West Sumatran cuisine is delicious.
Home to CNN’s #1 best cuisine in the world, the mouth-watering rendang in Padang and Bukittinggi is now a common staple all over Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. But unlike anything you’ve tried in local kopitiam, the original Minangkabau cuisine here is prepared with a delicate mix of spices which are sure-fire winners!
Here are 10 delicacies that you should not leave Padang without tasting:
1. RM Gulai Kambiang Uwan Situjuah
Even by West Sumatra’s ridiculously high standard, this little-known eatery impresses with rich, savory blend of tastes. Their specialties are gulai kambiang (mutton curry), dendeng batokok (jerky meat), ikan bilis (anchovies), balado hijau (green chilli sauce)—all with distinctively local flavor and best enjoyed while enjoying a scenic view of the neighboring paddy field.
Padang Bacang, Nagari Banda Dalam, Situjuah Padang Ambacang, Payakumbuh, Sumatera Barat 26252, Indonesia
2. RM Nasi Kapau Uni Cah
You may have heard of the ultra-famous nasi padang with its pyramids of plates, but do not overlook the equally impressive nasi kapau. The presentation may be similar, but there are subtle-yet-significant differences. Particularly unique is the gulai tambunsu gravy, made with chewy cow intestine wrapping over egg and tofu filling. Of course, the rendang ayam (chicken stewed in coconut milk) and daun ubi tumbuk (cassava leaves) are absolute musts too!
Jalan Padang Luar Km 4, Bukittinggi, Taluak Ampek Suku, Banuhampu, Taluak Ampek Suku, Banuhampu, Kabupaten Agam, Sumatera Barat 26181, Indonesia
3. Sate Padang
Another iconic signature dish. In West Sumatra, satay takes on not one, not two, but THREE different forms! There is Sate Padang Panjang with its turmeric-based yellow sauce. There is Sate Pariaman with its red chilli-based sauce, hence its strong red colour. And then there is Sate Padang, which incorporates both characteristics.
Satays are so commonly found here, and they all have one thing in common, they are all tongue-tickling good! But one of our favorites is pictured above, Sate Mak Syukur in Padang Panjang.
Jalan Mohammad Syafei No.63, Pasar Baru, Padang Panjang Barat, Ps. Baru, Padang Panjang Bar., Kota Padang Panjang, Sumatera Barat 26219, Indonesia
4. Pondok Lamang Kawa Daun
If you are driving from Padang to Bukittinggi, don’t forget to make a stop at this little resting shack for a bite of lemang (glutinous rice) with durian or tape ketan hitam (sticky black fermented rice). Think that already sounds like a winner? Wait until you try kawa daun. If the rest of the world has a “tea time”, you have kawa daun in West Sumatra. Coffee leaves (instead of beans) are dried for more than 12 hours before they’re mixed with cold water for boiling on traditional furnaces (which brings out strong coffee smell) and it’s served in coconut shells!
Jalan Lintas Padang-Bukittinggi, Aie Angek, Sepuluh Koto, Kabupaten Tanah Datar, Sumatera Barat 27151, Indonesia
5. RM Keluarga
Right at the outskirt of Padang is RM Keluarga, famous for its gulai kepala ikan (fish head curry). They serve generous portions of meat. And other than the fish head curry, they serve all the usual classic Padang fares which will surely coat your taste buds with hundreds of flavors!
Jalan Parman No.231, Ulak Karang Utara, Padang Utara, Ulak Karang Utara, Padang Utara, Kota Padang, Sumatera Barat, Indonesia
6. RM Kubang Hayuda
The ultimate supper. The martabak manis (sweet martabak) is a safe-yet-winning choice to keep your stomach happy, but you should absolutely try their signature martabak mesir (Egyptian martabak) which uses thick pan-fried bread to deliciously wrap a rich mixture of meat and veggies!
Jalan M. Yamin No. 138, Belakang Tangsi, Padang Barat, Belakang Tangsi, Padang Bar., Kota Padang, Sumatera Barat, Indonesia
7. Bika Talago
Unique to the town of Koto Baru is this dessert cake. There are many vendors selling a bika, but one of the best is Bika Si Mariana which mixes its dough with coconut milk, rice flour, red palm sugar before wrapping it with teak leaves for baking. And the postcard-perfect view of lush green farm with backdrop of Mount Marapi will surely keep you entertained with selfies as you wait for the perfect dough to warm your tummy!
Jl. Padang – Bukittinggi, Koto Baru, Sepuluh Koto, Kabupaten Tanah Datar, Sumatera Barat 27151, Indonesia
8. Pical Ayang
Another secret favorite among locals. While their pecel is a classic, the truly unique combination of sweet porridge made with a concoction of lupis, cendol, coconut milk, red palm sugar, which is named “Bubua Kampiun” is the real winner!
Jalan Binuang, Kayu Kubu, Guguk Panjang, Kota Bukittinggi, Sumatera Barat 26136, Indonesia
9. Es Durian Ganti Nan Lamo
Wash off all the delicious gravy at Es Durian Ganti Nan Lamo. The most famous variant is es durian tok (purely just durian and ice), but you can choose other variants with ice cream (es krim durian), ice cream float (durian float) or avocado (alpukat durian).
Jl. Pulau Karam No.103B, Kp. Pd., Padang Bar., Kota Padang, Sumatera Barat, Indonesia
10. RM Martha’s Dendeng
Don’t forget to share the goodness with all your families and friends at home! Dendeng sapi (jerky beef) is an iconic delicacy here and RM Martha’s unbelievably crispy dendeng (comes with balado chili which packs serious punch!) has become the de facto food merchandise to bring home.
Jl. Nipah, Kota Padang, Sumatera Barat, Indonesia
Craving for more?
Here are other great Minangkabau cuisine:
- RM Asia Baru: For unique, strong-flavored black rendang unlike any other rendang you have ever tasted before!
- RM Pagi Sore Pondok Padang: For their fried chicken!
- Dendeng Lambok Padang: For more dendeng!
- Soto Rajawali: Soto Padang is also another signature cuisine and this is one of the best!
- Soto Pak Sep Padang Panjang: Another winning soto!
- RM Aia Badarun Padang Panjang: For baked chicken and asam pedas (spicy, sour sauce).
- Sicincin street vendors: For telur asin (salted egg).
- Pinyaram Berkah Sicincin Uni Sirai: For kue cucur (a type of cake).
- Nasi Kapau Uni Lis: If you want another winning nasi kapau.
- Itiak Lado Mudo Ngarai: Their top menu is bebek muda cabai hijau, basically a duck with green chilli sauce.
- Jagung Super Manis F1 Aina: For the super-sweet corn!
- Bika Palabian: For more bika!
- RM Benteng: For ayam pop (fried chicken) and ikan bakar (baked fish).
- RM Kayu Aro Solok: For another variant of dendeng called Dendeng Batokok.
- RM Lamun Ombak: For gulai kapalo ikan balacuang (fish in yellow curry), palai bada (steamed anchovy fish cake with grated coconut) and teh talua (made from a mixture of tea, milk and egg yolk!)
- RM Aie Bandarun: More quintessential Padang fares!
- Various easy bites like roti rendang (rendang bread), arai pinang (a type of biscuit), kerupuk sanjai (cassava chips), galamai (a local variant of dodol or sweet toffee), kripik pisang cokelat (chocolate banana chips)
What’s your top 10 favorite food in West Sumatra? What are your favorite foods from your own hometown?