Stage 5 of Tour de Singkarak from Sawahlunto to Muara Labuh in the southern part of West Sumatra may be one of the most challenging routes and also a very scenic one. Me and fellow travel journalists decided to head first far before start to do some photography stuffs on the way and as always, they asked me where to eat for lunch. I said without hesitation, ‘RM Sungai Kalu! Best for its baluik lado mudo!’
It’s pretty much unimaginable to experience the rough route between Sawahlunto – Muara Labuh as a cyclist. First you really have to climb all the way up but you get to reward yourself with the beautiful lakes of Danau Diatas and Danau Dibawah. Then you have to do series of up and downhills with plenty of turns and chicanes to reach Muara Laboh on the almost southernmost part of Solok Selatan regency. It’s a test of trial and tribulation indeed! Even us back in the car cannot imagine the exhaustion from the hardships!
We went ahead and stopped in a small village just 20 km before finish to seek out one of the most exotics in Minangnese Cuisine and this time it involves eels.
Finally we arrived at RM Sungai Kalu – an established restaurant, relatively neat and clean, even though it’s quite in the middle of nowhere. I bet that travelers from West Sumatra who head for Jambi or vice versa often stop here for their meals and that’s the reason why this restaurant flourished.
Mr Yulamri as the owner greeted us with open hands and explained passionately about the dishes. He mentioned about this business where his father started decades ago, far in the time where the roads were still probably gravel or dirt, and it has grown so much. One interesting thing about this restaurant and the masjid in front of it is that both are using water transferred by pipes straight from the mountain and there’s no switching off of it. The water here is just simply refreshing, cool, and abundant!
As for the food by the way, it’s pretty much everything that involves lado mudo or the green chilies sauce Minangnese style! First, the beautiful looking baluik lado mudo or fried paddy field’s eels with the green chilies, and there are also combinations of lado mudo with both fried chicken and dendeng batokok. The dendeng batokok may not be as elaborated as in RM Dendeng Batokok back in Muaro Kalaban but still it’s a formidable dish when combined with lado mudo.
What’s special about the eels was that it came from local West Sumatran paddy fields, slim in stature, and fried until all part of the eels become very crispy. It’s not all about its saltiness in terms of taste, but the thing about eels is that it has a special flavor and texture where you won’t find in any other protein. Imagine the delicious fried eels paired with the good old spicy lado mudo and fries. Heaven on earth!
The fried chicken is also something that you cannot miss as well, since for me, the taste resembles pretty much with the fried chicken produced by my aunt’s skillful cookery back at home. She marinates it first with coconut milk and many herbs but this one here is paired with the magical lado mudo. Additionally once again, the dendeng batokok is also highly recommended.
Another surprise came next where the price of these fancies were not expensive at all. The seven of us spent around IDR 20,000-ish each and for a very good bargain, plus the fresh iced tea or orange juice. Rural areas of West Sumatra may get very hot during the day even though many hills surround it so drinking these gave us the boost much needed for our long way back home.
So the next time you’re around Solok Selatan regency, a visit here is a hot list that you have to fulfilled, no matter how far it is!
RM SUNGAI KALU – SUNGAI KALU, INDONESIA
Must eat: Baluik lado mudo, ayam goreng/dendeng balado lado mudo
Spend: IDR 20,000 – 30,000 / person
Address: Jalan Lintas Muara Laboh, Pasar Sungai Kalu, Solok Selatan – West Sumatra, Indonesia
Opening hours: Everyday, TBA