What is Street Food? It is something that you do not want to skip. From the very simple warung on the sidewalk to the small food stalls on wheels, to the motorbikes with a gas cooker, the locals have found many diverse ways to serve warm and fresh food that seems to be delivered from the streets. Many inventive food vendors own “kitchen-carts” on wheels that they set up as the sun sets, one dish is cooked and served to diners who sit on plastic stools at makeshift tables. South-east Asia is famous for its street food, including, of course, Indonesia, especially Bali. Without having tried those places, you are missing out.
Eating in a Warung / Rumah Makan
Enjoy authentic Indonesia in Bali’s Warung and Rumah Makan. The Indonesians call a small traditional restaurant or sometimes also tiny shops, or a kiosk “warung”, which means “shop”. Rumah Makan means “Eating Home”. In both, you will be served traditional Indonesian food in a very simple setting. Some Warungs are wooden shacks along the roadside with a couple of plastic chairs, a table (if at all), a rice cooker and a gas stove with a frying pan. Authentic dishes from around the archipelago are available at fixed prices, giving you a cheaper alternative to the prices charged in restaurants and hotels, and making you feel more at home in Indonesia.
Rumah Makan and Warung are famous for a small number of traditional dishes that are cooked according to a unique (sometimes even secret) recipe. Indonesians often travel across the island to find the one dish that a specific warung is famous for. Do not be surprised to see a luxurious car parked in front of a warung, while the owner waits patiently for his $1 dish while sitting on a plastic chair.
Most warungs often have neither fancy road signs nor a website, are family-run, and recognizable by the lineups of people hoping to get their favourite meal. Sometimes they close unexpectedly because the food has sold out!
Warungs focusing on a more international clientele in the more touristy areas are cosy little restaurants serving a more extensive menu. Some bigger, well equipped and professionally managed restaurants also call themselves warung to indicate that they serve traditional Indonesian food.
Is the food clean and safe?
Generally yes! The demand for authentic Indonesian food is high, thus many warungs and street vendors sell a high volume and food is usually safe and fresh.
Yet sometimes, hygiene is indeed an issue. Freshwater is not always used in the old plastic buckets where the dirty plates are cleaned. There might be no fridge to store meat.
If you are new to Street food, it is recommended to take a closer look at the place you choose, before you venture into the delicious delights of street food on Bali. If you are blessed with a strong stomach, then be adventurous, try something new and spicy. If not, take it easy and slow. You might want to go to a busy place with a high turnover and start with a vegetarian dish.
Some warung owners have expanded and opened more comfortable venues, where seating is plentiful, kitchens are clean, and food is always available.
Authentic dishes from around the archipelago are available at fixed prices, giving the traveller a cheaper alternative to the prices charged in restaurants and hotels, and making him feel more at home in Indonesia. Try it out.
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