Padang Padang

Dining | Written By, NOW! BALI-2 |

Sambals, both the fiery hot red sambal and the slightly cooler green, come gratis at the side of your plate. The main vegetable is daun ubi – boiled leaves from the cassava bush.Fried chicken, several luscious curries, fried tuna with chili sauce and several vegetable dishes are all displayed lovingly ready to be chosen. It all comes with a heaping serve of white rice.Dishes are cooked in exotic blends of spices, whose flavours have been carefully honed over the centuries by the innovative Minang cooks. They can take any piece of meat 

TEXT & PHOTO BY AYU SEKAR

It’s Galungan, Bali’s most beautiful time of the year. Ubud is shut down tighter than a storm door before a typhoon. Nothing is open, where we can we eat? Aha! There is always an option somewhere. Let’s go for Padang, that west Sumatran speciality!

It’s open. An array of plates greets us at the door. The world famous Rendang with its luscious, mysterious sauce and super crispy Dendeng Balado – dried beef pieces sliced super thin and deep fried to a heavenly crispiness then swathed with red chilies await us.

Sambals, both the fiery hot red sambal and the slightly cooler green, come gratis at the side of your plate. The main vegetable is daun ubi – boiled leaves from the cassava bush.

Fried chicken, several luscious curries, fried tuna with chili sauce and several vegetable dishes are all displayed lovingly ready to be chosen. It all comes with a heaping serve of white rice.

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Dishes are cooked in exotic blends of spices, whose flavours have been carefully honed over the centuries by the innovative Minang cooks. They can take any piece of meat – even the lung or the cow tendon and make it not only palatable, but sought after.

Because it is a matriarchal society, where women rule the roost, there has always been a tradition amongst the men, where they leave the confines of the home to seek their fame and fortune in other islands. Called Merantau, this custom is responsible for the proliferation of Padang food restaurants across the archipelago, many of which are spectacularly good. The best food of all though, is to be found in the many restaurants in Padang, the capital of West Sumatra.

Rendang was originally created to be carried with a favoured son when he left home. Dark black and almost dry, it is not the variety that we find in most restaurants. It is heavier, darker and redolent with flavor, and said to last for a month or more to keep a young buck going, until he finds a place to set up his new home.

Indian and middle-eastern influences can be discerned in the spice mixes for anyone interested in food culture although in a tourist centre like Ubud, those origins may be more difficult to discover. Having said that it is still a great feed at an affordable price.

Ubud Main Street has several Padang restaurants, the most popular with tourists being Puteri Minang while a little further along is the more traditional Sumber Hidup. Both are great and worth a try – a far cry from fine dining and enjoyable, nonetheless.

Padang food, originating from the fiery matriarchal Minangkabau folk has spread across Indonesia and beyond, to Singapore and Malaysia. Not only is it delicious, but because it is ready cooked, it is fast delivered to your table.

Traditionally, patrons will be served a whole slew of dishes at their table. They eat what they like and are charged accordingly. But customs change and in Ubud, where there are plenty of tourists, you simply point to what you prefer, and they serve it to you on your plate.!

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NOW! BALI-2

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