Food is a never-ending topic. Why is that? Every time you go to an area with a different culture from yours, you will always find they cook differently. When you happen to be in the city of Medan, surely you will find that food specialties here are different from the ones you can find in other parts of Indonesia. Keep reading to find out more about Medan’s delicacies.
1. Kwetiau goreng Medan, fried 'rice noodles', rich with assortments
‘Kwetiau goreng Medan’, which means Medan-styled fried ‘kwetiau’ (粿條), is actually Chinese stir-fried noodles with more varieties of meat (chicken, pork, shrimp, squid, and scallops), where they use chewy and thicker rice noodles instead of regular noodles made of tapioca. Nowadays, you can find many people selling kwetiau Medan in Indonesian big cities, like Jakarta and Surabaya (I know a great place named ‘Apeng’ in Surabaya), due to the many people from Medan that have moved to these 2 cities. and opened a restaurant business. In Medan, especially if you are a late diner, go to ‘Kwetiau Ateng’ as the restaurant is open daily till midnight. In fact, it’s tempting to try kwetiau Medan. If it can be popular in other big cities, then it has to be a must-try delicious food, and you’ve got to find out for yourself why it is so popular!
2. Durian pancake, a good way to eat durian
Durian is a controversial food. It’s loved for its sweet and bitter taste, as well as its fragrant aroma, but isn’t liked by airlines, buses, or any public transportation operators due to its strong odor. It can be so pungent, that you are not likely to be allowed to carry and handle durian when traveling using any form of public transportation.
Eating durian is messy because of its sticky texture, but a durian pancake isn’t, as the flesh is wrapped with dough. One of the most popular shops selling durian pancakes is ‘Durian Corner’, located on ‘Mojopahit’ Street. Besides durian pancakes, the restaurant also sells other durian-stuffed cakes, such as ‘sus durian’ (a kind of croissant, but soft and stuffed with durian flesh).
3. Bika Ambon, the sweet cake from Medan
Although the cake is called ‘bika ambon’, it’s not originated from Ambon (Ambon is a city in the far eastern part of Indonesia). It’s not clear why it is called this, but nonetheless, this chewy and sweet cake is good to eat while it’s hot, but also perfect to eat when it’s cold. This type of cake is also popular in other areas throughout the country. I highly recommend to buy this when in Medan for yourself, and as a souvenir. To get bika ambon, go to ‘Mojopahit’ Street as there are some cake shops selling bika ambon, such as Bika Ambon Mojopahit and Bika Ambon Ratna, and the more popular one is ‘Bika Ambon Zulaikha’. Not only does it sell bika ambon, the shop also has some other homemade cake like ‘lapis legit’, which literally means ‘sweet layer’.
4. ‘Babi panggang Karo’, the local style of pork barbecue
North Sumatra is the home of people belonging to a tribe named ‘Batak,’ and they certainly have their own delicacies, including the most popular dish ‘Babi Panggang Karo’, or ‘Karo Roasted Pork’, which is porky, crunchy, and sweet. It’s served with steamed yam leaves (if you’ve never had it before, it’s soft and a bit bitter), and always comes with green chilli sauce, made of green pepper, as well as ‘tauco’, the sweet and salty red sauce made of fermented soybeans. There are several eateries selling this type of dish, and I think they are all good. However, for the most popular one, go to ‘BPK Tesalonika’, which is located in the ‘Simpang Selayang’ District, and also gives you a generous portion of pork.
5. ‘Bihun Bebek’, rice noodles with duck
Bihun (米粉) is the thinnest and softest type of rice noodles that can be found in many Chinese restaurants in Indonesia’s cities. However, in Medan, many bihun come with duck instead of chicken or shrimp, including the ones sold at ‘Bihun Bebek Kumango’ (located on Kumango Street), which is one of the most expensive duck rice noodles in town (more than 50,000 IDR/3.84 USD per portion), but with more tender meat and fried shallot toppings.
Stay longer in Medan
There are more local delicacies to try, such as soursop syrup and fermented rose apple. The places I have listed above are must-try restaurants, serving up the most authentic of these cuisines! So stay longer in Medan in order for you to be able to taste all of them!