Batam's five best local dishes
MANY people visit Batam in Riau islands for business-related purposes, while others make weekend trips to the resorts.
These short-stayers usually lack the time to explore the city's culture, food or points of attraction.
Here are five must-try and easy-to-find local delicacies that you can consider, so that you will not miss out on Batam's culinary delights.
MIE LENDIR OR MIE REBUS KUAH KACANG
If you are staying in the Nagoya area, this dish is recommended, despite the less-than-appetising name.
Mie lendir (slimy noodle) owes its name to the thick gravy, made originally from fried peanut and herbs such as galangal, ginger, garlic and red onion.
Slimy as it may be, the taste is sweet and creamy.
The yellow noodles and bean sprouts are boiled together with egg. Mie lendir is served with sliced chilli padi on the side.
Kedai Kopi In Star serves this noodle dish daily, priced at 8,000 rupiah (S$0.91). It is open from 6am till 11.30pm.
Best to go early before the dish is sold out, thanks to its pocket-friendly price.
This local dish, rich in garlic, is so famous that it is available on most menus in the city's restaurants.
The fried-chicken dish is crunchy and salty, without being too oily.
The blend of garlic and chicken is almost impeccable. Ayam bawang is best eaten with chilli sauce and warm rice.
The price ranges between 30,000 rupiah and 70,000 rupiah, depending on whether you want a whole or half a chicken.
One of the best ayam-bawang dishes is served in Xiang Xiang restaurant in the Baloi area. It opens for dinner from about 5pm to 10pm.
BA KUT TEH
The Singapore influence in Batam is evident in this dish, perhaps because locals are attempting to cater for the many Singaporeans who visit the place during weekends.
Ba kut teh, which contains pork ribs, is a good dish for one of those rainy days when you are feeling slightly unwell.
The soup is rich in herbs and spices and looks dark because of the soya sauce.
It is usually served with cakwe (you tiao - Chinese fried bread sticks) to dip in the soup.
You can find ba kut teh in many food courts in Nagoya or Penuin.
So far, the best ones serving the fare are the Shuang Hong restaurant in Nagoya Hill Mall and Mickey Mouse restaurant in Penuin.
The price ranges between 30,000 rupiah and 50,000 rupiah.
SUP IKAN BATAM
Batam is known for its fresh and cheap seafood.
One of the must-try seafood treats is the Batam fish soup.
It is usually available in two options - just fish or mixed seafood. The fillet used is from the snapper.
If you order the mixed variety, it comes with fish balls and shrimps.
The clear soup has a strong and rich fish stock. Those that have no problem with this sort of aroma will find the soup very fresh and tasty.
Try it at the famous Yong Kee restaurant or Sup Ikan in Penuin food court.
The price ranges between 30,000 rupiah and 50,000 rupiah, depending on the portion.
Whether you ordered them, otak-otak is usually served as snacks or appetisers when you are waiting for your food at an eatery.
This finger food is made from mackerel mixed with egg, sago flour, garlic and coconut milk. It is usually wrapped in banana leaf and grilled before it is served.
The variety in Batam, unlike many variants in Indonesia, is slightly yellow in colour because the mixture contains chilli paste. However, it is not that spicy.
Otak-otak is usually served with peanut sauce.
The price for each otak-otak is 2,000 rupiah. One portion of this appetiser usually contains five pieces, but it is your choice to finish them all or just a few. The restaurant will usually just charge you for the ones you ate.
THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK