|FOOD OF INDONESIA
The staple diet for most Indonesians is nasi (rice), which is replaced on some islands with corn, sago, cassava and sweet potatoes. Indonesia’s spices make its local cuisine unique. Indonesians like their food highly spiced – look out for the tiny and fiery hot red and green peppers often included in salads and vegetable dishes. Seafood is excellent and features highly on menus (with salt and freshwater fish, lobsters, oysters, prawns, shrimp, squid, shark and crab all available). Coconuts are often used for cooking. Vegetables and fruit, such as bananas, pineapple and oranges,
are available throughout the year; some tropical fruits such as mango, watermelon and papaya are seasonal. A feature of Jakarta is the many warungs (street stalls); each specializes in its own dish or drink.
• Rijsttafel (a Dutch-invented smorgasbord of 12 various meat, fish, vegetable and curry dishes,
sometimes served by 12 ‘maidens’).
• Sate (chunks of beef, fish, pork, chicken or lamb cooked on hot coals and dipped in peanut sauce).
• Rendang (west Sumatra; buffalo coconut curry).
• Gado-gado (Java; a salad of raw and cooked vegetables with peanut and coconut milk sauce).
• Babi guling (Bali; roast suckling pig).
• Es (ice drinks with syrups, fruits and jellies).
• Brem (Bali; rice wine).
• Tuak (palm-sap wine, a famously potent local brew).
• Arak (rice or palm-sap wine).
• Kelapa muda (young coconut juice).
Legal drinking age: 18 (minimum purchasing age: 16).
Tipping: 10% is normal.
Dining in Jakarta
Not surprisingly, there are many restaurants you can find around the various shopping places around Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. While your hands are busy flipping the dresses that you want to try on, or you feast your eyes on the beautiful painting collections, your stomach will soon remind you that it has been forsaken for quite some time. And it will guide you, maybe unconsciously, to the closest sources of appetizing aroma of sate or soto. Thus the existence of food courts in most of these shopping malls. I personally like these food courts - they are fast and convenient and, most of the time, offer delicious Indonesian food at a nice locations and enjoyable environment. However, if your authenticity meter still beeps and you desire more authentic food, short of asking to be invited to your new Indonesian friends' house to enjoy their grandmothers' cooking, you can venture into the warung or street vendors. I must warn you though, this is certainly not for people with weak stomachs. If your home country's sterile preparation of food has pampered you for your entire life, your stomach might react with something stronger than a thunderous Wagner opera when it encounters these foods. But, if you can stomach it, you can find some of the best of Indonesia's culinary creations on the streets and they are very inexpensive. Some of the best include the sate on Jl. Sabang in the middle of the city, toasted bread with chocolate sprinkles at midnight around Blok M, or somay from a mobile cart.
Jakarta nightclubs feature international singers and bands and are open until 0400 during weekends. Jakarta has loads of cinemas and some English-language and subtitled films are shown. There are also casinos, and theaters providing cultural performances. Dancing is considered an art, encouraged and practiced from very early childhood. The extensive repertoire is based on ancient legends and stories from religious epics. Performances are given in village halls and squares, and also in many of the leading hotels by professional touring groups. The dances vary enormously, both in style and number of performers. Some of the more notable are the Legong, a slow, graceful dance of divine nymphs; the Baris, a fast moving, noisy demonstration of male, warlike behavior; and the Jauk, a riveting solo offering by a masked and richly costumed demon. Many consider the most dramatic of all to be the famous Cecak (Monkey Dance) which calls for 100 or more very agile participants. Many of the larger hotels, particularly in Bali, put on dance shows accompanied by the uniquely Indonesian Gamelan Orchestras.
Throughout the year, many local moonlight festivals occur; tourists should check locally. Indonesian puppets are world famous and shows for visitors are staged in various locations.
Places to Eat in the Gili Islands