Indonesia has a rich culture and tradition. Did you know that there are more than 30 provinces with hundreds of local languages in this archipelago? This diversity is reflected in Indonesia’s culinary scene. You will not find the same taste of one local dish in another province even if it has the same name. For instance, chicken satay in Java has a different taste with chicken satay in Sumatra. In fact, in Java itself, there’s more than one kind of chicken satay and the differences can be attributed to the ingredients and cooking process. And that’s what Sundanese food is all about. Keep reading to find out why you should try this type of Indonesian food at least once in your life and which restaurants in Bandung should be on your list!
What is Sundanese food?
Sunda is an ethnic group native to West Java. The Sundanese mostly live in Bandung and its vicinity. Bandung is known as a fashion and culinary city. In fact, it’s called the “Paris Van Java”. Even though I grew up in Bandung, I still can’t get enough of Sundanese food. There’s a distinctive taste you cannot get anywhere else in the world. Bandung is only two hours away from Jakarta so if you’re visiting the capital or on a transit, consider making a short day trip to Bandung as the city has so many things to offer, including its delicious dishes!
Sundanese food is not just about one dish. There are so many things you can choose from. If this is your first time, go for ”lalapan” or ”bancakan”. These consist of protein and vegetable side dishes that you can enjoy with a plate of steamed rice. Without further ado, let’s see which restaurants in Bandung you can have the best Sundanese food!
This is one of the best and most popular Sundanese restaurants in Bandung, mainly because of its wide selection of dishes. People often reserve some tables for a business meeting and family gatherings. Don’t worry about not getting a seat, though. There’s plenty of space available.
When you get to Alas Daun, first choose your table and keep the number. Then, go around and choose what you want to order. From the main entrance, there is a selection of street food on the left corner. In the center, you can find a small café. The main food counter is located further back. Here, you’ll find so many options on the table, some are half-cooked and some are ready to serve. Walk around to see your options and stand in line to wait for your turn to order. Pick anything from the half-cooked selection - from chicken and fish to tofu and tempeh - and decide if you want them grilled or fried. Don’t forget the ready-to-serve options to complete your meals. Everything is to be eaten with a portion of steamed rice: plain white rice, brown rice, or spicy “tutug” rice. The last one is a Sundanese specialty.
What’s unique about this place is that everything is served on banana leaves instead of plates. Hence the name “Alas Daun”, which can be loosely translated to “Placemat Leaf”. Every item is freshly made. I suggest you order more for takeaway and heat them up later for your next meal!
Address: Jl. Citarum No.34, Cihapit, Kec. Bandung Wetan, Kota Bandung, Jawa Barat 40116, Indonesia
Opening Hours: 11am – 7pm (every day)
Like most Sundanese restaurants in Bandung, Sambel Hejo also offers the same concept: everything is to be eaten with a portion of rice. Unlike Alas Daon, Sambel Hejo lets you choose from the menu instead. However, if you do not ask for anything specific, they will bring you plates of options to your table as soon as you sit down. Take as many as you want and they will charge based on the amount you took. Please keep in mind that the prices on the menu are per item, not per plate.
What’s popular from Sambel Hejo is Cimplung. It’s made of potato and flour, shaped into balls, then steamed and fried. You cannot find it elsewhere. So, make sure you grab some from the table! They are great as both appetizers and snacks. Or you can also enjoy it with fried chicken, grilled fish, steamed tofu and mushroom, and many others.
Address: Sambel Hejo Natuna branch is located on Jl. Brigadir Jend. Katamso No.49, Cihaur Geulis, Kec. Cibeunying Kaler, Kota Bandung, Jawa Barat 40122, Indonesia. There are several other branches you can find in Bandung.
Opening Hours: 8.30am – 8pm (every day)
As you explore the streets of Bandung, you will notice a lot of eateries selling bakso. It’s a meatball dish that is popular, not just in Bandung but also other parts of Indonesia. Bakso may not be entirely Sundanese, but Bandung’s bakso has become a foodie’s favorite.
If this is your first time eating bakso, I recommend going to Bakso Mandeep. This bakso restaurant allows you to choose what and how much you want to put on your plate. The type of dish this restaurant serves actually originated from Malang, a city in East Java. However, the Sundanese culinary touch makes this dish unique and arguably better!
Address: LLRE Martadinata St No.38A, Merdeka, Sumurbandung, Bandung City, West Java 40113, Indonesia. There are several other branches you can find in Bandung.
Opening Hours: 10am – 10pm (every day)
What you need to know
Before going on your culinary journey in Bandung, Indonesia, there are a few things you need to know:
• Sambal. This is the key to Sundanese food. If you’re familiar with Indonesian food, you’ve probably tasted this before. However, Sundanese sambal comes in different spicy levels and plenty of variants. From green to red chili, raw to cooked, thick to runny, each dish has its own sambal. Keep in mind that Sundanese love their spicy food. So, if you’re not used to spices, I suggest you go for mild ones first.
• Eat with rice. Most items available should be eaten with a portion of rice or other condiments such as noodles, which will balance all the flavors. If eaten by itself, it may be too salty and spicy for your liking.
• No cutleries. Except for soups and broth-based dishes, most Sundanese restaurants in Bandung don’t have cutleries. This is not because they’re not offering the best service, but because you’re not supposed to eat the dishes with a spoon or fork. You’re supposed to eat them with your hands. So, wash your hands first and dig in! Don’t worry, though, if you prefer eating with a spoon and fork, you can always ask.
Sundanese food is a unique Indonesian cuisine
Even if you’re familiar with Indonesian cuisine, you will not find anything like Sundanese food. Do not miss the experience of trying new dishes and seeing their unique style of serving the food. Bring this list of restaurants in Bandung to help you explore Paris Van Java better!
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