In a city as large as Surabaya, especially a city in Indonesia, you can be assured that there is high competition for the best cuisine at every standard from street food to cafes to International fine dining. For high end fare, head to the upmarket hotels or malls, but we find it hard to go past the tasty street food this spirited city has to offer.
One Surabayan speciality is Sate Klopo, tender chicken or beef satay covered in turmeric, garlic and coriander infused grated coconut and then grilled, served with a mild sweet peanut sauce. We enjoyed the tasty offerings at Warung Sate Klopo Ondomohen Ibu Asih, Surabaya’s most well known Sate Klopo joint, but be warned you may have to wait for a table.
In the north of town near Pasar Atom, an unassuming street stall Warung Nasi Cumi Cumi (Ibu Atun) does brisk business 24 hours a day serving simple but tasty rice and squid. You can choose to add a prawn fritter or other accompaniments to the standard cumi-cumi or opt for rawon cumi-cumi, where the squid is served as a black aromatic stew flavoured with keluak nut. Service was a little surly when we arrived (they are probably not used to Western tourists), but they soon warmed up and were asking for selfies.
Once you’ve had your fill, move to the neighbouring stall Es Kacang Ijo Goyang Lidah for dessert. Their sweet mung bean porridge served with fresh young coconut and a pyramid of shaved ice will, like their name have your tongue wiggling.
If you’re in the market for more rawon, you’ll find Rawon Setan (Satanic Rawon) on Jalan Embong Malang, perhaps fittingly near opposite the JW Marriott. Stop in here for bowl of the Devil’s own—beef in a rich broth ladled across rice. We’re big fans of the dish and had a bowl streetside here as it poured outside (inside seating is also available)—the scene was suitably hellish.
One of Surabaya’s more unusual specialities is Rujak Cingur, a dish similar to gado-gado with a “salad” of sticky rice cake, tofu, slightly unripe fruit, cucumber, bangkuan (jicama), spinach and other vegetables and (vegetarians beware) sliced cow’s nose doused in peanut sauce. Rujak Cingur Joko Dolog near the Joko Dolog statue is one of the most popular spots to try this unusual combination, but it’s a tight squeeze and can get warm inside this busy place.
Cool down at the breezy open-air style Es Teller Tanjung Ano a few doors down and try one of their sweet shaved ice desserts with jackfruit, young coconut, avocado, sago and condensed milk (15,000 rupiah).
If you’re not sure exactly what you’d like to eat, a row of stalls open nightly in front of Pasar Genteng Baru. We tried the New Muda Mudi Warung serving standard Chinese style seafood, chicken, rice and noodle dishes cooked up fast in the sizzling street-side woks. Prices are on display so there are no surprises here. During the daytime along this strip, a bunch of shops sell speciality Surabayan foodstuffs including smoked fish and sweet and savoury snack foods ready packaged to take home.
Just along from the market, take a break at Woroeng Tjangkroek Soerabaja, a cute old-style cafe with a sports theme. No fancy cappuccinos here, but local coffee and snacks with soccer on the telly.
With a name like The Coffee Shop, you probably wouldn’t expect traditional local food, and the fairly bland hotel restaurant decor will certainly add to that assumption, but Elmi Hotel’s restaurant is well known for its signature dish, sop buntut goreng (80,000 rupiah), roasted ox-tail soup on offer 24/7. Their popular breakfast buffet also draws a crowd of locals and not just hotel guests.
For a flashback to “tempoe dulu” (the olden days), Zangrandi Ice Cream was began by an Italian family in 1930. Today in this smart colonial style cafe their classic ice-cream sundaes are still a local hit and a great way to cool down as you explore the city (42,000–69,000 rupiah).
Being a port town, Surabaya has no shortage of bars, although we went looking for a drink in the early evening and there wasn’t a great deal to entice us. @Tab Eleven Cafe and Bar on the rooftop of Tab Capsule Hotel draws a few backpackers and was one of the more appealing spots with breezy views over the river and not too pricey beer (30,000 rupiah for small, 50,000 rupiah for large), although that was the extent of their alcoholic beverages. If they just kill the karaoke, it would be even better.
If you’d prefer a tipple other than (and as well as) beer, despite the name, Sobriety Cafe and Bar offer a selection of (alcoholic) cocktails or if you’d prefer to adhere to the designation, mocktails are on offer too with live music most nights.
Colours Pub and Restaurant is a vast late night venue with regular live bands. Drinks are pricey, and it’s not worth going before 23:00, but you can stay late and dance (almost) till dawn, or so we believe, as it was pretty dead when we dropped by early in the evening.
@Tab Eleven Cafe and Bar Rooftop Tab Capsule Hotel; 11D Jalan Kayoon, Surabaya; T: (0135) 454 000, (0811) 311 0822; https://tabcapsulehotel.com/about-us/ Mo–Su: 17:00–24:00.
Colours Pub and Restaurant 81 Jalan Sumatera, Surabaya; T: (0315) 030 562, (0811) 345 8181; Mo–Su: 18:00–03:00.
Es Kacang Ijo Goyang Lidah Jalan Waspada, Surabaya; Mo–Su: 18:30–01:00.
Es Teller Tanjung Ano 7 Jalan Taman Apsari, Surabaya; T: (0315) 318 335, (0315) 328 335; Mo–Su: 12:00–22:00 .
New Muda Mudi Warung Jalan Genteng Besar, Surabaya; T: (0878) 5222 7600, (0317) 189 7897; .
Rawon Setan Jalan Embong Malang, opposite JW Marriott, Surabaya; T: (0812) 3111 8190; .
Rujak Cingur Joko Dolog Jalan Taman Apsari; Mo–Su: 10:00–16:00.
Sobriety Cafe and Bar 29 Jalan Raya Gubeng, Surabaya; T: (0315) 013 000; Mo–Su: 11:00–01:00.
The Coffee Shop Elmi Hotel, 42–44 Jalan Panglima Sudirman, Surabaya; T: (0315) 322 571; http://www.elmihotel.co.id Mo–Su: 24 hours.
Warung Nasi Cumi Cumi (Ibu Atun) 28 Jalan Waspada; T: (0817) 0331 8735, (0812) 3313 5455; Mo–Su: 24 hours.
Warung Sate Klopo Ondomohen Ibu Asih 35 Jalan Walikota Mustajab, Surabaya; Mo–Su: 06:30–23:00.
Woroeng Tjangkroek Soerabaja 102 Jalan Genteng Besar; Mo–Fr: 11:00–14:00 Sa–Su: 11:00–24:00.
Zangrandi Ice Cream 15 Jalan Yos Sudarso, Surabaya; T: (0315) 345 820, (0315) 461 490; Mo–Su: 10:00–22:00.
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.