Bandung, a hidden jewel encircled by scenic Parahyangan hills and was nicknamed Paris van Java. With the inauguration of direct toll road between Bandung and Jakarta in 2005, finally the city becomes more accessible for the capital’s modern influences. Even so, Bandung has always been proud with its heritage and innovations in culinary from way back. Now, the tale of these two cities has reshaped Bandung into a city filled with exciting gastronomic options!
The influx of tourists and foreign influences has become a part of Bandung’s daily life. This progress fuelled many who decided to enter the ever-evolving world of culinary businesses. As a result, all-round contemporary restaurants are emerging but the rest stick with traditional cuisine specialties.
Somewhere in-between, Bandung also sees the emergence of cafes and pubs to cater people’s fondness in hanging out and socialise. Chinook for example, utilises itself for community gatherings. Not only that it is suitable to enjoy some time over a couple of drinks, Chinook also accommodates local aspiring bands to perform their gigs there.
From the traditional side, Lotek Herry Thea now enjoys its stature as one of the prominent hawkers that sells lotek (mixed vegetables with peanut sauce) frequented by hungry fans who are willing to wait the long queue. As we all know, lotek, rujak (spicy fruits salad), or kupat tahu (rice cake, tofu, and bean sprouts with peanut sauce) are among the top-selling staple dishes for in Bandung.
On the other hand, West Sumatran migrant Bang Themmy challenges the hegemony of Minang restaurants from his humble warong. While selecting grilled fish as the speciality dish may sound pedestrian to some, he instead combines it with an unusual yet supremely delicious Padang-style sauce. Additionally he serves other West Sumatran signature dishes such as gulai itiak lado mudo (spicy duck with green chillies sauce), ayam pop (Bukittinggi-style of fried chicken with sambal) and the unique pucuak ubi tigo jam (cassava leaves, coconut milk, and other ingredients steamed up to three hours).
For the Western counterpart, Road Cafe de Fame serves affordable, self-styled steak that ignited Bandung’s steakhouse fever since its inception around fifteen years ago. Now, in an era where wagyu becomes a must-have menu for steakhouses, Road Cafe clings on faithfully with its traditional approach and will always be remembered as one of the creative agents that drive culinary innovations in Bandung.
Snacks novelties become even more interesting with the appearance of the piquant cassava chips from Ma’ Icih, Amanda’s steamed brownies, and new flavours of martabak from the legendary San Francisco. But most surprisingly, the crossbreed version of street snacks such as serabi (rice flour pancake) or cireng (fried tapioca) combined with Western elements from cheese to beef ham, became popular as well.
Although widely open from invasions of other cultures, Bandung adapts and yet still flourishes. Even now the city caters daily direct flights from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. So what will become of Bandung in the future? It is indeed something to look forward to.
Featured in Let’s Eat Magazine – September 2013 Edition
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