was a bit harder to come by, (we had this particular dish at a warung on Gili Air) but it was WONDERFUL. Meat free and filled with both fresh and fried veggies topped with a spicy dressing and grated coconut.... YES PLEASE. Not to mention it was served with a side of prawn crackers... AMAZING.
Nasi Campur Bali
Warning if you are not into spicy, steer clear of this dish. Think you can handle the heat? TRY IT. This platter was serving up sate, crispy potatoes, veggies and sambal. The crispy potatoes were super yummy with a similar texture to corn flakes dunked in a sweet and sticky sauce...VERY moreish. The chicken sate was cooked on a lemongrass stick and the sambal ( Indonesian hot sauce) was HOT. Had super nice flavor but definitely required a few glasses of water to put out the fire.
Located in Ubud, Ibu Oka serves up some of the best Babi Guling in Bali. Babi Guling is essentially roast suckling pig and it is AMAZING. We went for the Spesial plate which consisted of rice topped with babi guling meat, pork roll, crispy skin , vegetables and gorengan (which is essentially pork fritters made with pork meat and flour.) The gorengan was definitely MY FAV part of the platter! Don't miss Ibu Oka whilst in Bali!
Gado-Gado is AMAZING. Basically an Indonesian salad made up of steamed and fresh vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, fried tempeh, tofu and topped with a peanut dressing. Definitely an essential in the Indonesian diet (and perfect if you're not into meat).
Nasi Goreng is basically Indonesian fried rice! This dish comes in a variety of styles but is a true essential in Indonesian cuisine (ergo, you can find it EVERYWHERE). TRY IT.
Cendil is a glutinous rice flour cake sweetened, coloured and rolled in coconut! This one in particular had a sweet sugar centre. Very tasty.
I'll be honest. We ate these pretty much daily. These battered and fried bananas were so simple yet so delicious! Coming in a variety of styles (ice cream topped, chocolate sauced or honey drizzled) I can guarantee you are going to want to try them AT LEAST once.
Having left Indonesia with a newly discovered love for Indonesian cuisine, I can undoubtedly say that Indonesia is a must-do for any and ALL foodies. Their vast array of dishes, flavors and desserts are not to be missed (oh yeah and the beaches are pretty nice too ;)).
So on that note Dieters, I'll say it again, GET TO INDONESIA.
You stay hungry Hong Kong.
And remember, Your diet starts tomorrow!