Donna said that her cooking skills and food preparation greatly improved when she moved to Indonesia three years ago.  It was the wide variety of ingredients and styles that inspired her to experiment and explore…

Donna’s memorable beef dish with bok choy (or Chinese cabbage), along with her awesome chicken barbeque at Pelabuhan Ratu…

“South Beach Diet? Ano yun?” : Grilled seafood for the next day…shrimps and fish, all freshly caught from Teluk Pelabuhan Ratu…served with steaming white rice.  And don’t forget the condiment: sambal oelek (crushed red chili sauce) combined with kecap manis (which I often mistook as ketchup mansi–ano ba yan?) which is a dark sweet soy sauce…dip anything in it and you won’t remember what a south beach diet is because definitely… mapaparami ang rice mo.

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Remember Anthony Bordain’s No Reservations episode on Indonesia?  Well, after watching that, you gotta try the Masakan Padang experience:

Going up to Bandung, we stopped by one of the many masakan padang eateries along the road: Sarigucci (Ha? biglang naging Italian?) Our waiter prepares the food for us.  He got all these dishes, balancing them in his hands and arms, and serving them almost immediately on our table– giving a new (or old?) meaning to the fast food concept sans the plastic utensils, wrappers and styropor–all warm and ready to be consumed (below).

…And no need to take our orders, too! Our waiter started counting and calcuting what we ate (above right).  We will only pay for what we touched.  “Even if we only got a tiny portion of it?” Yes, somehow he knows.  Oooh…we were impressed.

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Going around Java at that time (which was the height of the supposedly Asia-wide rice shortage issue), it was hard to believe that there was any shortage at all… nagpaloko na naman ba tayo?

Anyway, the Sundanese of West Java take pride in their food.  And it revolves around their main staple (and ours as well) which is rice.  As they say, “If you haven’t eaten rice, then you haven’t eaten at all.” Hear, hear! We sat on the floor, Sundanese style, and ate with our fingers (well, I did!).  At right is our Sundanese feast from Balibu, a resto just across from our hotel.

Here are the culinary delights (and adventures) we had in Bandung:

Nasi timbel is rice steamed in banana leaf.  These are from Kampung Daun, an alfresco-style garden restaurant.  These can be  accompanied with krupuk, tempeh (fried tofu) and vegetables.

Ikan Goreng or fried fish: the left version is from Balibu while right photo is from Kampung Daun.   The Sundanese may not live near the sea but when they do get to cook and present a fish dish, they still intend to impress.  I’m not sure what they are but I’m guessing that one of them is carp.  The condiment that goes well with ikan goreng is made of chili, garlic, soy sauce, tomatoes, shallots, etc.

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At Rumah Mode, a sort of like a small Greenbelt in Bandung…we ate in a restaurant called Bumbu Desa. Just point and they’ll heat them up for you:

We chose green terong (green salad), fried tempeh, more nasi timbel, and some really exotic stuff that I can’t remember…

…To be continued: desserts, beverages, and some more pahabol…

Next Post: Indo-xicating Eats (Part 3)