To save money we recommend you always ask a local to take you to a local Warung (Warung in Indonesian language is food place) before you eat there. If you see locals there – there is a good chance it is ok to eat there too. Be mindful that the locals have stronger stomachs than you though. There are many different options for street food and local food and we explain them below.
A few things to look for in selecting a good street vendor.
- Are they using fresh water to cook? Check with them.
- Does the meat show signs of being exposed to air for a long time i.e. dry and hard? Don’t eat it if it is.
- Ask them when they cooked it!
- Particularly for vegetables – you want to make sure they are cooked properly so make sure everything is boiled or fried.
Bakso means Indonesian meatballs. They are usually served on some noodles, with soup and some sambal. The dish is light and refreshing (even though its hot) and is safe to eat at most street vendors if you can see that the water is boiling (just to make sure any bugs are killed). Just be careful because borax is added to Bakso to preserve the food and isn’t the best thing to eat a lot of. There are links to Cancer from borax so if you are pregnant then do not eat Bakso from street vendors. The bigger restaurants will have preservative free Bakso.
Ice desert. This is a favorite and the chilled coconut goes down better than beer on a hot day. You can find es campur (es- means ice) at almost all restaurants also. In tourist spots the street vendors will use fresh water to make it.
These are the little carts selling corn on the gob grilled fresh. If you have not tried this before we can strongly recommend it. Grilled and then sprinkled with salt, chilli and some lemon this zesty snack will leave you licking your lips. A good test to check if the corn is fresh is to poke it with a spoon (ask the vendor) if the corn is hard as hell then you wont be able to push the flesh. The best option is to ask them to cook it for you fresh – so you don’t brake a tooty trying to eat one that has been sitting on the grill for an hour or so.
Nasi padang is our pick for places to eat because of the selection. You want to eat at these places between 11am-1:30pm though. That is when the food is fresh. You want it to be fresh because it sits outside in the air in a glass viewing cabinet. Simply go to a place like this and ask for rice and then select the meals you want. Expect to pay between $1.5-$2 for a full meal. Doa Ibu in Kuta Lombok is famous for their simple and delicious food. We have never been sick eating the food here.
Sate ayam or Chicken Satay is just skewered chicken grilled over coals and served with a peanut sauce. These little vendors can be seen along any main highway or city with a cloud of smoke around them. They normally set up shop around busy shops and the best way to gauge if their food is good is where they are located. If their food is bad – chances are that the shop owners would ask them to move on. Expect to pay $1.5 for 10 sticks of satay (note that satay here are not like western countries – the meat is cut much finer so that it cooks faster). To be extra safe – ask them to put the sate sauce on the chicken so that is heats up before they give it to you – this will ensure any bugs in the peanut sauce are killed before you eat it.