A Taste of Indonesia For Less Than $10

Who doesn’t love Indonesia? Well, aside from the beautiful beaches and sunset in Bali and the warm greetings from the locals, there is something else Indonesian should be proud of : the LOCAL CUISINE. Been living all my life in Indonesia, I found that herbs and spices are very essential in Indonesian cooking. You might find a very complicated ingredients in Indonesian dish recipe. Yup! The number of spices per dish is so much I can’t even cook my own Indonesian dish. And here, each island does have their own authentic local taste. Balinese cuisine has a rich flavor of herbs and a spicier taste than the one in Java island. While the foods in Sumatra tend to be hot and spicy and rich of coconut milk. And guess what? They are all very affordable! Here are some of my favorite.

Nasi Campur Ayam from Bali

Nasi Ayam Bali

Steam rice, Balinese shredded chicken, some vegetables, sate lilit (minced fish satay), peanuts, chicken skin, and a slice of boiled egg. Yes, it might not look so tempting for some people. And without the veggies, it’ll be too dry. I didn’t even think I’ll finish mine at the first time. But then, I found myself enjoying every bite of it! It tasted exactly like any other Balinese cooking – sweet, kinda spicy but not so much, and so rich in flavor of traditional herbs. And the taste of each ingredients somehow blend with each other really well. There are no part of the dish tasted stronger and more dominant than the other – that’s what I call by The Taste of Bali. And the more important thing is… they use fresh ingredients! So it tasted just like what local dish should be. Fresh and authentic. A part of Balinese cuisine you should never forget is the delicious sambal matah. I love it! It’s some kind of Balinese style raw sambal with Lombok chilli, onions, oils, and many other things. Yum. It usually costs you $2 for a portion of Nasi Campur.

BPK (Babi Panggang Karo / Karo-Styled ) from North Sumatra

Babi Panggang Karo
Babi Panggang Karo (BPK)

 

BPK (Babi Panggang Karo) is Karo-styled Roast Pig which is usually served with some kind of mashed cassava leaves on the bottom of it and saksang sauce. Saksang sauce is a chilli sauce with a mixture of congealed blood. Yes, blood. But don’t freak out since it doesn’t taste like blood at all. In fact, saksang sauce and the roast pig does match each other very well. It usually costs you $3 for a portion of BPK.

Ketan Bakar from Bandung

Ketan Bakar
Ketan Bakar with Serundeng (sauteed grated coconut)

 

A slice of grilled sticky rice (ketan bakar) in a cold afternoon? Yes please! Ketan Bakar, as its name implies, is a square-shaped sticky rice grilled using charcoal until golden brown. It is quite popular among tourists and locals in Lembang, Bandung. Ketan Bakar is usually served with peanut sauce, serundeng (sauteed grated coconut), or oncom sauce. Guess what? It will only costs you around $0.2!

Sop Buntut from Anywhere!

Sop Buntut

This one is one of my favorite! Sop Buntut (Oxtail Soup) is quite popular here, and it is somehow a little bit pricey than any other kind of meal (but still affordable, around $3). A normal oxtail soup is made of slices of highly seasoned fried or barbecued oxtail which is usually served in a separate bowl with the soup. The soup itself is so rich and clear. I find it best for a rainy day. It usually costs you $3 for a portion of Sop Buntut.

Cripsy Duck from Bali

Crispy Duck Bali
Crispy Duck

 

Ubud has rapidly become one of the best places in Bali for eating out. And going to Ubud Bali won’t be complete without having Crispy Duck for lunch. A set of crispy duck usually comes together with steam rice and a various type of sambal.

Sambal
4 kind of Sambal

 

Yup, sambal important in Indonesian cuisine. For me, eating crispy duck or fried chicken won’t be special without sambal! And eating crispy duck is a must when you visit Bali. It’s sooo crispy and tender at the same time. ;) The price itself varies depending on where you have your crispy duck from. You can have a $3 – $4 crispy duck, but in a famous fancy restaurant, you’ve got to pay $8 – $10.

Satay

Rabbit Satay

You can’t leave Indonesia without having satay. You just… can’t. Here, satay is EVERYWHERE! You could find it at a street vendor, at people’s wedding at the ballroom, at New Year’s BBQ Party. Well, it’s everywhere that I think it’s one of our national dishes. The word satay itself refers to skewered grilled meat. Satay is normally served with sauce here. It’s very common to serve it with peanut sauce, but sometimes they serve it with yellow spicy Padang sauce. The meat itself could be chicken, beef, lamb, pork, or even rabbit. If you come to Indonesia, there’s no way you miss this one. Do not ever as it tasted sooo good! It usually costs you $1 – $2 for a portion of satay. Coming to Indonesia? Make sure you don’t miss those foods!

About The Writer

Campuhan Ridge

Sharon Loh is an undergraduate student in Bandung, Indonesia. She has been slowly travelling and exploring more kind of foods since October 2012. And her obsession with travel and food grows even stronger ever since. Her blog, Sharon Travelogue, tells them all. Find her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!

What’s your favourite Indonesian dish?

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69 Comments

  • Congealed blood is something us Brits know quite a bit about, it is part of black/white pudding that you find with the traditional cooked English breakfast.

    I’ve never been to Indonesia but have heard wonderful things about how friendly the people are. These food delights are certainly another great appeal for taste and budget. I really enjoyed my experience of Malay food, I wonder if these taste similar?

    • Oh you guys have congealed blood for breakfast? I have never heard that, but sure it’s interesting to try.

      Yup it’s similar, but Malay food has a wider variety of Chinese and Indian which is hardly be found here. But the Melayu food tasted almost the same.

      Beef Rendang is one of my favorite Indo / Malay food!

  • There is so much good to be had in Indonesia and it’s so affordable in most cases. I loved ordering nasi campur because you always get such a nice assortment of dishes and every place is a little bit different.

    I definitely think that anyone interesting in affordable eating should definitely check out Padang restaurants when in Indonesia. It’s a bit like a buffet where there are a variety of dishes pre-prepared that you simply point at and choose. From beef rendang to chicken curry to awesome tempeh and other veggie dishes, you can have a great meal for about $1 (if you stick to veggie) or about $3 if you want meat. And because there are so many dishes to choose from, you’re guaranteed to never have the same meal twice (though it will always be delicious!).

    • I couldn’t agree more! Nasi Padang is definitely one of my favorite. Especially the ‘kerupuk jangek’ which is served together with curry sauce. Yum.

      And of course, cassava leaves with spicy sambals.

      Ah you make me hungry!

  • this is so true! i have been living in Indonesia for 2o years and exploring the foods but it never ends. They all are so delicious and have that strong taste for each, well especially the sambal.

    Your blog so awesome. Everytime i see the food,i just get hungry nyam! gonna visit your blog more often now ! ^^

    • Karen, what a great news! I’m flying to Indonesia in 4 weeks and knowing the food is healthy, delicious and yet cheap makes me a happy girl!

  • I still have to visit Indonesia and taste the local food, from the above I wouldn’t mind trying the Ketan Bakar with sauteed grated coconut. I love sticky rice and stuffed with coconut sounds simply delicious to me.

  • Fantastic post, Sharon, and you have my taste buds running in high gear now! I like how you emphasized the food being “authentic and fresh”. That only enticed my appetite more! I’m a huge fan of duck but I could absolutely eat Satay alllll day long! Thank you for sharing your friend with us, Agness! :)

    • Thank you Mike!

      It takes me quite a long to write the post since I always get hungry writing it – then I decided to go out for some meal instead of continue writing. Lol.

      Thank you soooo much for reading, Mike! Hope to have you here in Indonesia soon!

    • Sura, Yara!

      There’s this famous Indonesian dish called “Gado Gado”. It’s basically fresh boiled veggies served with peanut sauce. I don’t know exactly what they put in the sauce but it really complements the veggies well!

      Indonesian usually have Gado Gado for breakfast. And expats call it Indonesian Salad ;)

      You can also eat Ketan Bakar (grilled sticky rice) since it doesn’t contain meat at all.

  • Great article – some things I need to try next time in Indonesia. When I was there last year I thought I wouldn’t like the chicken satay as I’m not a huge fan of things like peanut butter, but I was surprised how much more subtle the satay is. Now I miss it!

    • Yes, definitely. Same here! I add some peanut butter to my oatmeal every morning and peanut butter sandwiches with chopped bananas are my favourite!

    • Hahaha don’t worry, it doesn’t taste like a creamy peanut butter. Trust me, it’s a perfect sauce for satay! Satay and peanut sauce should be on top of your list when visiting Indonesia ;)

    • I had a few Indonesian dishes, but they were all served in China so I can’t really say much about its cuisine right now, but it will all change in 4 weeks when I finally make it to Indonesia.

    • I’m pretty sure you will! I’ve been living here for 21 years but the foods never gets boring. They are just sooo many of them, and each of them has a unique taste.

      Ah. They are just too good! :)

  • Yummmmmm I LOVE Indonesian food! For experimentation, Makasan Padang from West Sumatra is amazing, but get there early in the morning while it’s fresh (as far as I know, most places only cook once a day!!).
    For comfort food, I love Satay and Nasi Campur. And Nasi Goreng!! I had the most amazing Nasi Goreng ever in Moni, Flores in 2009!! Lots of prawns and kecap manis!! :D

      • I love Indonesian food!! And I love Indonesia! I’d love to go back there some time soon… you’ll have a great time for sure!!! :)

    • Tha’t sooooo true! :D About the Masakan Padang (Padang Cuisine). They cooked allll the dishes early in the morning. Then, when you come to the restaurant, they’ll just put a bunch of plate containing all the dishes they have left on your table. You pay what you eat. Then the untouched foods will be returned back to the kitchen and served for someone else.
      It freaks me out at the first time, but hell, they tasted SO good.

      Wow you do love nasi goreng? I do too! Except my mom’s nasi goreng. It’s just awful. (Sorry mom)

      • Ohhhh no I’m sorry to hear about your mum’s nasi goreng!!! And yeah – when I visited Padang, my friend and I ate lunch at 8am, so that we would be the first people in the restaurant!!!! The taste is amazing though – they must use really different spices or techniques…

  • Everything here looks so delicious! I’m not familiar with Indonesian food except for the satay. Surprisingly, I haven’t been to an Indonesian restaurant here in very ethnic Southern California. Now, I need to search for one. I see some similarities with Filipino and Malaysian food. The ketan bakar looks great. It’s so great that they’re cheap. Great post and you’ve made me very hungry :)

    • Hi Mary!

      Yes, it’s incredibly cheap right? I was surprised when I first bought my ketan bakar. I thought I heard it wrong!

      Do they have Indonesian restaurant there in Southern California? You might also like Beef Rendang. Malaysian restaurant usually serve it as well. :)

  • It’s a bad idea reading this post on an empty stomach! Those dishes all look delicious and I’m salivating. I like the assortment of dishes you presented from different region. I definitely would love to visit to Indonesia for culinary venture.

  • It’s in the middle of the night here, and I’m hungry! :-/

    Love everything on the list, especially BPK! :9
    In the past, I like to go with friends to a nearby Batak traditional warong (lapok) nearby to eat this BPK!! Haha …

    • Yay, thanks kak Aggy!

      There are a loooot of foods I’d like to write about, but then the article would be too long. Didn’t even write my favorite Iga Penyet and Bakso! Hiks.

  • I visited Indonesia a couple of times; besides the delicious food and the beautiful tourist spots, I really enjoyed my trip without panicking if I have enough money to go home after. It really is affordable and I recommend it for first time travelers.

    • Hey Pamela. Great to hear that. We’re going to Indonesia for two weeks in exactly 10 days so I’m happy to hear it’s an affordable country to dine out. We’re real food monsters!

  • It gets sub-10 $? You are really sophisticated in budget travel ;)
    If one could manage overall expenses under 10 $ for an entire day, now that would be awesome… accommodation and transportation excluded, of course.

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