Food is Culture

My friend once said ‘food is the way to see the world’ and I couldn’t agree more. Everywhere you travel you try something different. Indonesia is famous for its Nasi Goreng, which translates to fried rice. However, if you look deeper you will find that each city has its own traditional dish and here in Makassar you can find many. Two of the most famous dishes from Makassar are mouth-watering soups, one of which is called Pallubasa. Pallubasa is a soup that makes you crave more just from the smell. It has chunks of tender buffalo stewed in a peppery soup with fried coconut. It’s so delicious it’s impossible not to order more. The most popular Pallubasa is on Jalan Serigala. The restaurant, like most, has a simple name ‘Pallubasa Serigala’. They are open day and night and are always busy with customers. They even have people queuing to sit down and eat on a Sunday. It is the only dish they serve and it’s cooked to perfection. To get a real kick you have the choice to add an egg and a spoonful of sambal, which is a chilli sauce. The first mouthful of this will fill your mouth with flavours that will continue until your last spoonful.

The second famous soup from Makassar is called Coto, which is similar to Pallubasa but with different spices. Coto does not have any coconut in it and it’s less peppery. This soup, as well as Pallubasa, is simmered for hours. It is made with chunks of beef and served with Ketupat or Buras. Ketupat is rice cooked and wrapped in palm leaves and Buras is rice cooked in coconut milk and wrapped in banana leaves; both are very delicious and a great way to eat Coto. To really get a taste of all the spices in Coto you have the choice of adding a squeeze, or in my case half a lime into your soup. One of the best places to eat this is on Jalan Nusantara, opposite the port, which is always bustling with people. There is another little restaurant, right next to Coto Nusantara, called Mie Hengky, which serves the popular dish Mie Kering and has a long history here in Makassar. Mie Kering translates to dried noodles. You can find this dish all around Makassar under different names; Mie Titi, Mie Awa and Mie Hengky. They are all very similar and include dried noodles placed on top of a gooey sauce with green vegetables and chicken mixed into it. The crunch of the noodles with the softness of this sauce is a great mix. If you like your spice then try adding the green chilli sauce sat on the tables to give your meal some zing.

The best places to eat in Makassar are the small, local restaurants. They may not seem appealing from the outside but they are the ones that serve the true flavours of Makassar. For example, there is a little place called Dangot 53 on Jalan Sungai Limboto. This place has one of the tastiest duck meals I’ve had. Dangkot is the name of the dish but, as with a lot of the food names in Makassar, there is no direct translation. Dangkot is duck that has been chopped into chunks and cooked in a sauce made from grated coconut, palm oil, pepper, chilli and coriander seeds. The taste is fiery and intense but you cannot get enough of it. However, if meat is not your thing there is no need to worry as Makassar has some of the freshest seafood you will find. Just walk down Jalan Lamadukelleng and you will come across a variety of restaurants that have fish on display for you to choose which one you would like to eat. It is then barbecued with your choice of sauce. A must try is the Parape sauce. It has a unique flavor made up of tamarind, lime and sweet soy sauce. You can really have a big feast at these fish restaurants and order crab, squid, prawns, a variety of vegetables and much more.

Makassar is full of hidden treasures and the other day I came across one of them. Along Jalan Cendrawasih there is a small little white tent called Dapur Tigablast, which serves the most succulent chicken I’ve had in Makassar. You can choose between three flavours; spicy, curry or barbecue, and this is just the beginning. The chicken is placed in a woven basket with a hill of rice, tempe, perkedel and fried kangkung. There is not one part of this meal that is any less delicious than the other. The fried kangkung is buttery, the tempe and perkedel, which is fried potato and sweet corn, goes so well with the chilli sauce and, not forgetting, the flavoursome soup; a great way to start this meal. It is also very cheap but don’t let that fool you, as the standard of this meal is of the same quality as one you would probably pay a lot more money for in another restaurant.

A trip would not be complete without trying some traditional desserts. The perfect place for this is down by the sea, during the evening. You can stroll along, whilst the sun is setting, and stop off at one of the many gerobaks (little wooden, portable carts) to enjoy some Pisang Epe. Pisang Epe is a special type of banana that is baked and covered in brown sugar, chocolate or other sweet flavours. This is so famous in Makassar that gerobaks are lined up beside each other, each one packed with people. They also serve corn on the cob, which can be cooked in salt and chilli. A very tasty snack to have if you’re not that hungry. If you like snacks don’t forget to look out for the men walking around with smaller carts with, what looks like, mini pancakes cooking on them. These are heavenly coconut cakes, which melt in your mouth when eaten hot. Luckily you get plenty in one bag. There is so much to try in Makassar but the most delicious food is usually found in the little restaurants that have been around for years. Tari Travel believes food is an important part of the culture and a great way to get in contact with local people. In each of our tours we will make sure that you get at least one true experience by eating locally with traditional food. And if one time is not enough just ask for more!

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