Indonesian food can be summed up in two words: delicious and inexpensive. Whether street food or actual restaurant, whether on Sumatra, Java, or somewhere further east, it is pretty hard to go wrong in this culinary country.
I’ve eaten some amazing meals that cost only 15,000 rupiah ($1.50 USD) yet have left me so stuffed I had to get a take-away box for the unfinished portions. The cheapest meal so far cost a mere 7,000 rupiah ($0.70 USD) — a vegetable dish covered in peanut sauce and chili peppers called gado-gago (also known as lotek).
In Jakarta nine of us had an amazing dinner for a grand total of less than $20 USD
Eating some amazing Indonesian food with some fantastic friends at Bubur Ayam Sukabumi in Jakarta. (Notice my crutches in the background?) 😉
Yes, here in Indonesia street food is very popular and the street restaurants are known as warung. Some of the larger warung will actually have a little dining area setup. Those ones are the best because you know they always have great food if there are tables out for people to eat at, rather than the vendors with nothing more than a cart on wheels who serve their dishes in a plastic to-go bag. Of course those guys are also amazing, so don’t rule them out too quickly.
Indonesian street food vendors in Yogyakarta
Here is a basic cheat-sheet for ordering Indonesian food
And Now What You’ve All Been Waiting For…Food Porn!
Take away food is often served on a banana leaf and then wrapped in paper and tossed in a paper bag. This is Nasi Ayam Sambal Ijo (chicken and rice with green chili sauce instead of red — hence the ijo)
Of course there is more to Indonesian food then just the street vendors and small shanty restaurants. I’ve also tried the Indonesian food at fancy restaurants with much less success. Don’t get me wrong, the food was still good. But considering how expensive it was ($30 USD for two people) and the fact that the food tasted exactly the same as that which cost $2 USD, it just was not worth it. Especially for first time backpackers and other budget travelers.
Notice the prices on the menu below (roughly 11,000 rupiah = $1 USD)
The menu from Cafe Anna, a restaurant on Lombok and one of my favorites in the entire country.
In closing, the food mentioned and photographed here in no way represents the entire Indonesian cuisine. There is much more to be found, especially as you travel the many different regions of this incredibly diverse country. However these are definitely the basics and a great place to start tickling your tastebuds.