Growing up in Central Java during the 80s and 90s, I have serious hankerings for cheap, tasty Indonesian food, and something beyond the mie/nasi goreng
on offer. The thing about Indonesian food is that with so many ethnic groups, there is so much variety in food. In Solo, we went out for
speciality soto ayam (chicken noodle soup) at 6am, then traipsed across town to sit on the footpath for nasi liwet at 10pm. Everything was hawker styles,
cheap as chips and delicious. Since then, life seems to revolve around where to score quality, affordable Indonesian food. Happy days abounded in Bali
with nasi ayam, (mixed lemongrass chilli chicken and rice) babi guling (grilled pork) and sop kepala ikan (fish head soup). Now that we call Kuta Lombok
home, I'm starting to find out a few more places. Times are a changing, and Kuta now has an increasing number of Indonesian focused cafes, food
stalls and street carts. In this blog, I'll share with you our family's top picks for authentic Indonesian food in cafe style places you can safely
take your visiting parents to and have chillis as an optional on the side, if the guts isn't quite Indofied enough yet.
Sunny Days is a hidden gem in front of the grafittied shipwreck between the market and the fishing village. This open style resto is run by the wonderful
Nurmin and her talented kitchen staff and open lunch and dinner. Don't be put off if it's quiet; its definitely not on the tourist map but a
favourite with the expats who live here. The menu is small with only 6 or 7 dishes, but order anything and you can't go wrong. For those of you who
are still stuck on mie or nasi goreng, these are well represented. But branch out and try something else! The beef rendang (slowly simmered spicy
dry beef curry) is fragrant with cloves and cinnamon. The chicken satay and peanut sauce authentic, and the chicken curry full of spices and taste.
Everything comes with white rice, sayur lawar (steamed vegetables mixed with roasted grated coconut) and corn fritters. We are huge fans of
these corn fritters (pergedel jagung) which are perfectly flavoured with lime leaves and we always ask for extra! Nurmin also makes a delicious
chicken in soy sauce and a spicy sayur tumis (stirfried beansprouts and spinach) with teri (small fried fish) which is not actually part of the menu,
but also a firm favourite of many regulars. Bintang is on the menu, as well as fresh es jeruk (orange juice).
Approaching the Kuta beachfront, turn right and Tasty Hesty's is on the 2nd floor, about 50 meters down, right before Doyok's Homestay. Climb up
the staircase and be met by ocean breeze and views over Kuta Bay. Tasty Hesty's is a small family business, run by the ever smiling Bayu
front of house and staffed by his aunty Hesty in the kitchen. Bayu is a delight; guitar is usually in hand, and serenades and dittis a plenty, making
Tasty Hesty's one of the happiest places in town. The menu is cutely hand drawn, lending to the overall feel of being at a mate's place for lunch.
Long wooden benches and tables complete the feel. As for the food, it is all delicious. We always order the chicken curry, black pepper beef and delicious
grilled fish. And when I'm under the weather, I order the chicken soup or tom yum to go, and tuck myself back up in bed with their bowls of goodness.
In early March, I even noticed some nyale seaworms cooked up, the speciality of Seger Beach and part of the local legend of Mandalika. And they will
cook for your special event or if you have a pre-booking, like one very successful staff dinner we had there. Whole grilled mahi-mahi, plates
laden with stirfried vegetables, and fresh chilli squid. Nothing is a problem for these guys, so whatever your needs, go see the good guys up
here. And the portions are huge! Very reasonably priced too.
A very recent discovery and a very happy one! Mia-Mia's Kitchen is right next to Palate Restaurant (Pipedream's Resort). It has become a regular
post surf spot for us, and the food is consistently good. Its quite a good sized menu with western offerings as well (the chicken cashew fettucini
is yummy), but we go straight for the Indo dishes, actually, the curry (fish, chicken or vegetarian - love them all) every time. Thick, coconut creamy
sauce full of flavour and spices. Also high on the list is the ayam taliwang, the traditional grilled chicken of Lombok. This is super yummy
here, with an incredible sauce on it (spicy Dabu sace) on a bed of water spinach and rice to enjoy it with. Gado-gado, the well known Indonesian cooked
salad, which is usually made up of steamed vegetables like potatoes, cabbage, spinach, bean-sprouts and beans, tofu and tempe, as well as a peanut
sauce. Highly recommended for those who are not meat fans.
There are of course many more delicious Indonesian offerings in town, like those found at higher end accommodation places, like Jivana Resort's amazing
mahi-mahi fillet (Lombok style), Puri Rinjani Hotel's rendang spring rolls, or Palate's exceptional rendang. In the next food blog, I'll take
you on an explore of the other end of the spectrum; the best nasi campur places in town; we are still researching!