5 Palate Pleasing Foods To Try in Palembang, Indonesia

5 Palate Pleasing Foods To Try in Palembang, Indonesia

On a recent trip to Palembang, one of the 10 things we did was to explore its cuisine. Palembang owes its food from the Musi River where fish holds more prominence over meat while its former status as a maritime kingdom attracted many migrants to live here and eventually brought a part of their culture from their homelands.

Here are five palate pleasing foods to try in Palembang, Indonesia. 

1. Martabak – Martabak HAR

Martabak is a common delicacy found throughout the Malay archipelago brought by Indian traders. These savory stuffed flatbreads differ regionally and Martabak HAR is no exception to the rule. Founded by Haji Abdul Rozak (hence the abbreviation HAR), this martabak eschews all the meats for eggs.

Two ducks eggs are wrapped in dough and fried over a flat-top grill. The resulting martabak is then drenched in a potato dhal before topped with pickled green chili. Having been accustomed to Malaysian and Singaporean-style martabak, I found Martabak HAR’s a bit unusual as the rich taste of duck egg can be quite overpowering. 

Nevertheless, the spiceful potato curry and spicy chili provided a good counterbalance to the egginess of the martabak. Martabak HAR can be found almost anywhere in Palembang but to get the original version, check out the branch at Jalan Jenderal Sudirman behind Masjid Agung.

Jalan Jenderal Sudirman No. 1,
18 Ilir, Kota Palembang
Tel: +62711355300 | Google Maps
Opening Hours: 5:00 am – 1:00 am, Daily

 

2. Pindang Patin – Rumah Makan Pindang Musi Rawas

Palembang’s subsistence of the Musi River has led to the creation of many freshwater delicacies with one of them being pindang patin. Ikan Patin, a native shark catfish, is boiled in a pindang broth consisting of bay leaf, chili, palm sugar, pineapple, tamarind and tomato among many others.

The result is a pleasingly sour stew with a bit of spiciness and just a hint of sweetness. As a fan of ikan patin, the tail I ate at Rumah Makan Pindang Musi Rawas had a good amount of meat and fat. The tastiness was made more prominent by the pindang broth that seeped and fused into the soft flesh of the fish after hours of stewing.

After the fish was gone, I slurped the whole plate of pindang till the very last drop. It goes to show how delicious this whole dish was!

Jalan Angkatan 45 No. 18,
Lorong Pakjo, Ilir Bar. 1, Kota Palembang

Tel: +62711370590 | Google Maps
Opening Hours: 9:00 am – 9:00 pm, Daily

 

3. Pempek – Pempek & Es Kacang Vico

Palembang is well-known for its moniker “Kota Pempek” referring to the whole city’s unwavering affection towards these polymorphic fishcakes.

Pempek is primarily made from sago flour and the boneless meat of either tenggiri (Spanish Mackerel) or gabus (Snakehead). It is then shaped in different forms, stuffed with eggs or become stuffing for tofu. My friend Haryadi Yansyah of Omnduut.com brought me out to a restaurant for a crash course in eating pempek.

Once we were served with the “variety” platter, I used a fork and dipped each pempek into cuko, a dark brown soy sauce made with chili, vinegar and palm sugar. Then, I have to “hirup cuko” like a local – slurp the sauce for that extra spicy kick. Although it is fishcakes, they’re so fresh and chewy I swept the whole plate clean within minutes.

If you’re wondering about the varieties of pempek, here is a description for each one of them, clockwise from right:

  • Lenjer – the most basic form of pempek, shaped into short sausages.
  • Keriting – this squiggly pempek is formed through a colander called “pirikan.”
  • Pistel – pempek stuffed with young papaya fruit.
  • Tahu – pempek wrapped in tofu and then fried.
  • Kulit – pempek made from fish skin and then fried.
  • Adaan – fried pempek, instead of boiled.
  • Telur Kecil – pempek stuffed with egg.

Thanks Om for the lowdown on the many types of pempek!

Jalan Letkol Iskandar No 541-542,
18 Ilir, Ilir Timur I, Kota Palembang
Tel:  +6282180916888 | Google Maps
Opening Hours: 8:30 am – 9:30 pm, Daily

 

4. Tekwan – Pempek & Es Kacang Vico

We’re not done with pempek yet!

After downing the plate of pempek in record time I was introduced to tekwan, a local adaptation of a Chinese dish from merchants who made this city their home. A portmanteau of “berkotek sama kawan” meaning “having a chat with friends,” tekwan is simply a Palembang version of fishball noodle soup.

Pempek is sliced and added to a shrimp-based broth of vermicelli, diced cucumbers, mushrooms and jicama before being garnished with leek, coriander and fried onions. The result is a hearty soup that derived its flavor from the shrimp and fish while the accompaniments gave some crisp and crunch.

Jalan Letkol Iskandar No 541-542,
18 Ilir, Ilir Timur I, Kota Palembang
Tel:  +6282180916888 | Google Maps
Opening Hours: 8:30 am – 9:30 pm, Daily

 

5. Mie Celor – Mie Celor 26 Ilir H.M Syafei

I wouldn’t be surprised that Malaysia’s Mee Rebus has its roots in Mie Celor.

For starters, the yellow noodles are blanched before being served and the shrimp broth is made thick. Even the garnishing of fried shallots, scallion and boiled egg is similar. The main difference between these two luscious bowl of noodles is the broth itself – Mie Celor goes heavy on the dried shrimp and coconut milk.

There’s not much for me to say about how tasty Mie Celor is other than it is just the right comfort food to have when it is raining outside in the evening. Once the freshly blanched noodles soaking in the hot broth enters my mouth and makes their way into the tummy, I could feel my body and soul gradually warms itself.

Jalan Merdeka No. 54, Ilir Barat I,
Talang Semut, Kota Palembang
Tel: +627115630501 | Google Maps
Opening Hours: 6:00 am – 5:00 pm, Daily

What’s your favorite Palembang cuisine? Did I miss out on any must-try food in Palembang? Let me know in the comments below.


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