Friday, October 18, 2013

Foodie Friday: Eating Masakan Padang Style

(We all know I love to eat, so you know I am not kidding around when talking about food. On Fridays, let me torture myself and anyone who might stumble upon this travel blog with a photo of a delicious food I had in my travels. This week, Foodie Friday features the glorious culinary tradition of Masakan Padang.)

Masakan Padang,  Indonesian Food
A sumptuous dinner in a Masakan Padang restaurant

Masakan Padang, which means Padang cuisine or simply Padang food, is a type of eating in Indonesia which involves a dish put together by the diner from a wide array of choices. It involves being served small plates of the dishes available that day. As serving each diner several small plates would be too impractical, most Masakan Padang restaurants usually have diners prepare their own plate buffet style. This type of eating originated from the capital of West Sumatra, Padang, the city considered the heartland of the Minangkabau people.

Masakan Padang,  Indonesian Food
How wide the array of choices depends on how big the Masakan Padang restaurant is. This is from a small one. Still, a lot of choices right there.

Traveling through Java, I came across a lot of Masakan Padang restaurants. They are usually filled with locals, especially so during dinner time as my trip coincided with the holy month of Ramadan. As can be expected from a foreign tourist, I was intimated to go in any of the Masakan Padang restaurants. Seeing a lot of tempting food, however, a man can only take so much. So one day, in a small, quieter Masakan Padang restaurant in Yogyakarta, I finally braved the locals-only atmosphere and went in.

With nasi putih (white rice), I had steamed greens, telur (egg/omelet), ayam goreng (fried chicken), gulai ayam (chicken in yellow curry), and tahu goreng (fried tofu). See primary photo above. For drinks, I had es teh (iced tea). It cost me around 30,000 IDR (3 USD). Not bad.

Imagine if you came across a Masakan Padang restaurant as grand as this, would you be intimidated or would you find it irresistible?
By Gunawan Kartapranata | CC BY-SA 3.0

How to Eat in a Masakan Padang Restaurant

Masakan Padang,  Indonesian Food Now there is a certain procedure as to eating Masakan Padang style. So that you would be less intimidated than I was, assuming of course you are a foreign tourist like me, let me suggest a step-by-step procedure on how to eat in a Masakan Padang restaurant:
  1. Step inside the Masakan Padang restaurant. Go on. Do not be intimidated. Think about the food!
  2. Locate the rice station. Rice is usually contained in a big casserole next to a stack of plates. Scoop yourself as much as you can finish. Staff may sometimes assist you with this.
  3. Go to the buffet line and choose which dishes tickle your fancy. If you are on a strict budget, best take it easy and stick to a couple of dishes.
  4. If you do not speak Bahasa Indonesia, nor are you familiar with the names of the dishes you just served yourself, take a picture of the meal. I am not kidding.
  5. Settle on a table (usually communal in these parts). Restaurant staff may approach and ask you, "Minom?" Reply with your preferred beverage: es teh (iced tea), air botol (bottled water), or whatever bottled/canned beverage you fancy.
  6. Now eat. Eat with reckless abandon. Savor the flavors and spices of the curries. Savor the contrasts in the fried foods and tender meats. Enjoy it.
  7. Once done eating, head to the cashier and show the photo of what you ordered. Pay up. Done.

I hope that helps! Have you had a Masakan Padang experience? How was it?

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