Malang’s culinary offerings will not only delight your palate, you’re also sure to be enchanted by the many quirky and visually enticing settings from swanky high end joints to charming old-school rumah makans. Expectedly, not all look as good as the tastes they present, but regardless you’re in for a feast.
We were not quite sure if we were walking into a museum or a restaurant at the delightful Inggil near the Alun-Alun Tugu, from the private room lined with old cassette tapes to the large semi-open dining hall filled with all manner of Javanese knick-knacks. Inggil serves traditional Javanese cuisine featuring seafood and chicken dishes, as well as an impressive selection of delicious side dishes and spicy sambal accompaniments. We tried udang bakar (barbecued prawns) (30,000 rupiah) and ayam bakar (barbecued chicken) (45,000 rupiah 1/2), with urap-upap (vegetables with coconut), all perfectly cooked and presented, but what really made the meal was the sambal terong (eggplant sambal) (8,500 rupiah) and sambal bawang (onion sambal) (5,000 rupiah) which lifted these simple dishes to singly noteworthy.
In a similar vein, but upping the anti, Melati Restaurant, part of the high-end Tugu Hotel, presents first-class service 24 hours per day, in a truly romantic setting. Choose from a number of antique-filled themed rooms with an extensive selection that celebrates Indonesian home cooking, Malang street food, rich fusion Peranakan and Dutch colonial cuisine, as well as a range of salads, steaks and cafe standards. Mains start around 50,000 to 150,000 rupiah with pricier dishes like steak and lobster around 300,00 to 800,000 rupiah. It may take a while to study the menu as 12 versions of nasi goreng are on offer and you can choose from as many different sambals just as an example. One of the best dining experiences in town.
Toko Oen near the Alun-Alun has been a local landmark since 1930. It is a part of a chain that originated in Yogyakarta, and this popular old-school eatery has changed little since its beginning. The menu offers generous portions of Indonesian favourites (30,000 to 60,000 rupiah) and steaks (75,000 to 85,000 rupiah), although most folk come for the Dutch style baked goods and ice-cream sundaes (35,000 to 60,000 rupiah). They also serve cold beer.
“Legendary” local street food favourites encompass Warung Sate Gebug’s fat juicy beef satay that they have been grilling up since 1920 at their quirky roadside warung on Jalan Jenderal Basuki Rahmat, a converted power sub-station. Malang’s Pecinan or Chinatown possesses all manner of delicious and tasty options.
Try the Semerang lumpia (18,000 rupiah) at Hok Lay, Australian’s may think they are biting into a Chico Roll with these large veggie and bamboo shoot filled spring rolls or if noodles have more appeal, give the pangsit cwiemie (18,000 rupiah) with crispy wontons a go. Traditional soft drinks and refreshing aloe vera drink are also available in this charming old style restaurant that opened for business in 1946.
Depot Soto Kabupaten serves chicken or beef noodle soup (13,000 rupiah), and that’s pretty much the extent of their menu, but when you do it well, there’s no need to expand, though you can branch out and order the “special” version, soto istimewa ayam kampung (16,000 rupiah). Warung Brintik is another oldie but a goodie, since 1942 their speciality has been rawon, a beef stew flavoured with black keluak nuts. These nuts must be fermented to produce their truffle-like flavour and eliminate toxins which would make them otherwise inedible.
If you’re still hungry, grab a stool on the pavement and tuck into a bowl of orem-orem from Orem-orem Pak H. Moh Syahri Pertukangan (the name is as big a mouthful as the dish) this dish of sticky rice cake, bean sprouts and crumbled tempe in a coconut based mild sweet curry is sure to put a lining on your stomach. Try their mendol too, a ball of spicy fried tempeh that is a Malang speciality.
Also in Malang’s Chinatown, is you’re a beef-inclined traveller, the Rawon at Depot Rawon Nguling is the business. We had a bowl and would have had another if not for the fact we’d already eaten five times that day. The restaurant is traditional in style and while it may look closed from the street (they sort of block the front door, we think because of the traffic noise) persist and you will be rewarded.
A little south of town Soto Ayam Lombok in Jalan Lombok, is good for a late night snack. Here serving the same chicken soup since 1955, and boy the sambal is good. To the north of town, Bakso Bakar Pak Man has queues daily for his tasty grilled beef meatballs (10 for 30,000 rupiah or 15 for 45,000 rupiah). Steamed meatballs and tofu are also on offer, but it’s the grilled bakso with special spicy sauce that have made this stall famous. In the same area, Warung Lamongan Cak Rie a simple roadside joint serving succulent ayam bakar (16,000 rupiah) and nasi uduk (5,000 rupiah) as well as a selection of fish and seafood is worth the detour. Finger lickin’ as they say.
A little closer to the centre, Mie Buto Ijo serves green handmade noodles with chicken in an almost hipster style warung to any spice level you desire, up to “level five” with 54 mouth-on-fire chills added (don’t worry they also have “level zero”).
If you are in the Oro-oro Dowo area, don’t miss Ayam Goreng Tenes, in fact it’s worth the ride over. The chicken portions (breast or thigh 13,500 rupiah) are small and tasty, but here again it’s the sambal you come for. Try the sambal pete udung (with “stinky beans” and prawns) (25,000 rupiah). We were keen to try sambal kedondong (7,000 rupiah), but they were out when we visited.
If you are hungry and waiting for a train, pop into Ocean Garden Seafood near the station with Chinese style seafood and Javanese favourites. Here a variety of sambals are included in a buffet style selection. Oddly for Indonesia, their menu lists the calorie count of each dish, handy if you’re dieting (tip: if that’s the case avoid the nasi goreng!).
For more of an international fix, Cafe Bunga Bali delivers a wide variety of western fare, including some good pasta and soups, at not unreasonable prices. The beers are icy cold too. Open for lunch and dinner, you’ll find it in the western reaches of town.
If you are in need of a serious caffeine fix, hightail it to Java Dancer opposite Tugu Hotel who offer excellent single origin coffee brewed in a variety of methods. Their cafe-style menu features pizza pasta and burgers.
Popular The Library Cafe is a breezy hipster style joint on the western side of town that not only dishes up a decent coffee, but a long list of contemporary cafe cuisine and draft beer. MMMM, on Jalan Basuki Rahmat, also came very highly recommended, but we ran out of time to try their brews.
For a sweet treat Malang Strudel has branches all over town as well as several copy cats. Malang is famous for apples, and this chain was begun by a well know local celebrity as a marketing exercise to offer a local “souvenir”, so if you tell your Indonesian friends you’re visiting Malang, they’ll probably ask you to buy them some apple strudel. Ah, marketing.
For a more traditional dessert, we are fond of icy es teler, and one of the best we’ve tried is at Es Teler Durian. This roadside tent is out of town on the way to Candi Singosari, but well worth the detour. Folks queue in the waiting room type setting for this shaved ice confection with durian, jackfruit, avocado, coconut and condensed milk. Really tastier than it sounds.
Unlike some Javanese cities, it’s not too difficult to find a bar in Malang. Rumah Opa is set in a funky restyled colonial house with a long list of cocktails and beers as well as fairly standard pub food. In the centre of town, Houtenhand is a tiny hole in the wall bar, but head upstairs to their roof garden for a breath of fresh air. Live music adds to the draw. If you would just like a cold beer to enjoy in your hotel, Ranch Market supermarket chain keep theirs well chilled.
Ayam Goreng Tenes 12 Jalan Tenes, Malang; T: (0341) 362 553; Mo–Sa: 10:00–22:00 & Su:12:00–22:00.
Bakso Bakar Pak Man 19 Jalan Diponogoro, Malang; Mo–Su: 09:00–21:00.
Cafe Bunga Bali 22 Jalan Ungaran, Malang; T: (0341) 341 788; https://www.facebook.com/Cafe-Bunga-Bali-52807950508/ Mo–Su: 11:00–23:00.
Depot Rawon Nguling 62 Jalan Zainul Arifin, Malang; Mo–Su: 10:00–22:00.
Depot Soto Kabupaten 92 Jalan Zainul Arifin; T: (0823) 3807 3454; Mo–Su: 08:00–16:00.
Es Teler Durian 43 Jalan Raya Mondoroko, Malang; Mo–Su: 09:00–17:00.
Hok Lay 10 Jalan Kyai Haji Akhmad Dahlan, Malang; T: (0341) 364 513; Mo–Su: 09:00–13:30 & 17:00–20:30.
Houtenhand 56 Jalan Jenderal Basuki Rahmat, Malang; T: (0341) 362 526; https://www.facebook.com/houtenhandhouse/ .
Inggil 2–4 Jalan Gajah Mada, Malang; T: (0341) 332 110, (0341)980 2301; Mo–Su: 10:00–22:00.
Java Dancer 12 Jalan Kahuripan, Malang; T: (0341) 351 688; http://www.javadancer.com/ Mo–Fr: 08:00–23:30 Sa–Su: 09:00–23:30.
Malang Strudel 47 Jalan Semeru, Malang (plus other outlets); T: (0341) 301 2773; https://malangstrudel.com Mo–Su: 06:00–22:00.
Melati Restaurant Hotel Tugu, 3 Jalan Tugu, Malang; T: (0341) 363 891; https://www.tuguhotels.com/hotels/malang/dining/ Mo–Su: 24 hours.
Mie Buto Ijo 5A Jalan Pattimura, Malang; T: (0818) 0279 1999; We–Mo: 11:30–20:30.
MMMM 19 Jalan Basuki Rahmat, Malang.; https://www.instagram.com/mmmm.mlg/ Mo–Sa: 15.00–23.00 & Su: 12.00–23.00.
Ocean Garden Seafood and Javanese Resto 3 Jalan Trunojoyo, Malang; T: (0341) 353 436; Mo–Su: 10:00–22:00.
Orem-orem Pak H. Moh Syahri Pertukangan 72 Jalan Gatot Subroto, Malang; .
Ranch Market 80 Jalan Semeru, Malang; T: (0341) 347 100; Mo–Su: 08:00–22:00.
Rumah Opa 41 Jalan Welirang, Malang; T: (0341) 365 165; https://www.facebook.com/RumahOpa41a/ Mo–Su: 10:00–02:00.
Soto Ayam Lombok 1 Jalan Lombok; T: (0341) 366 226, (0813) 240 2770; Mo–Su: 07:00–00:30.
The Library Cafe 23 Jalan Guntur, Malang; T: (0341) 335 487; http://thecoffeelibrary.co.id Mo–Su: 08:00–22:00.
Toko Oen 5 Jalan Jend. Basuki Rakhmad, Malan; T: (0341) 364 052; https://tokooenmalang.com Mo–Su: 08:00–21:30.
Warung Brintik (0341) 324 539; (0857) 4956 3123; (0856) 4997 1004; T: 39 Jalan Kyai Haji Akhmad Dahlan, Malang; Mo–Su: 05:00–16:00.
Warung Lamongan Cak Rie 26 Jalan Warung Supratman, Malang; T: (0812) 5229 425, (0812) 3579 6265; Mo–Su: 10:00–00:30.
Warung Sate Gebug Jalan Jenderal Basuki Rahmat, Malang (next to McDonalds); T: (0822) 2844 4777; Mo–Su: 08:00–16:00.
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.