One of the things we were most excited about when visiting Yogyakarta was the food. We had read that the food in Yogyakarta was absolutely amazing. Unfortunately, we weren’t that impressed.
The best known local delicacy around in Yogyakarta is something called gudeg Jogja. Gudeg is young jackfruit slow cooked in a charcoal pot along with palm sugar and coconut milk. It ends up kind of the consistency of chunky sludge. Appetizing, right? It is often served with spicy cow skin, tempe, and a duck egg. We also tried a version of gudeg made with coconut flower. Neither of us were huge fans of gudeg — it is really, really sweet and the consistency is certainly not something I want for dinner. We tried it at Gudeg Yu Djum, Jalan Wijilan No.167, which is supposed to be one of the best places to have gudeg so, if you want to try it, that might be a good place to start.
Another local delicacy is bakpia. Apparently, nearly all Indonesian tourists in Yogyakarta buy bakpia to take back for friends and family as a little gift. It is a moon cake that was traditionally filled with mung bean paste. We, however, bought the chocolate flavor. Unfortunately, we found bakpia to just be “meh” — in a land where everything is sweet, this dessert was surprisingly not very sweet at all.
Thankfully, we did ultimately find two restaurants with Indonesian dishes that we would highly recommend. First up was Yammie Pathuk at Jl. Kemetiran Kidul No.63. This is a small little place not too far from Malioboro Street (maybe a 10 minute walk). There was no English menu and the staff didn’t really speak English, but they were friendly and helped us order. Yammie Pathuk serves chicken noodles. These are homemade noodles that taste strongly of chicken. They put chicken chunks on top (careful, the chicken is sweet like almost everything in Java), along with a couple of wontons. The noodles come with a side of broth and you can also get chicken meatballs (bakso) in the broth. They also had some fried wontons that I really, really wish we had seen before we ordered because they looked amazing. The cooking is done right in the main room, and the dishes are put together assembly style right in front of the customers. Order by ticking off what you want on a small sheet of paper — make sure you have a translate app on your phone as the menu is only in Indonesian — then sit down and watch your food being cooked.
Another favorite was Pak Pele. If you are standing in the park in front of the Sultan’s Palace, this place will be on the corner to your left. It looks like a food cart with a seating area. Again, you order by marking off what you want on a piece of paper (have that translate app handy again), hand it to one of the guys, then have a seat and wait for your food. This place primarily serves bakmi, which is a type of noodle. We had bakmi goreng (fried noodles with chicken and egg) and bakmi godhog (soup with noodles, chicken and lots of garlic). The noodles come in two varieties — yellow and vermicelli (you can also get them mixed) — we liked the yellow best. And, you have to try the peanut crackers that are sitting in huge pails on the tables — they are addictive and at only about 20 cents a bag you can go to town.
We also had ronde at Pak Pele, which is a hot drink made from ginger, along with pickled ginger, peanuts, and some little balls made with sticky rice with ground peanuts inside. Strange right? But it was really, really good.
Robert was also a fan of the local coffee speciality — kopi joss. This is a glass full of coffee and then they put some red-hot charcoal in the glass. You wait a few minutes, fish out the charcoal (don’t use your hands!), wait for the coffee to cool to a drinkable temperature, and then drink up.
Oh, and if you finally just give up on Indonesian food, we highly recommend Mediterranea for French-style food and pizza. Yum!