Eating local Indonesian food in Yogyakarta wasn't my priority when I visited this culturally rich city. I was supposed to catch the sunrise at the Majestic Candi Borobudur Temple, take a picture of myself at Prambanan temple and meet my cousin who lives there. But Yogyakarta offered much more, I learned the art of batik making, visited the Keraton palace and the mystique Taman Sari water castle, the royal bathing complex.
I also re-discovered the much loved traditional Indonesian food.
Tasting Yogyakarta Culture In 10 Local Indonesian Food
Here are some of the traditional Indonesian food that is famous in Yogyakarta which has been the local favorites for generations:
Nasi Kucing (Cat Rice)
I have been begging my cousin, to take me to eat nasi kucing, translated literally as "cat rice." He didn't understand my fascination towards the "cat rice." "It's just a mini-sized meal, the size you feed to a cat, hence the name", he explained.
It didn't matter, I was curious, and I still wanted to try it, but he never took me to it eat. In his defense, he has taken me to eat plenty of other types of food to make up for it. Oh well...
I finally got to try it in Yogyakarta! Nasi Kucing or Sego Kucing as the locals call it was exactly what they told me, a mini-sized meal. It contained a small portion of rice, 7 pieces of stir-fried tempeh, 10 pieces of chili anchovy, and a pinch of sambal (chili paste).
Indonesian Food Tempeh ( fried fermented soybean cake)
I also had Tempeh Mendoan whilst in Yogyakarta. Tempeh is a fried fermented soybean cake. It is eaten while it's still hot together with a small bite of chili padi and usually during tea time. This snack is famous all over Java island. We have it rather regularly in the office, usually right after office hours to gear up to do some overtime. There were even times when we served this Indonesian local snack to foreign colleagues during regional meetings.
Ayam Bakar (Sweet Grilled Chicken)
Yogyakarta grilled chicken is considerably sweeter than Jakarta's which might be a good thing if spicy is not really your thing. Unfortunately, this meant it's not something I would like to try again.
Indonesian Food - Gudeg
Gudeg is a traditional Yogyakarta food loved by my Indonesian friends. It's a coconut milk based dish made by stewing jackfruit with various local spices for hours. It's the single must eat Indonesian food when you visit Yogyakarta. Though I appreciated, similar to the grilled chicken above, it was too sweet for my chili-loving taste bud.
Mie Ayam Jogja (Yogyakarta roadside Chicken Noodle)
Mie Ayam is the quintessential Indonesian street food. The taste slightly varies in each city and the Mie Ayam Jogja is one of my favorites Indonesian food.
Nasi goreng (Fried Rice)
Speaking of favorites, nasi goreng might hold the first position in the list for foreigners. Indonesian fried rice delightfully served with egg, meat, crackers and various side dishes. You can get it 24-7 as most Indonesian food stalls have it on their menu or if you feeling particularly lazy, dial your room-service and voila your nasi goreng is here!
Indonesian Food - Jamu
Jamu is the Indonesian traditional herbal drinks. It was considered a staple in every Indonesian kitchen back in time. It's equivalent to resume in the South Indian kitchen or maybe the ginseng soup in Korean's. There is a wide variety of jamu which suppose to cure most of the health problems. And for this reason, Mama Kween used to force feed me jamu at least once a week when I was younger.
For someone who loves spices infused drinks, including ginger tea and mulled wine, I don't know why I am not a big fan of jamu. Maybe I should give it another try as an adult. Would you?
Indonesian Food - Virgin Milk
My friends told me to go to House of Raminten while in Yogyakarta. Their actual advice was "You must try the virgin milk in the House of Raminten!". Virgin milk? Err... We had Susu Perawan Tancep (literal translation: the virgin milk) served in boobies cups. It contained milk, obvs, and some local herbs. The taste was similar to masala tea, my cousins liked it, but I didn't. To each his own boobs I guess.
Kopi Joss (Charcoal Coffee)
Kopi Joss, as the locals fondly called it, is a cup of coffee with pieces of hot charcoal inside. Why would they do that? To lower the caffeine level, which helps to cure minor stomach issues. But, I think it might also have to do with keeping the coffee warm.
I ordered a glass and shared it with my cousins on a rainy night while sitting and eating another round of "cat rice" at the famous roadside food stall called Angkringan Lek Man. The coffee tasted okay, not as bad as it looked, and kinda like chocolate milk. We spent less than $1 each for a mini meal and a drink. That's the beauty of the roadside Indonesian food stall aka angkringan in Yogyakarta.
All kind of Sambal (Chilli paste condiments)
Sambal is the quintessential condiment which accompanied almost all Indonesian food. It's made of a variety of chilli (but not always with chilli) together with other ingredients, depending on the region in Indonesia. Sambal enhances the flavour of the food and quite easy to make. You can DIY within minutes with a few spices in your kitchen in whenever you need it. And I honestly can't remember the last time I eat Indonesian food without sambal on the side. It's the key to enjoy your Indonesian food.
It's hard to find unpalatable food in Indonesia, as most of the dishes are absolutely delicious, so don't miss out on Indonesian food the next time you visit Indonesia.