Hearty nasi padang, savoury rawon (Javanese beef stew), and volcanic sambal - what's not to love about Indonesian food?
With so many of us having friends and family in the Indonesian Archipelago, the locals don't stand for watered down sop buntut (oxtail soup) or below-average tauhu, and it takes some real big bakso to serve up less-than-ideal chilli.
Whether you've visited the legendary Pondok Pak Wah in Bedok South or just started getting into Indonesian food, we've rounded up some of the best restaurants for authentic Indonesian cuisine and no, they aren't all at Lucky Plaza.
BEBEK GORENG PAK NDUT
We've heard plenty of good things about Lucky Plaza's Bebek Goreng Pak Ndut, dishing out Indo classics like Crispy Fried Chicken (SGD$7.90) and Gado Gado (SGD$7.90), as well as their signature Original Crispy Duck with Rice (SGD$9.90). Singapore might not be known by our neighbours for having the spiciest food, inside sources tell us that Bebek's chilli can break even the most undaunted pepper munchers into a sweat. For a little relief, crack into their icy rendition of local ice kachang with an Ice Campur (SGD$3.90).
Bebek Goreng Pak Ndut is located at #01-42/43/44 304 Lucky Plaza, 304 Orchard Road, Singapore 238863, p.+ 6734 4787. Opens from Mondays to Sundays from 11am - 10pm.
Another local favourite with sambal that won approval with the Indonesian community, Tambuah Mas has spent a good part of almost 40 years dishing out Padang, Sulawesi and Javanese dishes in Singapore.
You'll get as close as possible to an authentic experience with closely-guarded family recipes, and their "golden service" aims to make every trip here feel like coming home. Try the fried chicken in the Ayam Goreng Istimewa or chicken simmered in coconut milk (also known as kalio) in Kari Ayam. Don't forget to get their take on the Cendol for dessert too.
Tambuah Mas is located at 19 Tanglin Road, #04-10, Singapore 247909, p.+65 6733 3333, or 290 Orchard Road, #B1-44, Singapore 238859, p.+65 6733 2220. Opens from Mondays to Sundays, from 11am - 10pm. Chope link only available for Tangling outlet.
TOK TOK INDONESIAN SOUP HOUSE
Whether it's the bustling shopping mecca of 313@Somerset or amidst the watering holes at Ann Siang Hill, Tok Tok delivers warm bowls of comfort that can heat up even the coldest of hipster hearts.
The folks here strive to keep with the old-timey feel, with a warung-like ambience and no-fuss food. Get some bakso (fried beef meatballs, essentially) in your belly with Bakso Penyet (SGD$7.80), or soothe your spirit with Sop Buntut (SGD$9.50), a delicious oxtail soup.
The same makers are also due to open a new concept at Jewel Changi Airport.
Tok Tok Indonesian Soup House is located at 313 Orchard Road, #B3-10, 313@Somerset, Singapore 238895, p.+65 6334 1501 or 18 Ann Siang Road, #01-01, Singapore 069698, p.+65 6221 1760. Opens Mondays to Sundays from 11am - 10pm (Orchard Road) and 11am - 9pm (Ann Siang Road).
After opening a succession of franchises in Indonesia and Kuala Lumpur, Sari Ratu's second outlet at Lucky Plaza has had roaring success. With specialities like Paru Goreng (fried beef lung) and Sayur Nanka (young jackfruit in gravy), Sari Ratu aptly describes itself as a "casual fine dining restaurant", with freshly prepared ingredients and kampong chicken. Bento sets offer up to six items for SGD$15.
Sari Ratu Singapore is located at 20 Pahang Street, Singapore 198617, p.+65 6294 9983, or 304 Orchard Road, #02-107 Lucky Plaza, Singapore 238863, p.+65 6294 9983. Opens Mondays to Sundays, 10am - 9pm at Pahang Street and 11am - 9pm at Lucky Plaza.
Cumi Bali's food is a symphony of spiced curios, from 13-spiced fried beancurd in the Tauhu Tempe, to the Ikan Bakar, tender-grilled fish smothered in 18 different spices. And this is because the traditional practice of preparing spice blends, or bumbu, is what makes Indonesian food distinct from its Malayan counterparts, and their spicy belachan is ground up daily using a top-secret recipe that'll have steam pouring from your ears.
Cumi Bali Indonesian Restaurant is located at 66 Tg Pagar Road, Singapore 088487, p.+65 6220 6619. Opens Mondays to Fridays from 11.30am - 2.30pm and 6pm - 9.30pm, Saturdays from 12pm - 2.30pm and 6pm - 9.30pm, and Sundays from 6pm - 9.30pm.
PAGI SORE INDONESIAN RESTAURANT
Javanese eatery Pagi Sore has come a long way from its nasi padang roots, 24 years ago. Helmed by Executive Chef Ms Liyana Kwan, Pagi Sore serves up original recipes from her travels and research in Indonesia. Expect authentic Indonesian food signatures - Ikan Otah Kukus (SGD$28.50), whole fish steamed in an otah-based gravy, and Terung Tau Chio (SGD$8.80/$10.80), brinjal topped with a salted bean sauce and a personal favourite of Chef Kwan.
Pagi Sore Indonesian Restaurant is located at 100 Tras Sreet, #02-28, 100AM, Amara Shopping Center, Singapore 079027, p.+65 6636 1373. Opens from Mondays to Saturdays, from 11am - 9.30pm.
Started by the same folks behind Padang Padang and winners of Food Republic's Hawker King Challenge, IndoChili has been popular for their traditional Maduranese delicacies. Standout favourites include the Sate Ayam Madura (SGD$7.80) and Sop Buntat (SGD$14.50), known for succulent oxtail suspended in light and fragrant broth.
IndoChili is located at Zion Park, Tanjong Pagar and Science Park.
Contemporary chic ambience and port side views aren't all that Bay Hotel Singapore has to offer - Rumah Rasa delivers traditional Indonesian fare and piping hot meals from 6am to 3am every day, so you're all set from breakfast to supper and right back round. With breakfast and weekend lunch buffets, and live dinner barbeques on Fridays and Saturdays, get on the luxe side of Indonesian cuisine with Pepes Salmon (SGD$9.90) and whole-grilled sea bass in a herb medley in Ikan Kakap Cianjor (SGD$28.90).
Rumah Rasa is located at 50 Telok Blangah Road, Singapore 098828, p.+65 6818 6681. Opens from Mondays to Sundays from 6am - 3am.
THE RICETABLE INDONESIAN RESTAURANT
The Ricetable has been a favourite to those who enjoy having their food tapas style, with a price-per-head charge of $18.95 nett for lunch and $29.55 nett for dinner. A fixed menu with an unlimited top-up of food, serving up an average of 15 to 20 dishes that run the gamut of staple items, perfect for those who've not yet had a taste of the full spectrum of Indonesian cuisine. Most who tried highly recommend getting seconds on the Grilled Chicken, Tahu Telor and Beef Rendang.
The Ricetable Indonesian Restaurant is located at 360 Orchard Road, #02-09/10 International Building, Singapore 238869, p.+65 6835 3782. Opened from Mondays to Saturdays for lunch at 12pm - 2.15pm and dinner from 6pm - 9.15pm. Closed Sundays.
This article was first published in City Nomads.