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by Farah 'Fairy' Mahdzan (23-Mar-2002) | Readers Say
Whenever I tell people I plan to head out to Indonesia for a short vacation, they always scare me with stories about getting ill from food consumption, especially if I decide to eat at food stalls located by the sides of the road. As fascinating as Indonesia is as a country, I never hear too many favorable things from my friends who had visit when it came to talk about eating out. Our conversations about dining would be littered with words like "food poisoning," "outrageous hospital bills" and "3 days leave from work due to stomach cramps from eating at a fast food joint on Jalan Thamrin."
Of course everything was dependent on where you chose to eat, and my Indo friends had never brought and never will bring me to a food establishment where I'd be severely punished with diarrhea just for not questioning why our ice cubes were slightly beige in color. In fact some of them don't even take ice with their drinks, and we always buy drinks that come packaged in bottles. Just to be safe, I went ahead and had my Hepatitis A shot before I left for Jakarta in February; I do so want to enjoy Jakarta without worrying about running to the bathroom every hour after I had lunch or dinner. However most malls and nice restaurants are safe, as can be expected from high quality food establishments. It's the independent food stalls by the roadsides that you sometimes have to worry about.
But eating in Jakarta is really something, I find Indonesian food very tasty, although there is not much difference in Malaysian and Indonesian cuisine anyway. I guess it's tastier to my palate because I'm so bored of Malay food, and Indo food was just kicking my taste buds with flavors because they tend to use a lot more spices and marination. My favorite dish is sate kambing (you have no idea how good sate is until you've had Indonesian sate), and this Palembang dish called empek-empek.
Ordering food from the stalls here is not quite the same though as it is in Malaysia. So here I was with Evita at a food stall at TIM, all ready to order our food. So a waiter comes up to us, right, all ready with his little notepad and pen to majestically take down our orders (or so I thought).
Instead he sets the notepad and pen right next to me and I reciprocated by looking blankly at him, not sure what this all meant. Evita snickered, took the writing set away from me and started scribbling on the piece of paper as she refered to a menu in front of her. What? You're supposed to write down your own orders? What the heck are these guys here for then?, I thought, obviously stupified by this transaction. As soon as she was done, Evita handed our order to the guy, he looks at it, and proceeds to the kitchen where our lovely gourmet was to be born. As soon as the waiter was out of hearing range:
Me: Vi, kok gitu sih? (Malay: Kenapa macam tu pulak). Emang dia malas ngambil order kita gitu?
In essence Evita was saying that if you let these people take your orders, there was bound to be some correlation mistake in what they write down and what you actually wanted. So to avoid any mishaps (or law suits, if you really had to invoke one), waiters actually let you write down your own orders.
(Almost makes you want to stand up and give a standing ovation to the guys at the Malaysian mamak stalls for mentally taking down our orders and actually getting it right the first time around, doesn't it?)
Another rather unique dining experience I had was when I was super hungry after walking around Plaza Senayan (a cool mall) and we mindlessly walked into a Padang restaurant. Mind you I had never been to a Padang restaurant before, so this was quite new to me. After we sat down and had not even begin to develop a desire for eating, an entire troop of waiters armed with 3 plates of lauk on each side of their arms walked up to us in perfect unison and placed something like 20 different kinds of dishes in front of us. I clutched Evita's arm, wide-eyed as a toad, obviously not accustomed to this kind of treatment.
Me (gulping, nervously): Vi, I don't think we can pay for all of that. And when the heck did we order benda-benda nih?? We just got here, for goodness' sake. Did you make an advanced phone call and ordered or something??
So I later then learned that in Padang restaurants, the servers purposely come up to your table and present you with all these varieties of lauk to choose from for you to eat with your rice, and whatever lauk you take, you'll be charged for it. Whatever you don't take, will not be counted towards your bill.
In other words, Padang-dining is sort of like buffet-style of eating, but instead the food comes to you. So I took a dish of rendang and one sayur dish, just enough for the two of us. But be warned, if you so much as take a spoonful of gravy from another lauk, it will be considered as one dish by itself (because you contaminated its purity with your spoon!), regardless of whether you took nothing but kuah, so you might as well take a drumstick or a piece of beef from the lauk, kalau tak rugi nanti.
Hey, I absolutely love Indonesian way of eating, to hell with food poisoning. But dang that Padang restaurant sure overcharged us for teh botol.
|WHAT READERS SAY ABOUT Funny Indo Dining Experiences:|
#20. i spend two days reading ur articles.kyak g prcaya,km tu org mana, 'too obsessed' sm indonesia. km so inspiratif.slm kenal dr masisir (mahasiswa indonesia Mesir)..
Posted by ijal - Website on 31-Jul-2010, 02:15 MYT
#19. Teh botol kick A*s
#18. Teh Botol
#17. Kini Restoran Nasi Padang bukan saja terdapat di Indonesia. Di Malaysia pun ada...Jom ke Restoran Nasi Padang Ibu di Jesselton Point Sabah....enak sekali ....
#16. Kalo mau makan nasi padang yang enak dan murah ada di daerah Senen, Jakarta Pusat. Nasi Kapau ( Spesial dari Bukit Tinggi ). Begitu banyak pilihan disana.
#15. Yaaa.. pengalaman makan di sana enaak!! Nasi padang lain skli ngan yg ada di sini kat Johor..murah woo.. kuih muih pedas2 tapi aku pulun jer...besh Klu ada peluang aku nak gie lagi ke Jakarta harap2 bln Mac nie ada Java Jazz Festival... Yeaay lerh mkn lagie :p
#14. Hi HARDANNI, waktu saya pertama tulis artikel ini, teh botol belum ada di Malaysia. Sekarang di KL memang ada, di Chow Kit, Kampung Baru dan tempat2 lain yang sering dikunjungi orang Indonesia, apalagi di restoran Indonesia.
#13. Teh botol kat cow kit ada laaaah....aku biasa juga bei disana...enak banget kalo di masukkan almari es ( peti sejuk )....seger seger....sluurururur ppp...
#12. funny! I really wanna go to Jkt in december...
#11. Restoran padang paling enak di Jakarta namanya Natrabu, cuma bayarnya paling enak $$$$$ Kalau mau yang agak murah sikit, coba restoran Sederhana, tapi tetep aja lebih mahal dari warung padang pinggir jalan.
#10. Try Restoran Garuda (Makanan Minang/Padang)...
#9. waaaah teh botol addict!! just like me ^_^
#7. hi Fairy,
#6. Very good and funny story, Fai. You're such a talented story teller. I've read a few of 'em now and I got addicted already . Go Fairy.
#5. Very nice, lovely and funny article. Great job fai..!
#4. Rafthah, it's people like you yang buat I semangat nak terus menulis nih. Hehe. You're very generous with kind words sis, mucho thanks. It would be nice to be some sort of ambassador to Indo wouldn't it. Perhaps one day the opportunity shall arise, I can only work hard and pray.
#3. pay what u eat only. hehehe.. empekČ sedap kan fairy.
#2. Wherever u go... mesti ada teh botol.
#1. thats the mentality of majority when they choose to travel to indon, that they will get food poisoning yada yada.
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