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Indonesian food is rich with flavors and spices. Indonesian food benefited from its influences resulting from its historical trade routes. There are many others less spicy food for sensitive stomaches.

Each island has its own regional variations. In Sumatra, many spices like chilies, and coconut milk are used, and these ingredients cause rich flavor in their dishes. In contrast, Javanese food tastes sweet, but the taste is no less incredible.

Some of the famous Indonesian dishes are Sate, Soto, Bakso, and Nasi Padang. To make things more interesting, each of these famous dishes have its own local variants. All of these dishes are found in streets food stalls called Kaki Lima (five feet) warungs. Locals call them AMIGOS which stands for Agak MInggir GOt Sedikit (a bit on the edge, near the gutter). Most food warungs are clean. Check to make sure they have running water and boiled tea. You will be just fine. They are the cheapest places to eat and simply watch where the locals gather. That warung will have the best food on that street.

Ask most Indonesian, they will say their favorite dish is Sate. What is Sate? Sate is skewered pieces of meat usually chicken, beef, or mutton. The skewered meats are grilled on an open charcoal and served with soy and peanut sauce. In West Sumatra, Sate is made from beef, and the sauce is spicier. Most eat Sate with Lontong instead of rice. Prices vary from IDR 6000 – 7000 a portion at a warung. A little more up market is the Senayan Sate restaurant.

Soto, is one of my favorites. Soto is a soup made from chicken or beef, mixed with rice noodles, potatoes, boiled eggs, fried onions, and spices. Prices vary from IDR 6000 – IDR 15000, depending on where you eat. Soto in Indonesia is rich with variation, the name is different in different provinces. This includes Soto Sulung, Soto Betawi, Soto Banten, and other Sotos too numerous to mention. The difference is in the broth. Soto Betawi uses coconut milk in the broth, while Soto Sulung does not. They all taste great, and safe for the sensitive stomachs. If you like it spicier, simply add home-made chili that is served with the dish.

Gado-gado. It is a vegetarian dish and no meat is used. It is an Indonesian traditional salad. The vegetables are boiled, cut and mixed with peanut sauce. The sauce in Gado-gado and Sate is different, because of different spices, although they may look the same. Vegetarian friends of ours say that they are happy to eat Gado-gado throughout their trip in Indonesia. Vegetables include Morning Glory, Collies, Cabbage, Long Beans, Corn, fried tofu, fried tempeh, and boiled egg. Normal prices are IDR 5000 – 10000.

Bakso (meatballs) are always found in push carts. Made from beef mixed with flour and then boiled, Bakso is served hot with vegetables and tofu or pangsit (Chinese dumplings). Prices are IDR 5000 – IDR 7000 in push carts. Bakso can also be made from chicken and seafood. In Bali, Bakso is sometime made from Pork. Baso Malang Karapitan is a good Baso restaurant to try.

Most Indonesian does not eat pork. But in some parts of Indonesia, pork is the speciality. In North Sumatra for example, in Tanah Batak, you will find Saksang. It is pork served with pork blood sauce. It may sounds strange, but it does taste yummy. And Pork with Rica-rica sauce in the northern part of Sulawesi is spicy and compliments plain rice. Bali is famous for its Babi Guling, which is not unlike a Hawaiian version of a Spit Roast suckling pigs.

One important tip when you go to a Padang restaurant. After you are seated, boys will put at least 20 different dishes of foods in front of you. You won’t pay for them all, you just need to pay what you eat.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Indonesian food is a riot of colors and tastes. Bottled water is cheap and available everywhere. Tropical fruit juices are always fresh and you will find beer in some restaurants. Special non alcoholic drinks include Wedang Jahe (Ginger drink), Soda Gembira (condensed milk with soda), Bandrek (Hot ginger tea with condiments). Alcoholic drinks include Tuak, Inti sari, Arak, Berem Bali. The locals will tell you where and how. Forget the diet, come eat and drink in Indonesia.

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