Category Archives: Padang

Went There Ate That: A Foodie in West Sumatra (The Foodie Magazine, Jan 2015)

Never once I feel such intensity with my longing when it comes to West Sumatra. It is a country full of natural colors and flavors, and everything that came from long history of the people. After several trips there, it is high time for me to share a bit of my foodie adventure in Sumatra Barat.

A Foodie in West Sumatra (10)

Thrice I joined the ranks of journalists on trips to West Sumatra on different purposes but I was fortunate to squeeze the small room of time and opportunity to explore the country’s rich heritage of cuisines from different regions and also the magnificent landscapes in-between.

Oftentimes I have to thank nowadays technology in helping me to pinpoint the exact location of eateries within the obscurity on the map of rural West Sumatra. That and some help from the natives through Twitter, but most of all, my biggest achievement was that I managed to steer fellow journalists and drivers to follow my directions.

The highlight of this piece is mainly about where to eat in regencies outside of Padang, even though my sentimental side asked me to feature one also from the city.

So without further ado, let’s tread it together!


The city of Padangpanjang lies upon the mountainous region on the heart of West Sumatra. The cool climate of this region makes the city a favorite destination for weekend vacation, almost on par with the more popular Bukittinggi. Most of all, for us foodies, we all know that the city is the capital of the famous sate Padang.

A Foodie in West Sumatra (6) A Foodie in West Sumatra (5) A Foodie in West Sumatra (4)

As a much-loved dish for lunch and dinner, sate Padang from this city emphasizes the use of turmeric more than the coastal city of Pariaman with its red, fiery sauce from the chilies. Despite the strong presence of Mak Syukur, the biggest sate Padang restaurant in town that also has expanded itself to Jakarta, the city is basically proud of the heritage.

That’s why during my last visit, which coincided with Tour de Singkarak 2014, the mayor of the city decided to present everyone with a free-for-all satay bazaar and it was the very moment that I will never ever forget. While people are feasting upon different hawkers, I sampled some of them and found out how brilliant it was to mix between the meat, the tongue, the cheek, and other parts of cow altogether with the intense marination and the flavorful sauce. Respect!


A bit far to the south, the city of Sawahlunto is hidden between the surrounding valleys of rich coal deposit which makes it one of the most beautiful cities in West Sumatra. The way in and out is of the city is through the snake-like main road that leads up to the small town strip of Muaro Kalaban.

A Foodie in West Sumatra (9) A Foodie in West Sumatra (7)

In Muaro Kalaban, you will easily find the best dendeng batokok ever in the whole country. While considered as a delicacy in any Padangnese restaurant, the restaurant’s owner has been in the business for decades and the uniformed meat size from tokok-tokok process (pounding the meat) is cooked for many hours, and then topped with red chilies and minyak tanak (pure coconut oil) – the olive oil for Minang people.

There’s a perfect chemistry behind the richness of the spices, the sweetness that came from the meat, and the extra flavor from the coconut oil. Needless to say, each of the elements came from painstaking effort and I felt like I was digging on something heavenly, something that you would cherish on every bite of it.


This newly formed regency is tucked far away on the southeastern part of the province. It is even said that the medieval kingdoms of Sumatra started here, even before the times of Adityawarman.

A Foodie in West Sumatra (2)

Dharmasraya has only long strips of small towns upon the main road to the neighboring provinces and a few of recently revived historical sites for now. However if you take a look a little bit inside, you will find cheerful housewives saying more than just hello for the newcomers.

In villages of West Sumatra, it is a customary thing for the housewives to cook together to cater the wedding on the next day. What I found was something that is rarely seen anymore in cities and the togetherness in cooking anything Minangnese from grinding the chilies, frying the chicken, and the making of delicious potato fritters.

You can find restaurants out of here, but to view a celebration like this and mingle with the natives become something so valuable that you will not want to trade with anything else.


The southern frontier of West Sumatra begins here. Upon the long road ahead downhill that heads to the province of Jambi you will witness the beautiful Danau Di Atas and Danau Di Bawah, and also Mount Kerinci from far away. It’s always a pleasantly scenic journey down this way.

A Foodie in West Sumatra (8)

The Sungai Kalu restaurant upon the main road dated back since the 1950s and it flourishes from time to time as the government paves way to develop the regency. Now, it becomes an oasis for travelers and frequented by many every day.

So, whenever you’re here, be sure to try anything related with green chilies and by that I mean not just the dendeng or the chicken, but also the eels. It’s a simple pleasure found only in rural West Sumatra.


So many things to share from the capital city but I would like to just highlight this one for now. After the satay and the proteins from the rich Minang cuisine, then of course it is time for the soto Padang!

A Foodie in West Sumatra (1)

Soto Garuda has been there for many years and sells the much-loved soto Padang that you can find in Jakarta as well. However, their version is simply the best. It feels classic, fresh, clean, but also packed with flavors. The proteins came from the fried cow’s lung or the meat but adding their take of gado-gado is a must as well.

Clearly the two dishes are the best seller there and it’s better to come not too late in the evening or you’ll run out of it.


Featured in THE FOODIE MAGAZINE Jan 2015 edition

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How It Was Started: Sate Padang

If we trace what happened far in the past, the island of Sumatra had its shares of intense interactions with the civilizations from the Middle East and India. Specifically, the West Sumatra province has been known as a region rich with spices and fertile lands. That’s probably why the Arabic, Persian, and Indian merchants were particularly fond dealing with the people there.

Sate Padang Pariaman 4

That’s also what naturally caused the West Sumatrans became so avid with anything related with chilies or coconut milk, apart from the fact that they have the best cooks in Indonesia and the most extensive types of dishes I have ever seen compared to any cuisine around the globe.

As time went by, they began to use different produce, spice, meat, and even difficult techniques in preparing such harmonious ensemble of meals from breakfast to dinner. This is something that we would generalize about Minangkabau cuisine.

Sate Padang Pariaman 7

I found this particulary spicy sate padang from a warung far in the eastern regency of Dharmasraya. It is clearly the Pariaman-style as told by the owner and the characteristics as you can see there.
I found this particulary spicy sate padang from a warung far in the eastern regency of Dharmasraya. It is clearly the Pariaman-style as told by the owner and the characteristics as you can see there.

For Sate Padang – the traditional satay of the West Sumatran people, there’s little information about how it was actually started, except from some claims that the citizens of Padangpanjang were the real inventors in the 19th century. Today, the town becomes the capital of sate Padang and is represented by Sate Padang Mak Syukur with a big restaurant there.

Sate Padang Pariaman 3

During the Tour de Singkarak festivity, the mayor of Padangpanjang generously hosted the sate Padang parade where people can order satay for free. This one is another interesting take as it has an orange color, not too spicy, but highly umami. I like it!
During the Tour de Singkarak festivity, the mayor of Padangpanjang generously hosted the sate Padang parade where people can order satay for free. This one is another interesting take as it has an orange color, not too spicy, but highly umami. I like it!

However, in early 20th century, many people flocked from the mountainous region around the town to the coastal city of Pariaman to learn more about Islam. That time Pariaman was known to have the best madrassa in the whole country of West Sumatra and even some people that I know personally claim so as well. After all, the city is the very gate of so many influences coming in to the province since long ago.

From these trips done by the students and scholars of Islam, they eventually introduced the recipe of sate Padang to Pariaman and the people there ultimately developed their own version of it.

Sate Padang Pariaman 5

The rule of thumb on how to differentiate sate Padang from Padangpanjang to Pariaman is the very color. The Padangpanjang version uses more turmeric and that makes the color yellow, while the Pariaman people use more chilies for the sauce, making it red. Additionally, the people of Padang city also developed their own version and the recipe revolves in-between Padangpanjang and Pariaman.

The rest is pretty much what you see commonly about how they serve it, how they spiced the meat, which parts are commonly used, the rice cakes, and the thick, spicy sauce that we all love so much.



  • Investigasi Sate Padang, by Barens Hidayat

Kahvehane: Kopitiam Nan Yo Baru ‘Liong’ (Padang – West Sumatra, Indonesia)

Nan Yo Baru - Interior

Finding a kopitiam has been a-must activity since I set my foot on Bangka island around last year. In certain places where the traces of Chinese immigrants can be found, you can almost be sure that the trail of good coffee follows. This joyous moment happened as well during my visit to the Chinatown area of Padang and this very kopitiam is said to be one of the famous in the city. Let us meet Cici Yance, the owner of Kopitiam Nan Yo Baru ‘Liong’.

As the wife of the second generation owner of this homey kopitiam, Cici Yance has been running the show solo lately. Her husband’s ailment prevented him to be involved fully in the business again. Much to my surprise, Cici Yance served seven of us with warm welcome and swift service. After all, the rush hours had passed.

Lontong Cubadak
Lontong Cubadak

For me, it’s also the chance to taste one of the local’s best aside from the coffee. Due to its Chinese heritage, Nan Yo Baru also serves noodles and dumplings but I had to skip it for now even though the very thought of it made me drooling. This time I chose Lontong Cubadak or rice cakes with young jackfruit, sweet nut paste, bean curd, other vegetables, and a hard-boiled egg with curry soup. To refresh myself again against the very hot day that day, I had myself Cici Yance’s iced coffee and milk.

This particular rice cakes dish has many different version. For example, my breakfast the last time I visited the regency of Lintau on the far eastern part of West Sumatra was the combination between bubur or roughly cut rice cakes with young jackfruits only. While this one here has a more colorful combo and a rare treat for my tummy!

Es Kopi Susu
Es Kopi Susu

As for the coffee, Cici Yance said that she uses a particular robusta beans from Sungai Penuh area around the foothills of Kerinci mountain in Jambi province territory and she does it the Singaporean kopitiam way by boiling the coffee inside a sieve and the unique long kettle. Too bad that time I didn’t taste the real hot coffee but after all, the iced version was also a formidable choice. A friend of mine regarded highly the taste of his cuppa for only like IDR 6,000!

Cici Yance
Cici Yance

Well, it was a short visit and no matter how pleasant Cici Yance’s hospitality was, we only talked a bit but my journo friends bought some coffee beans to be taken home. One of them even asked Cici Yance to teach how to brew it and she’s more than willing to do so.

So, now I know where to find good coffee and perhaps next time I’d be able to also visit another coffee watering hole of my friend’s girlfriend’s relatives also in Padang. It’s a good thing that naturally the Chinese families have this particular fondness with coffee everywhere and they share the fun with us in an affordable way. I am indeed, thankful.




Must eat: All kinds of coffee, rice cakes dishes for breakfast

Spend: IDR 10,000 – 15,000 / person

Address: Jalan Nipah no. 22, Padang –

Telp: +62.751.28529

Opening hours: Everyday, TBA

Quikskoop™: Es Durian Ganti Nan Lamo (Padang – West Sumatra, Indonesia)

The King of Fruits! Who would dare deny its exotic taste, its silky and sultry texture, and its intriguing appearance? I bet most Asians love it, especially those who came from Southeastern part like us here in Indonesia. But due to its pungency both in flavor and fragrant-wise, it’s a fruit that’s also shun people especially from our Western counterpart. For instance, even Andrew Zimmern himself cannot take this challenge.

By the way, here in Indonesia we all do love to enjoy durian in many ways. Traditionally we break through its thorny exterior and enjoy its delicious meat plainly. Some even can finish several fruits in one time, although it’s not good for your health from what I heard (well, I have never been a hardcore fan of durian). Or if you don’t want all that fuss, we can find hawkers selling one version of es durian where they put one piece of the fruit with its seed and combined it with condensed chocolate milk with black glutinous rice sprinkles. Simply delish!

Another example came from Es Durian Kantin Sakinah in Bandung with its colorful combinations and still remain as the best in my heart.

Es Durian Ganti Nan Lamo - Es Durian Party!

Now this particular version in Padang came out rather differently. Without doubt, Es Durian Ganti Nan Lamo brings this certain corner of Padang’s Chinatown a good livelihood for people around as it has successfully opened up two stores, a similar competitor just across the street, and several food vendors hooking up with it in order for them to ‘survive’.

Without doubt, Ganti Nan Lamo’s version of es durian is still a tempting one and I’d do it over and over again whenever I’m in Padang. They have a bowl full of durian essence, probably as a result of blending, and they only need to pour it over ice and give it a kick of condensed chocolate milk for every serve. There’s the Minang version of also combining it with local famous es tebak thus giving the es durian more texture and something to chew with. Even they have the ‘floating’ version by giving it three flavors of ice cream. Of course, I really recommend it doing the Minang way here with es tebak!

What’s probably missing for us, who came from Java, is that the es durian from Ganti Nan Lamo lacks the fiber texture of the fruit. We didn’t feel something to chew upon and there’s no seed at all. Well, I guess we still like it the old way, or for me The Sakinah way, but still it’s a good treat on a hot day or even for anytime!

Even if they have permanent place, I suppose cleanliness comes on the bottom list of priority and occasionally people coming in asking for money over playing guitar or just simply begging like in many street food hawkers. Well, I call it as something that we have to be thankful upon. What’s better than having good food and also a chance to help others in need?

To conclude this up, hopefully Ganti Nan Lamo will always experiment new ways in serving es durian and that one day, it’ll be as colorful as any experience you can get from any hawkers only in one-stop and that’ll be here, on the city filled with legendary culinary scenes!




Must eat: Es durian tok, es durian campur (es tebak)

Spend: IDR 20,000 – 30,000 / person

Address: Jalan Pulau Karam no. 103B, Padang – West Sumatra, Indonesia

Telp: +62.751.26203

Opening hours: Everyday, TBA