Indonesia is a gastronomer’s paradise, with a wealth of traditional dishes to tantalise the taste buds, from the ubiquitous nasi goring (fried rice) and mie goring (fried noodle) to the peanut sauce and steamed vegetable feast that is gado gado and beef rendang that will have you begging for seconds.
On Bali, where tourism reigns supreme, traditional food is everywhere but you can also buy fresh French baguettes, sirloin steaks and meat pies, if you’re hanging for a taste of home.
Meanwhile, in Sumatra, the cuisine changes noticeably, with restaurants displaying windows full of small dishes loaded with steamed vegetables, prawns, tuna steaks, garlic potatoes and grilled chicken. Just point to the dishes that take your fancy and they’ll be served up with a bowl full of steamed rice.
While most Indonesians have a simple breakfast of steamed rice with vegetables, you’ll be hard pressed to ignore plentiful servings of banana pancakes and fresh fruit salad for your morning meal, washed down with thick sweetened Indonesian coffee.
Bintang is Indonesia’s most popular and best loved beer — you’ll see the label printed on a thousand and one $2 T-shirts for sale in every clothing shop. It’s a good drop too, especially compared to arak, the local spirit, which packs quite a punch and is guaranteed to give you one hell of a hangover. You’ll find arak for sale in bottles or, if you’re on a budget, you can buy it in sealed plastic bags. Mix it with Red Bull or soft drink to make it bearable.
NB – Officially the legal drinking age is 21 but…
As for everyday drinks, the tap water in virtually all of Indonesia is below par and it is always advisable to drink bottled water, which is cheap as chips and available everywhere — otherwise there’s every chance you’ll experience the dreaded ‘Bali belly’.