Dine Like Locals: Understanding The Indonesian Eating Routine
Eating out is a custom while you can save money as interns
Eating is one of the most important daily activities; especially when you are staying abroad for work or vacation, eating habits will experience changes. Take advantage while being abroad in Bali to try many different kinds of the country's staple dishes. Indonesia is a country known for its diverse culture, food, and unique eating habits. Here we give some insightful tips on how to dine like the locals during your stay. You will gain a lot of social knowledge and actually save more money during your internship. Here goes!
Daily Food + Dish To Try
Similar to the rest of SouthEast Asia, rice and noodles formed a huge backbone to the food in Indonesia. Locals usually eat plain steamed rice with many other condiments; ranging from steamed vegetables to meat. They usually complement the whole flavor with hot 'sambal' sauce. This is deliberately optional as Indonesian sambal is usually too spicy for foreigners, but you are very welcome to try a bit. Pork-based menus are understandably scarce in many regions of Indonesia because of the country's Moslem believe. But in some regions like Bali where the majority are Hindu people, there are plenty of choices of pork goodness. One of the must-try Indonesian dishes is definitely 'tempe'. It has been considered a superfood in Western countries and can cost quite a fortune. But here in Indonesia, it is very easy to find tempe-based dishes everywhere, cooked in several indigenous styles.
Understanding the 'Warung' Concept
To start with the basics, Indonesian locals eat mostly in a ‘warung’. It is the equivalent of a small diner or restaurant. A warung can take various different shapes, from traditional wooden hut to the modern building, but all basically serve the menu in the same style. You will find several 'warung jawa' in any cities of Indonesia. This is not a restaurant brand name, but a type of popular ‘warung’ in the country, usually run by Javanese families. Here, they will usually give you a plate of hot steamed rice, and let you pick your own condiments from the display. Just point to whatever condiment and sambal sauce you like, and the clerk will combine the total price afterwards (they will usually ask about your drink right before you pay). The price will then be informed at the cashier, or some warung will give you a small Price Card that determines the amount you must pay after eating.
(A Very Simple) Meal Plan
As a student or intern, we understand that you have to save your money and plan your expenses. Having a simple meal plan can go a long way to ensure you have a convenient stay during your internship period. We really recommend you to eat at various local places on weekdays, at least every lunch. Feel free to try until you find a word that is most suitable to your taste. You can go to a more 'international' restaurant on the weekend with friends, or occasionally for weekday dinner. Indonesia actually has several alternatives of instant food for you to make yourself at your homestay. For one, we truly recommend the legendary Indomie instant noodle. It is cheap, delicious, and very easy to make. Just boil it in hot water and add the spice powder, voila! A bowl of internationally-acclaimed instant ramen ready to be savored! You can add some vegetables, meat or egg on Indomie to enhance the flavor. Lots of local Indonesians actually enjoyed two packs of Indomie at once. This makes a very good portion to fill you up whenever you want to save money for the weekend
As a global tourist destination, Bali has plenty of wide options of restaurants; ranging from the most local to lavish international ones. High-end international restaurants can cost you around IDR 80,000 to 200,000 per pax per dine. So we don't really recommend you to make this your daily eating habit. Instead, opt for the local warung and food stall, which will only range in IDR 10,000 to IDR 50,000 per meal. Of course the price may still vary according to what you order at local warung. But for the writer's personal experience, you can get an enormous portion just by spending around IDR 35,000 in a local ‘warung Jawa’. 'Enormous' by the means that the rice and condiments could barely fit in the plate! So eat considerately, and more importantly, by learning to eat like the locals regularly, you will have a bigger chance to interact with new people. This will open up new networks and opportunities for your future, and hey, it doesn't hurt to make new friends, right?
By Billy Bagus