I’m quite familiar with Balinese and Sumatran cuisines, but despite spending so much time in Java, I realised I hadn’t tried too much of its local food. When traipsing through Jalan Malioboro in Yogyakarta, which is the regency’s main thoroughfare, I got the chance to check out what kind of food was on offer.
When I’m travelling around Indonesia, I also make an effort to buy local food from street vendors known as warungs. These warungs serve up good quality homemade snacks, and larger warungs even have tables and chairs for you to enjoy your meal at. Amidst the controlled chaos of Malioboro Road in Yogyakarta, there were plenty of warungs to choose from!
Mie Basko is meatballs and noodles, and while this dish may sound simple enough, the version I had on Malioboro Road was extremely hot and spicy. Because it came from a warung, I didn’t get the chance to find out what was in it, but boy was it hard to eat! Still tasty, though! I also came across some fried bat, which I thought was a delicacy in Sulawesi (it is called “Paniki” over there), and I didn’t know it was eaten in this part of Java. I didn’t try it myself, but it seems it is very popular in Jogja too!
One thing that Jalan Malioboro is known for is its horse-drawn carts. I think they are mainly for the tourists that frequent this part of town (there are lots of hotels nearby), but even if you don’t want to ride yourself, you must agree that it is pretty cool watching these shire horses ply their trade as you sit by the road and enjoy a meal and a Bintang!
I am a huge lover of Indonesian chicken dishes, and ayam goreng (fried chicken) is among my favourites. It is a simple version of fried chicken but with extremely crispy skin and it is often cooked or marinated with sambal, which is a spicy condiment. My chicken may very well have been marinated in sambal, but in addition I was given a small bowl of sambal to further coat my meat! Although I usually baulk at spicy stuff, on this occasion I couldn’t resist – I love a good bit of ayam goreng! Gudeg is a weird dish, which is actually a local speciality of Yogyakarta, so I wanted to try it simply for that reason. It is made from unripe jackfruit and then boiled with coconut milk and lots of palm sugar. My gudeg was served to me sprinkled with plenty of galangal and with white rice, and presented on a banana leaf. It was another lovely meal!
Even if I wasn’t eating or buying, I still enjoyed looking around all the warungs and cafés in Jogja as it interests me to see what kind of food is available. It would be cool to stay in Jogja for even longer just to become immersed in Javanese cuisine. The people along Jalan Malioboro are very friendly and knowledgeable about their food, and they seem very interested in the fact that I was trying their cuisine for the first time!