Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by indohoyindohoy on 17 March 2012 • Itinerary
Who loves to eat, say aye! “Aye…!” Aha, you’re with us, then! Cos one of our itinerary in Semarang was to ‘nom nom’ on whatever local food we could get our hands on. It was pretty challenging since Mom texted me on departure date, “Watch your weight!” But diet starts tomorrow. Meanwhile, we splurged ourselves on the various delish food Semarang is known to serve. Too many to tell in just one entry, we’re splitting the Semarang food story in two parts.
* For info on Things To Do, Where To Sleep, How To Get Around and How To Get There, check out our previous post here
On our way to the hotel right when we arrived in the city, we passed by Lombok Idjo restaurant and Manggala foodcourt (also with Lombok Idjo as one of their tenants) on Jalan Gajah Mada. “Lombok Idjo” means green chili, hotter than the red ones in general. As fans of hot spicy food we didn’t wait long to grab a bite to eat as soon as we finished checking in. A breezy 15-minute walk later we got our butts sitting at Lombok Idjo, the one in Manggala foodcourt.
What we ordered: fried chicken with green chili condiment, fried tempeh – as I was eating with Diyan the king of tempeh, spinach in clear soup, and petai (beans with strong –unpleasant- odor).
Taste: overall I thought everything was average. It didn’t really meet our expectation (attractive bright lights and traditional cozy looking venue apparently had nothing to do with food taste), but it was alright. Plus we were hungry, so we didn’t complain.
Price: IDR 39,000 for the whole meal. For two. That’s quite cheap, compared to Jakarta’s prices for a similar meal and level of diner’s comfort.
The only durian diner I’ve been to was in Padang a few years back, I didn’t expect to see one in Semarang, and yet it became our best findings. We all went for it even though it was already midnight and we really weren’t hungry.
You can choose all sorts of durian dish and mine was the ever favorite kind since I was little: sweet durian meat combined with savory ketan (sticky rice), just like how my Minangnese parents taught me on how to savor it. It’s probably how the Thais or Laotians eat durians too, I’m not sure. Maybe you know?
Vindhya and Uci ordered another kind of menu, some sort of soupy dish with strong durian flavor with shredded bread. Both were tasty but to me, durian with ketan has no competition!
SUNDAY MORNING MARKET AT STADIUM
We got the info on this morning market from a hotel staff. Good thing we asked, cos I found it fun and interesting! It’s been a while since I’ve been to this kind of market where street vendors sell about everything. Stickers, coloring books, clothes, knives, toys, ice cream, dough balls, even snake and lizard meat!
We had a pretty normal breakfast, though it was kinda heavy for my usual standard: a bowl of soto ayam (chicken soup, sort of). It consisted of glass noodles with shredded chicken, all sorts of spices, dipped in a soup with chicken broth. You can eat it with rice, lontong, or any additional toppings like perkedel (fried potato cake), fried tempeh, and squirt some lime to it to make it yummier!
A portion of soto ayam and a perkedel = IDR 5,000. My god, that’s only 50 cents for a breakfast!
TAHU SERASI & TEMPE BANDUNGAN
These we had out of impulse. Thanks to the traffic jam on our way back from Candi Gedong Songo to Semarang, we had time to notice so many tahu serasi (translates to “matching tofu”, tee hee, funny name) and tempe bandungan along the Bandungan street. Seeing the cars only moved inch by inch, Vindhya and I hopped off the angkot to buy some tofu and tempe to later have the hotel staff fry them for us. They’re actually available in the city as well, but it’s said that they’re originally from Bandungan.
The taste? Yummy. But I didn’t find them unique or different from the usual tofu or tempeh. They made great snacks for us when waiting for the rain to stop before leaving to Semawis Night Market, though.
Tahu serasi IDR 7,000 / portion.
Tempe Bandungan IDR 700 / slice.
SEMAWIS NIGHT MARKET
As told by Mumun here, you can choose so many kinds of dinner and supper in this Chinatown market. However, no matter how huge our appetite for culinary treats, there’s a limit to the capacity of our tummies. So we didn’t try much in the market, only a portion of regular siomay (a dish modified from its origin in China, consisting steamed fish flavored flour etc eaten best with peanut sauce).
Because we went there after the rain, the street was kinda sloshy, water dripped from edges of awnings, was not an attractive ambience for having meals to me.
PAK SABAR’S on Jalan Depok
Nasi Goreng Babat
A recommendation we got from one of our Twitter followers who used to live in Semarang for 7 years: tripe fried rice or nasi goreng babat. Anybody grossed out by innards, better not eat this. But if you’re adventurous enough, try it, it’s harmless. Vindhya loved the nasi goreng babat at Pak Sabar’s street diner on Jalan Depok. I thought it was alright. I much prefer the taste of tripe in other Indonesian menus like Soto Betawi for instance, because to me it sort of lost the texture and unique taste when fried and mixed with the rice.
It was a good value for IDR 9,000 though.
Now this, I don’t get why people recommended it so much. I found it just okay, but I guess it’s just a matter of preference. Tahu pong is basically plain fried tofu with chopped cabbages and spicy soya sauce. We didn’t finish the portion and have it wrapped to be later eaten at the hotel.. which then we forgot. Oops, didn’t mean to be wasteful, we totally forgot 🙁
A portion of tahu pong: IDR 9,000.
This is where you should go if you want to dine in a place with some historical value. Toko Oen’s history goes way back to the 1930s with their outlets in Yogyakarta, Semarang, and Malang. The one in Semarang was established in April 16, 1936, to be exact. As it was built in the Dutch colonial era, the building has a strong old Dutch feeling to it. It used to be a favorite amongst the Dutch, the Chinese, and some well off “inlanders” (Indonesian originals). Nowadays anyone can go there, and a lot of old people come for some nostalgia. Isn’t that sweet?
We had the predictable menu: ice cream. Toko Oen is famous for its homemade ice cream, it’s been that way since they first established. But it wouldn’t be Indohoy without some unpredictability in the predictable. We agreed to point at a menu out of the ice cream menu page… with our eyes closed! Ha! Solo train trip all over again!
So we had four different ice creams, ranging from IDR 13,000 to IDR 28,500 a portion. We also had a “speed tasting”, passing the ice creams to the right, so everyone could taste each one. Some were too sweet and some were just right for my liking, but I forgot the names of the menu we had.
Jalan Pemuda 52, Semarang
Tel.: +62 (0)24 354 1683
SIMPANG LIMA HAWKERS & OPEN AIR FOODCOURT
As the eat-almost-whatever-whenever-and-however nation, food hawkers are spread everywhere, finding food sellers on sidewalks is not a problem whatsoever in this country. And in the heart of Semarang, there’s this area called Simpang Lima (an intersection with five (lima) branches of streets), where hawkers and even a food court are in business on the sidewalks!
Howkay.. watch for our next entry on culinary tour in Semarang. There’s more!