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So, I chose my final destination (well hopefully not FINAL, but you never know given the tribulations in Indonesia): Yogyakarta. I'm going to spend about four days there. (However, I'm flying in and out of Solo via Air Asia.)

I read in Lonely Planet, I think, that there are cooking classes there. Anyone know of any? (Preferably in English, but I could probably follow by sight if I had to.)

Also, where to eat? Is there a night market? Where are the hawkers? Any good homestyle Indonesian food restaurants, especially ones that emphasize regional specialties?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Firstly I have to warn you about Lonely planet in regards to food reviews/guides.


Lonely planet food reviews are awfully bad, the guides really love their pizza and pancakes and know nothing about good regional foods.

For the 4 days while you are there, visit the sites like Borbodur, Prambanan, The bird market, the royal palace Kraton, walk around the Batik making streets (near the Kraton)

Spend a night at the touristy Prambanan ballet performance on the Ramayana.

Or visit one of the gamelan schools found at Kraton square, they practise during the evenings.

The Dieng plateau is a little over-rated as it filled with rather tiny uneventful temples.

Food wise, Yogya people love their food overly sweet and spicy hot!

Try the pandang food, or nasi gudeng warungs. The better warungs are situated near the Kraton square, a row of them selling Nasi Gudeg, they are open during the day and are popular with Indonesian tourist visiting the Kraton Palace during Procession festivals.

There's the famous jackfruit curry Gudeg, the dry beef curry rendang, for street snacks try a kind of sweet donut, much like a soggy sugared krispy kreme. Try their fruit shakes like Avacado (avokat) blended with a coffee-chocolate syrup and thick sweeten condensed milk. The Yogya version of Avokat is extremely sweet and addictive. The other addictive drink was Susu Ga-merah, soda with strawberry syrup and sweeten condensed milk.

Stay away from Maliboro, the tourist portion of Yogya. You will get bombarded with tons of Becak drivers or touts showing you Batik 'art museums'

Along the main road to the countryside, are the little shops selling grilled meats, sate kambing (lamb) and if you are lucky, sata kuda (horse meat) or snake. the grilled meats are dipped in sweeten dark soya sauce with sliced chilli. The horse and snake meat usually eaten during the cooler months.

Ask around where they sell the snakes if you are into exotic meats. I was shown a snake in a duffel bag, the lady took the snake out to show it, placed it back in the duffel bag and banged the head with a blunt chopper. It was quite a show, killing it right in front of you before grilling in over the hot coal.

The little stalls are easy to mark out, just look for the sign that says Sate Kuda/Kambing.

Market wise there isn't really a night market scene around Yogya, the people tend to sleep rather early, although you might see many university students partying the night away. Yogya has a few big universities which many students around Java come for their extended education.

There's a traditional market at the countryside which is only held once a month, check with your guide, I can't remember the name of it. I was brought around by the locals. A great sight filled with live animals such as goats, chicken and other weird looking food stuff. Check out the indonesian men who love parading their prize wining roosters or song birds. Birds seem to be everywhere, so do check out their bird market during the weekends.

At Solo, check out the little cottage factories, apparently thats where the best gamelan instruments are made, and there's the famous solo tapioca and fish crackers, spiral shaped crackers which are found in every warungs.

At the Solo bird market ask around if there is any on-going bird singing competition, or any weekly cock fighting. And if you are lucky, you get to see lamb slaughterings, fascinating stuff!

Have seen too many animal slaughters in my time, although a semi vegetarian, i seem to be pretty immune to the killings.

Give us a report when you are back.

Edited by hsimay (log)
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Those fruit shakes used to be called "Ice Juice" back in the 70s when I visited Yogya, and they were also popular in other parts of Indonesia like Kabanjahe in the Karo Batak country of Sumatra, where I had a wonderful avocado and chocolate ice juice! I loved Mendut and Prambanan and also had the good fortune to see performances of Wayang Wong in Solo and palace dances with the gamelan of the Kraton Yogyakarta that just happened to take place while we were visiting the Kraton. I don't remember if there was also food associated with the dances, but I do remember eating well everywhere I visited in Java. Do you know if there are still performances of Wayang Wong (also called Wayang Orang, if I remember correctly -- usually performances based on the Mahabharata, with Arjuna as the hero) in Solo?

Michael aka "Pan"


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i'm in solo now. fly out tomorrow for one night in bangkok (ha! just got that song stuck in your head -- but alas, mine, too...). will try to hit the wet market in the morning before the flight. just did duta minang, a chain of masakan panang places, but decent quality. honestly, i didn't have a lot of especially good food in indonesia. it may just be my palate. i like eating foods cooler than most people, much like mexicans where it's lukewarm. but here, most things have been sitting around, even sate sits around. when it's made to order it's delicious, but it rarely is. had martabak my first night in yogya (like roti canai, but pan-fried more with more emphasis on the filling, i think) and it had been sitting. i hoped they'd make one to order and just had a couple on display. perhaps if i spoke more than a few words and phrases of bahasa i could have insisted. had martabak last night, freshly made, and filled with a pefectly cooked mixture of eggs, onions, and meat and it was terrific.

even stewed meats like beef rendang are often chewy. curries tend to be pretty thin, with rendang being an exception. the lesehan places on malioboro and places doing nasi campur are a mixed bag. it's quite random, i think, as to which are good. but none i visited were really any better than the duta minang chain. and no less expensive, i don't think.

one exception was ceria, possibly also a chain. this was on the road immediately west of the malioboro up towards the train station. this is a good road to find eats. got the best fried chicken i had in indonesia, plus fried chicken skins, at a warung here. (also got a 90 minute foot massage for 25,000 rp, about $2.50 -- and while it hurt like a motherf'er, it was probably the most effective of the trip, and i got one a day in thailand, plus one in kl.) ceria's dishes were fresh looking and tasting and had better execution than most. they also had a wadeng counter. yum.

so i have mixed feelings about my first trip to indonesia. oh, and btw, i probably ate 4 or more meals a day in indonesia, so i was doing my part to find the good stuff. best thing i had, probably, was some gado gado that was made to order by a warung on the next major street west of parawhatever. never saw it there again, though.

yogya's wet market pasar beningharjo is not one of the better ones i've visited. pretty dirty, mediocre quality produce, not many spices, cockroaches the size of my thumb or bigger, little fish and meat, etc.

also, duta hotel and duta guest house rock! and there is a laundry that does by the kilo just north of parawhatever on the perpindicular road. they even iron the clothes and deliver them to your hotel.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Did you have any fried kampung chicken??

I went to Jogjah (as some people call it...) not long ago, and actually ate better in Solo. I was guided by a local business associate that I met for the first time and it was Ramadan, so only ate one meal a day after sunset...

But the fried chicken... divine...

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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Yes, I did have some fried chicken -- a few different kinds. It was an easy add on at all the nasi rames/campur/whatever places. Although sometimes it did cause me to go over a buck (gasp!) for a meal. I did like all the fried chicken I had. It had the added advantage of usually being pre-cooked but fried to order. (I believe the local style is simmered in coconut milk and spices first, then fried to order.)

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