Most places (except for Muslim restaurants) serve beer, but not always cold — ask first — ice works. A few local dog warungs exist, but dog isn’t on the general menus, so don’t worry. If you venture out of Waikabubak sightseeing for the day — take a packed lunch, as there’s very few food options in the countryside.
D’Sumba Ate, in the southern part of town, is the only real “tourist” restaurant in town, with a menu (partly) in English, and pizza (60,000-70,000 rupiah) alongside the nasi goreng (35,000 rupiah). It was one of the few places in Sumba we saw foreigners. As you would expect, some prices here are a little higher (not much), and food is a tad less spicy than the local warungs. Nevertheless, the surroundings are pleasant, and toilets are clean.
We stuck with local fare and ordered cap cay udaung (stir fried vegetables with prawns) (25,000 rupiah), it was garlicky, and tasty but not mind-blowing. Our friends ordered the pizza and we suggest you don’t do the same. The pancake banana (not banana pancake!) (30,000 rupiah) was very nicely presented in a stack with strawberry coulis, but it looked better than it tasted. Avocado juice (20,000 rupiah) was excellent, and a better choice for something sweet. D’Sumba Ate is a comfortable place to it and relax, we didn’t feel we had to eat and run as you sometimes do in smaller warungs.
A little further west, on a ring road, Pondok Daun Ubi is the other fancy restaurant in town. Pondok Daun Ubi serves Sundanese food (as opposed to Sumbanese), a style from West Java, and caters to local Javanese migrants, businessmen, and NGOs. It was the busiest place in town when we visited. Pondok Daun Ubi is “lesihan” style — meaning you sit on mats on the floors, either in small huts over a pond outside or at long tables inside.
The extensive menu has quite a lot of seafood. Price for mains range from 20,000 rupiah to 35,000 rupiah. Fish is market price, and we paid 50,000 rupiah for a medium sized ikan bakar, which was perfectly cooked. Pondok Daun Ubi is one of the few places in Sumba that you can try the local vegetable — bunga pepaya (papaya flowers) (17,000 rupiah). Once you have ordered you are served a complementary bowl of daun ubi soup (tapioca leaf soup), the house speciality. They don’t serve beer, but are happy to open BYO.
Warung Pondok Bambu is a friendly Balinese run joint on the eastern side of town. Warung style, so not fancy but the food is excellent. We tried ayam bakar which came with lots of veggie sides, including delicious papaya flowers. If you’re sick of Javanese food and would like some Balinese specialities, they serve Balinese ayam betutu. Warung prices (low). Closes early.
Indonesia’s own fast food, Padang, can be found at Pondok Salero near the bus terminal. Point and pick. We tried the excellent fish curry. Fast. Cheap. However, as it was Friday lunchtime we were thrown out early, as they close for Friday prayers.
D’Sumba Ate 148 Jalan Ahmad Yani; Km 1; T: (0857) 3775 6606; https://www.facebook.com/DSumba-Ate-100726596925833/timeline open daily: 10:30-23:00.
Pondok Daun Ubi Jalan Djaga Ngara; T: (0813) 3788 7670, (0852) 3715 6886; open daily: 11:00-21:00.
Pondok Salero Jalan Ahmad Yani.
Warung Pondok Bambu 36 Jalan Basuki Rahmat; T: (0813) 5335 0800; open daily: 7:00-19:00.
Sally spent twelve years leading tourists around Indonesia and Malaysia where she collected a lot of stuff. She once carried a 40kg rug overland across Java. Her house has been described as a cross between a museum and a library. Fuelled by coffee, she can often be found riding her bike or petting stray cats. Sally believes travel is the key to world peace.