Local Treats to The Legendary of Northern Sumatera Food Feast
In the island of Sumatera, culinary is one of the best exploration for you to do. It’s a heaven for a sweet tooth or a die hard fan of spices. In Sumatera, a mixture of Malay, India, China and Indonesia bring the uniqueness within their recipe of culinary as a reflection of traditional Sumateran culture. Stroling down to the northern part of Sumatera, Medan is one of the biggest city in Sumatera and a capital city as well. Medan is famous for its durian, a stinky yet delish tropical fruit. If you visit the city, bring back the packed-frozen durian is a must. As a tropical fruit, Durian Medan is one of the best compared to Durian Monthong from Thailand.
For locals, to have a sip of tuak – the traditional local alcoholic drinks is also mandatory. Made from Nira flower’s fermentation, tuak can be found in every corner of tuak stall called Lapo. Origins of Medan believe that tuak is the element to socialize and also good for your health. For new moms who start the breastfeeding, drinking tuak bring you a high quality breast milk.
If you think those local foods are uncanny for your digestion, we’ll take you to explore the sin city of Medan, where you’ll become the victim of the glorious moment of culinary trip.
As mentioned before, mixture of local taste with a bit of India brings us to district called Kampong Keling – where all the Indians gathered up together. Here you can find enourmous selections of local treats and also Indian food. From food stalls that sell murtabak or martabak, to a classy and authentic Indian restaurant. Our first stop is the famous, Cahaya Baru located in Jl. Cik Ditiro. Visiting Kampong Keling wont be complete until you grab a bite in this Indian style restaurant. Since ten years ago, Cahaya Baru serve up various Indian food with loads of authentic spices. Some of you might familiar with Chicken Tandoori, Chicken Tikka Massala, Roghan Josh, and Paneer Curry. Those chicken-cutlet meets the coriander, cumin and cilantro then marinated in yogurt bring the aromatic mouthwatering dishes. Paneer curry, vegetarian selection is also one of the popular dish served in Cahaya Baru. A mild Indian cheese cooked with ginger, cumin and most important ingredients, fresh peas. Its not really common menu, but here Paneer Curry become favorite even for carnivores.
To complete these savoury taste, Biryani Rice or Tissue Bread are the core to get all the best combination in Cahaya Baru. Yellowish rice with smells of cloves and cinnamon, or a soft yet crispy pastry dough dip into curry sauce are always the perfection. Use you hands to eat to get the finger lickin’ good sensation of Indian!
Before we move to any other authentic taste from locals, refresh your pallete with kulfi, a frozen dairy dessert made from milk, cardamon and piece of almond.
Move on to another place where you can found a governor, highschool students,reguler employee or even celebrities eat in a famous yet small food stall. In a neat, clean and simple stall, hundred plates of Lontong Pecal served daily to customers not only come from Medan but also along the way from Java or even from abroad. Lontong Medan Kak Lin famous for its rice cake that also become one of popular Medanese dish that can be found everywhere. But then, what makes this lontong – rice cake even more popular than others? The key ingredients of course locked up with Kak Lin herself, she’s the only person who knows the recipe and also preparing all the menu by herself. The core ingredients most of lontong Medan contains rice cakes, coconut milk, boiled eggs and veggies. But Kak Lin modified her rice cake with peanut sauce, stir fried vermicelli, tempe – soybean cake, boiled egg and veggies. This Lontong Pecal become the best seller menu at her stall since its opened in 1994. The peanut sauce itself made from a fresh peeled- peanuts pulverized with palm sugar brings the savoury taste to sauce. As side dishes, you can placed your order to fried chicken or clam satay as starters. Both salty taste brings the complexity from crisp of chicken yet tender and a bit sweetness from the clams. To complete your meal at Kak Lin’s, a glass of Tamarillo Juice. Slightly it tastes like strawberry juice but its ligher and sweeter than strawberry. Knowing the fact that she struggle a lot to maintain her customers loyal and keep the quality control as well, no wonder in 2011 Lontong Medan Kak Ani received an award from Board of Tourism and Culture of Medan as one of the most recommended food spot in Medan.
Seafood is a common treat for anyone, anywhere. Sometimes it doest matter what kind of seafood they consumed as long as its marinated in tasty sauce or proceed into another dishes. Medanese also consumed big number of seafood as their local dish influenced by authentic chinese culinary recipe. This is how Sari Laut Nelayan works. Seafood are their specialty, not only regular seafood delicasies like shrimp, lobster or fish. In Sari Laut Nelayan Seafood Restaurant, dim Sum become popular not only for breakfast but it’s an all day dishes. Fresh and tasty dim sum served everyday with various choices. Divided into two, sweet and savory selections dim sum can be placed as appetizer before main course or steamed and fried dim sum selections. For savoury lovers, crab and shrimp proceed into hakau or steamed dim sum always a favorite. Dip it with soy sauce or chilli sauce, you can taste the freshness of their seafood within. Or you can mix it to the sweet selections, a sweet sesame ball or the famous sweet lotus dimsum. If you prefer chicken over seafood, they also have their famous chicken dimsum. One thing that cant be separated from Sari Laut Nelayan is its notorious Durian Pancake. Yes, Durian is a big hit not only as a fresh food but also proceed as pancake. Don’t imagine a breakfast style pancake topped with durian. It’s a wrapped filled with vanilla fla and fresh durian inside. The strong taste of durian that dominate the flavor neutralized with sweetness from the fla. The wrapping is tender as well and that’s the difference between Sari Laut Nelayan’s durian pancake compared to others. Don’t worry about its freshness, you can taste the juicy inside in every bite of pancake durian. No preservative included thats why if you want to bring this pancake for treat yourself or your beloved back home, make sure to consumed it in less than 24 hours.
There’s no such trip without a trip to dessert land. Yes, ice cream, cake and sweet pastry cannot be missed especially after you filled your tummy with everything savoury. In Medan, one of the classical yet legendary place to eat-out is Tip Top. Founded in 1934 as bakery and pastry shop with a touch of Dutch elements in its interior. At that moment, that area is busy for business and goverment activities which controlled by the Dutch. After Independence Day of Indonesia, Tiptop still maintaining its vintage look at their restaurant. From the interior, we can see the candelier in the main dining room reminds us to old times that shows an elegant and glamorous life. Even though they keep the luxurious look maintained, Tiptop also put a little touch of local on their bench with rattan and wooden chairs and tables. The elegant meet simplicity on their look make Tiptop still popular until now and a must visit place in Medan. Now, let’s spoiled ourselves with the sweet treats from Tiptop kitchen! Since forever, Tiptop preserved their baking methods with wooden stove. It brings their cake and bakery to a unique taste and cannot be replaced by modern methods. It takes more times to bake it but yet its worth the pillowy-taste of bread and its smells. Grab a bite of mocca tart, a soft baked mocca cake topped with mocca and chocolate icing. A simple look brings the excellent mocca flavors out of this cake. For chocolate lovers, try the Irish Chocolate Cake. Simple chocolate layered cake topped with chocolate sprinkles, vanilla cream and cherry. This small bite brings a heavenly-mouthwatering explosion in your mouth. Those various selections of cakes and bakery might bring you to your childhood memories, where cake and chocolate are the only soulmate that can bring simplicity to it looks and taste amazingly delicious.
Tiptop ice creams also treat your sweet tooth to vintage taste and flavour that never gets old. Their best seller ice cream Mexicaner presents sweet look of vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce that frost together. Topped with chuncked peanut, whipped cream, peach and cherry on top. A mouthful of icy, sweet, crunchy and sour ice cream finally become a cherry-popped moment of dessert party in your mouth. This dessert experience could never go wrong with the cake and ice cream selections in Tiptop. Sure you need to bring some Mocca cake or Ice cake with you so you won’t miss how its taste for quite long time!
It’s too full to swallow more after delicious dessert experience. Sit back and relax is all you need to wrap all those culinary day trip in Medan. After all those legendary and famous local treats, let’s try the newbie cafe and sky dining in Medan. Located at Forum 9 Building, Harbour 9 Pub and Sky Dining become talk of the town around Medan. Maybe you wont taste their salmon cut steak or spaghetti carbonara for dinner. It’s more like a hangout place with a sip of cocktail and great ambience from their live music. Lots of expatriates spend their time here, to catch up some business talk over drinks or just to chillax afterhours. Spacious outdoor area might be the favorite spot for customers. Decorated with wooden floor and brown rope reminds us to signature details of giant ship that anchored in a gigantic harbour. From the top level of skyscraper in Medan, the city lights bring the dazzling view with warm night breeze. In the inside, bar table and their bartender are ready to serve you with their selections of mocktail and cocktail. Fruit lovers, strawberry, orange or passion fruit are the safest option to mixed with tonic or another fresh juice. If you want something creamier, chocolate smoothies with melt chocolate and whipped cream can be your best friend to complete your catch-up session. For more warmer choice of your favorite alcoholic drinks could never go wrong for the rest of the evening. After long way and enjoyable culinary trip in Medan, it’s a wrap-up to your full flavors trip. From the local treats that never go old and always zesty, to legendary vintage location with oldies taste that always be missed. Medan and its taste, will always be missed and drag you back to reminisce all those flavors.
As published on Maxx-M Magazine, March 2013 Edition