During the remaining stages of Tour de Singkarak, my willpower to seek new foodie haven had gone a bit dwindling but a last strike was all I need. Judging that our route would be along the coastline of West Sumatra between Padang – Painan, then seafood would be the best option. That’s the time I heard all the good things about gulai ikan karang and RM Simpang TPI is the powerhouse name for that!
Originally, it was palai bada or the grilled anchovies with herbs wrapped in banana leaves, that came as the initial intention for our culinary trip highlight of the day. Unfortunately though, I cannot find a specific restaurant of where to stop by in Painan for this. Not until I finally found several places recommended for it and the gulai kapalo ikan karang around the beach of Bungus instead.
RM Simpang TPI is clearly named among the best for these. Even so, we passed the restaurant by too early or around brunch time and we got too excited to pursue several places of interest first before sealing our day with good food.
Off we went first for Jembatan Akar (an eclectic bridge made from stretched roots) and the amazing seven-story waterfall (although we could only access and see the first two-story, unfortunately). Arriving at Painan, we were overwhelmed by the lunch boxes and a trip to a neighboring island. So bottom line is that we had to see the race finished first before we head for RM Simpang TPI.
TPI itself is an abbreviation of Tempat Pelelangan Ikan or Fish Auction Site in English. It’s true that this particular restaurant is quite nearby the site and the Carolina Bungus beach, making it highly accessible with fresh seafood products everyday.
However, it was unfortunate of us in the end. We arrived a bit late and they all ran out of snapper’s head used for the curry dish and there’s no palai bada as well. Instead, we were left with the snapper’s meat curry instead or the usual gulai ikan karang.
Lucky that I’m a kind of person that pays no heed about this disadvantage and gave my trust for the rest of the dishes. Turned out that the gulai ikan karang was not only delicious, but it also possessed a distinctive flavor that I cannot comprehend until this very moment with the addition of also using fresh snappers!
The yellow curry was just incredible and packed with flavors aside from savory. There’s this certain ingredient that I cannot comprehend, combined with onions in the base of the curry, and all of it created something I have never encountered before. I dare to challenge its snapper’s head curry with RM Pak Slamet‘s version back at Cilincing, the next time around.
A journalist friend of mine mutually agreed with me that the fish curry is indeed a solid one, possesses unique flavors, fresh, and of course, delicious. We happened also to finish each a plate filled with two pieces of fish and pairing it with sambal teri or anchovy sambal. The sambal was not spicy at all and a tad too salty for some, owing the flavor to the anchovies, but it’s much to my liking nevertheless! I bet my wife won’t really like it. Hahaha..
Well, it was quite fulfilling although I was still a bit disappointed for not encountering snapper’s head curry and palai bada, but we had a really beautiful closure when taking photographs over sunset at Teluk Bayur on our way back to Padang.
It was an adventurous day sealed with great food and beautiful view.
What more can you ask?
RM SIMPANG TPI NI YAS – BUNGUS, INDONESIA
Must eat: Gulai ikan karang
Spend: IDR 20,000 – 30,000 / person
Address: Jalan Raya Padang – Painan (20 km from Padang), Bungus – West Sumatra, Indonesia
Opening hours: Everyday, TBA