Over the past couple of years, Bandung has gained a reputation as one of the foodie capitals in Indonesia. With plenty of street food selections, innovative cafes with East-meets-West style, and Chinese restaurants serving from way back when, trying to decide where to eat when you’re there can be quite a challenge because frankly, everything seems mouth-watering.
Last weekend, my friends and I packed our bags and went to Bandung without plans and came home full of Bandung’s creme de la creme of gastronomic experiences. If you’re looking for a local dining experience in Bandung, here are the 5 places you need to check out.
1. Dapur Pandan Wangi (Sundanese Food)
If you’re looking for what the locals dig, this is it. When we got there at 8.30 PM (1.5 hours before its closing time), it was still very crowded and we had to be on the waiting list. The staff members were extremely helpful, setting up chairs at the front part of the restaurant for everyone on the waiting list since it was raining outside.
Looking at the restaurant’s interior, you’ll probably expect the food to be a bit on the pricey side. The indoor part of the restaurant has a strong colonial home vibe whereas the semi-outdoor part looks like a traditional joglo with little huts on one side. However, the pricing actually ranged from IDR2.000 to IDR70.000. Okay, then the portion must be bite-size, right? Nope. Their portion of food is really generous considering the price and as hungry college students with limited finances, we were happy.
Let’s talk about the food. Everything tasted brilliant, but the highlights of the meal were Terong Raos (fried eggplant with sweet and spicy sauce) for IDR18.500, Lontong Kari (rice cake cooked with curry sauce and chicken) for IDR22.000, and Tumis Kangkung (sauteed water spinach cooked with garlic) for IDR14.500. Apparently, Terong Raos is the favorite in Dapur Pandan Wangi and it was clear why it deserves such a title since it “converted” my friend Gab who doesn’t eat vegetables at all into eating two of it. If East-meets-West fusion food is what you’re interested in, Dapur Pandan Wangi’s Spaghetti Kampung (IDR24.000) is something you need to try. It’s basically spaghetti cooked with some shredded coconut which made for an interesting aglio olio kind of flavor.
[Mouse over each photo for the name of each dish]
Overall, I can see why Bandung’s locals flock this place. It’s got great food served in large portions, great service, good vibes, and all of this comes at a low price-range. Dapur Pandan Wangi basically gives everything you want out of a restaurant.
Dapur Pandan Wangi | Jl. Patuha no. 38 | +6222-7309718/7305786 | http://www.dapoerpandanwangi.com
We found this gem while we were stuck in Lembang’s notorious traffic and starving. Gab suddenly pointed at a shop house tucked at the corner of Jalan Raya Lembang and said that he had dined there before and their food was awesome. As hungry people with no idea of what to eat, we switched lanes and parked right next to this shop house which had a sign on its entrance reading “Mandarin.”
It turned out that Gab was right. Although it was a very simple shop house crammed with long tables made of wooden planks and chairs that looked straight out of simple offices, the food they served came in huge, well-spiced servings at a mid-range price. We ordered rice with five different sides – mostly involving meat – for IDR468.000, which was quite fair considering the huge servings we got.
Highlights of the meal included Mandarin’s Kangkung Hotplate (water spinach cooked with quail eggs and beef in oyster sauce served on a hot plate), Sapi Lada Hitam (beef sauteed with black pepper, slices of bell pepper and onions), and Sapo Tahu (tofu cooked with seafood, mushroom and veggies in thick seafood stock). The only dish I wasn’t crazy about was their fu yung hai (seafood patty) which was really crispy, but quite plain.
[mouse over for names of each dish]
Overall, our dining experience at Mandarin was quite brilliant. We were starving when we arrived and left feeling incredibly full. The only department that it lacks is service because we had to ask for a menu and the food was slow. But if you find yourself in Lembang and needing a lot of food, Mandarin is where it’s at.
Mandarin Restaurant | Jl. Raya Lembang no. 249 | +6222 – 2786913 | Open: 9.30 AM-10.30 PM
3. Tahu Susu Lembang
It was 4 PM and we needed that extra snack between lunch and dinner. With hunger starting to kick in and my friend Albert’s curiosity of what Tahu Susu Lembang is all about, we stopped by at this place. At first glance, Tahu Susu Lembang looked like a huge dining area serving nothing but tofu. When we walked in, it turned out that the place was modeled like a traditional market with various snacks and drinks being sold. At the heart of it all was of course, the stall of Tahu Susu Lembang. We joined in the huge line already forming and got 20 pieces of fried milk tofu for IDR30.000.
It turned out that what sets Tahu Susu Lembang apart from other kinds of tofu was its tenderness. Every time you bite the tofu, it’s as if it melts in your mouth. Taste-wise, it was just like any other tofu, really. Another quality that makes it awesome is its durability. We opened some leftover tofu the following morning and even though the box had gone soggy, the tofu still tasted great.
Other things you should get while you’re at this place is soy milk sold at Tahu Susu Lembang’s stall for IDR7.000 because it tasted like what soy beans should taste like without sugar added and fried tempe chips (IDR 15.000/pack) from the stall next to the batagor stall across Tahu Susu Lembang’s because I had never tasted tempe chips spiced so well until I had this one.
Tahu Susu Lembang | Jl. Raya Lembang no. 177, Lembang | +6222-2789008 | Open: 8 AM-7 PM
4. Sudirman Street
If you love pork and chill places, then Sudirman Street should be included in your Bandung to-do list. This place is essentially a semi-open air food court filled all kinds of street food imaginable – from Sundanese to Cuban. However, this place is notoriously known for the having plenty of stalls in its complex selling pork – so pork was what we got.
The first thing we got was sweet pork satay from Sate Wibisana (IDR65.000 for 10 skewers)
The thing about pork satay is a lot of times, those who make them only spice them on the outside but not let them sit and marinate long enough for the spices to really sink in. Sate Wibisana was not that kind of satay. The mix of honey and soy sauce really sunk into each piece of meat and the char was nice – not too overcooked that it tastes bitter. The pork was also tender – it wasn’t hard to bite into it – and the only thing we wanted was more of these.
To continue our pork fiesta, we had Pinky Porky’s Cheesy Pork Martabak for IDR42.000
If food were boys, this martabak is my new boyfriend. It was the most brilliant thing I’ve ever had in my entire life. The melted cheese on top went brilliantly with the juicy pork and green onions inside the crispy crust of the martabak. What made this dish so magnificent was how with each bite of the martabak, some fat came out of the pork and if you have no idea what pork fat tastes like, I can only say that it’s heavenly.
We ended the night with some sweet potato balls bought by Sisca’s friends (who became our new friends that night too) and it was the perfect end to the night. They were crispy and the already-sweet sweet potatoes blended with a touch of honey tasted just right.
If you’re planning to go to Sudirman Street, make sure to get there while the night is young because it gets much more crowded during and after dinner hours which makes finding a table really hard, especially when it’s raining. Be mindful that although the complex is already open in day time, most of the local favorites are only open after 6 PM.
Sudirman Street | Jalan Sudirman, Bandung | Open: 11 AM to 10 PM
5. Mie Naripan 108
Mie Naripan 108 is a legendary establishment in Bandung and it has been selling noodles at the same spot since the 1960s. Even after all this time, the Chinese-Indonesian family owning the place still serves plenty of diners every day.
Of course, I had to try their specialty: Yamin Manis Pangsit (IDR40.000)
I could see why Mie Naripan 108 is still a local favorite even after more than 40 years in the business. Their noodles were cooked well and the mix of soy sauce meets salt and some tender ground beef was awesome. The dumplings were also brilliant because they had plentiful filling (finally, dumplings with plenty of filling!) and even the broth that goes along with the noodles was tasty – something a lot of noodle shops can’t achieve.
Most culinary ventures that began 40 years ago had lost its touch in the present since the taste of its food usually worsen over time as recipes are passed on. Mie Naripan isn’t one of these places and I hope it will still taste the same 40 years from now.
Bakmie Naripan 108 | Jl. Naripan no. 108 | +6222-4205516/4235808 | Open: 7.30 AM – 10 PM
Bandung gave me a culinary experience like no other. Even the places we spontaneously visited turned out to serve fantastic food. All in all, I think Bandung deserves its title as one of Indonesia’s foodie capitals and these five places have proven that.
Ps: huge thanks to my awesome friend from Bandung, Nico Sugama who showed us around his Bandung and introduced us to most of the places mentioned above! Thanks to my trip companions Albert, Evita, Gabriel, and Sisca as well for putting up with all the note-and-photo-taking in public places.
Pps: this is completely out of topic, but a piece I did in collaboration with 34 other travel bloggers worldwide has just been published on Favoroute. We compiled our favorite spots in the world into a single article and one of the places I included in this article has never been mentioned here before. You can check out the article here.