Indonesian eats are here! I’m sharing all about the food and drinks we enjoyed in Indonesia.
In the U.S., we’re lucky to have access to food of different cultures, so it’s interesting to travel to another country where the cuisine is typically consistent wherever you go. We learned a lot and ate mostly Indonesian cuisine on our trip. The fun of eating in another country is discovering new dishes and recognizing dishes you like along your trip.
For reference, we visited Ubud, Kuta, Canggu, and Nusa Penida. Different parts of Indonesia have region-specific dishes and/or their own way of preparing dishes, so get excited about discovering something new.
In this post, I’ll explain some of the keywords, typical dishes, and restaurant recommendations to give you a primer on Indonesian cuisine.
Indonesian Food Keywords
When it comes to reading signs and menus, here are some of the basic words to recognize.
- Nasi – rice
- Mie – noodle
- Sayur – vegetable
- Ayam – chicken
- Babi – pork
- Bebek – duck
- Sapi – beef
- Ikan – fish
- Udang – shrimp
- Bakso – meatball
- Telur – egg
- Goreng – fried
- Sambal – chili sauce
- Kopi – coffee
- Teh – tea
- Bir – beer
- Air putih – water
Local Foods to try in Indonesia
At the beginning of our trip, I was loving all the soto ayam (chicken soup) but as we were counting down the days until we went home, I made sure to eat as much mie goreng (fried noodles) as I could! Sure, there were a few Italian and healthy restaurants opened by expats, but otherwise, the restaurants served Indonesian dishes and we tried as much of it as possible.
These are the typical and popular dishes you can try in Indonesia. This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the interesting dishes available but should give you a starting place to introduce you to Indonesian cuisine, especially in the Bali region.
Nasi Goreng – Many cultures have their version of a fried rice and this is the one from Indonesia. It typically has vegetables and meat and sometimes topped with a fried egg.
Mie Goreng – Similar to nasi goreng, this is the fried noodles version of the dish.
Nasi Campur – Translated to “mixed rice,” this dish involves choosing your base rice and then accompaniments. Restaurants usually have all the choices laid out and locals usually choose two or three. Some choices we enjoyed include fried chicken, stewed vegetables, and potato chips.
Babi Guling – Roasted suckling pig is a traditional Balinese dish. The pork is typically served on top of white rice and accompanied by some veggies and other parts of the pig, such as blood sausage or crispy skin.
Mee Bakso – This is a meatball noodle dish.
Soto Ayam – One of the most popular dishes is this turmeric chicken noodle soup. It usually has vermicelli noodles and has some spice to it.
Nasi Tepeng – This breakfast dish is a typical street food dish. Its consistency is between rice and porridge and is topped with sauce.
Bebek Goreng – This fried crispy duck dish is a popular one in Bali.
Ayam Goreng – Fried chicken is typically accompanied by rice.
Sate (satay) – These meat skewers are typically seasoned and grilled chicken or pork. They’re usually served with a peanut sauce.
Lawar – This is a dish with minced meat, herbs, and vegetables (usually green beans).
Martabak – This is a hearty street food dish in Indonesia. This fried crepe omelet can be customized to whatever you want inside, typically vegetables, green onion, or minced meat. You can find this dish in other Southeast Asian and Arabian countries.
Jamu Juice – This is an herbal drink made with turmeric, ginger, honey, and lemon. It was very refreshing and it could be part of a sparkling or alcoholic drink. Some locals drink it daily.
Avocado juice – This drink is like a smoothie, with condensed milk and chocolate.
Bintang – Their most popular beer is a pale lager that is part of Heineken.
Anker Beer – Another Indonesian beer company, they also produce a pale lager.
Stark Craft Beer – If you’re looking for craft beer in Indonesia, look for Stark. Their IPA (Indonesian Pale Ale) was deliciously hoppy. Find their beers at the Stark Beer Garden in Kuta or in random restaurants around Bali. I was lucky to happen upon it at The Shady Shack in Canggu.
Coffee – Since Indonesia is the fourth-largest producer of coffee in the world, you bet you can get some good stuff here. There are plantations and flavor varieties all over the country. The most unique type is kopi luwak. Civets, a type of animal, eats the coffee cherry and digests out the coffee bean. The coffee is somewhat controversial as some force feed and inhumanely treat the animals.
Es Campur – This is an Indonesian dessert made with shaved ice and toppings like jelly. There is another similar dessert called es teler, but I haven’t figured out the difference!
Martabak Manis or Terang Bulan – We tried this dessert from a street cart and it was the best dessert I had in Indonesia. It’s similar to the savory martabak but these pancakes have chocolate and nuts.
Cendol – This popular Southeast Asian dessert has green rice flour jelly, coconut milk, syrup, and ice.
Klepon – These are sweet rice balls rolled in grated coconut. It’s found in numerous Southeast Asian countries.
Pisang Goreng – You can’t leave Indonesia without eating some banana fritters. They’re simply bananas or plantains covered in batter and fried. We liked them dipped in Nutella.
Lupis – One of my favorite things we tried, this delicious dessert came from a stall in the street market. It is sticky rice with palm sugar syrup and shredded coconut. You can find it for breakfast but I like it as a dessert option.
In addition to fresh mango, passion fruit, and bananas you’ll enjoy:
- Salak – Also known as snake fruit, this fruit can be peeled and has about four sweet, apple-like fruit pods around a seed.
- Mangosteen – Inside, the white fruit looks similar to salak but it is easy to eat like a clementine.
Restaurants in Indonesia to Try
If you’re looking for restaurant recommendations, here they are! I usually create these huge lists before we travel, narrow down our choices, and see what we’re in the mood for or whatever is nearby. I’ve marked the ones we visited and personally recommend with an asterisk.
The great thing about eating in Bali is that their neighborhoods are fairly walkable and you can wander until you see an enticing restaurant. It’s always a good sign when you see plenty of locals dining there. If you see the word “warung,” it means it is a family-owned business, typically a restaurant.
You’ll notice many trendy restaurants serving menus that are raw, vegan, and vegetarian. This is the result of the tourist boom from Eat, Pray, Love fans hoping to experience the yoga hippie lifestyle. While it has woven itself into Bali culture and is sought-out by tourists, this isn’t the typical Indonesian diet. The famous Balinese roast pork and crispy duck are obvious signs of this!
- *Ayam Betutu Pak Sanur – Balinese roasted pork
- *Babi Guling Gung Cung – chicken and rice
- *Room4Dessert – 21-course dessert-focused tasting menu (see our experience in this post)
- *Locavore – fine dining local tasting menu (see our experience in this post)
- Mozaic – fine dining
- Tukies – coconut ice cream
- *Monsieur Spoon – six locations of this French bakery around Bali
- Seeds of Life Café – raw food
- *KAFE – vegetarian
- Bebek Tepi Sawah – fried duck
- Puspa’s Warung
- Naughty Nuri’s – pork ribs
- Warung Rama – nasi campur
- Kafe Bunute
- Hujan Locale
- Melting Wok Warung
- Mudra Café – ayurvedic cafe
- Alchemy – vegan
- *Seniman Coffee – craft coffee
- Nook Umalas – Indonesian fusion
- Shelter Café – healthy eats
- Nalu Bowls – smoothie bowls
- Warung Babi Guling Pak Malen
- *The Shady Shack – healthy eats
- *Warung Bu Mi – nasi campur
- Warung Varuna – Indonesian food
- Crate – breakfast
- Old Man’s – cool vibes with live music but food was mediocre
- La Brisa – restaurant on echo beach known for its huge patio
- Wahaha – Indonesian food, known for their pork ribs
- Nalu Bowls – smoothie bowls
- Moana Fish Eatery – poke, reservation needed
- Gelato Secrets – European gelato chain
- *The Mocca – healthy eats
There are plenty of new dishes and ingredients to try in Indonesia, so don’t be afraid to venture out. From the traditional roasted pork to the trendy acai bowls, Indonesian cuisine has a variety based on the region.
In Austin, we have one Indonesian restaurant (Twin Panda) but other Southeast Asian restaurants also have dish variations. I’m looking forward to trying these flavors again!
Have you tried any of these Indonesian dishes before?
P.S. Looking for more Indonesia posts? See them here!