On the island of Java in Indonesia, Malang food is famous as the origin of bakso and many other popular dishes.
After sweating my pants off in Surabaya I realized why the Dutch loved Malang so much.
It’s a bit higher in altitude and the heat isn’t as intense. It’s known as the City of Flowers because of its lush trees and green spaces.
Like most of Indonesia it’s considered safe for tourists, and many come just for the Rainbow Village called Jodipan or Kampung Warna Warni.
The village is great and I included it in my video about Malang. But I came for the food!
And in Malang street food is so exciting to discover.
Malang Food Influences
Although it’s common to speak of food on Java island as Javanese food, it’s not that simple.
Java is the largest island in Indonesia and while there are common influences, food in East Java is very different.
Javanese food is often described as sweet and everything has peanut sauce on it. You’ll find Malang food to more spicy, less sweet, more savory.
And there are so many foods that are originally from Malang and others you can’t find outside the region.
Here are some of the influences that have created Malang’s traditional food:
- Javanese cuisine: Malang is located in East Java. Its cuisine is heavily influenced by Javanese cuisine but with a twist. You’ll find Malang food to more spicy, less sweet, more savory.
- Chinese cuisine: The Chinese have had a significant presence in Malang for centuries. Chinese immigrants have brought their culinary traditions to the region, which can be seen in dishes like bakso Malang and tahu campur. The use of peanuts in sauce comes from these immigrants.
- Madurese cuisine: Malang has a significant population of Madurese people, who have introduced their cuisine to the region, including dishes like sate Madura and soto Madura.
- Arab cuisine: Surabaya has a large Arab population as it is a port city and historically important for trading. They brought the tradition of eating different meats such as goat, which is very common in Malang cuisine.
- Dutch cuisine: Malang was a popular Dutch colony and vacation area. Not only are some words based on Dutch language but what they ate and how they ate.
- Indian cuisine: Indian traders and immigrants have been present in Malang for centuries, and their influence can be seen in dishes that use curries and breads.
What to Eat in Malang
Rawon / Boiled Beef Soup
Rawon is a traditional Indonesian food that comes from East Java. I first had it in Surabaya and wow it packs a punch.
This savory beef soup is made with so many herbs and spices along with a unique ingredient called keluwak, which gives it a rich, dark color.
The beef is boiled until it is tender and flavorful. Rawon is served with rice and a variety of toppings, such as bean sprouts, fried shallots and sambal.
It’s also common in Malang restaurants to see a plate of various offal and pickled duck egg. It’s at an additional charge, but you can choose not to eat it.
Orem-Orem / Coconut Chicken and Tempeh
One of the most traditional foods in Malang.
It is made from sliced and fried tempeh and chicken, which are then cooked in a thick and creamy coconut milk sauce.
The dish is served with sliced ketupat, topped with bean sprouts and tempeh, and drizzled with a flavorful coconut milk vegetable sauce.
The sauce has a similar taste to vegetable lodeh with a slightly spicy kick, and can be customized with sweet soy sauce and sambal.
Orem-orem is a must-try dish for those visiting Malang City as you may not see it anywhere else.
Bakso Malang / Meatball Soup
The most famous food in Malang!
Indonesians love meatballs, also known as bakso. While every region has its own recipe, the original bakso recipe is from Malang.
In Malang bakso does not hot have noodles, instead it has soft, chewy meatballs served with tofu, siomay, and both crispy and soft wontons.
The most famous and best place to eat bakso in Malang is Bakso President.
Ask any local and they will agree, this restaurant has been serving bakso for nearly 40 years right next to a set of train tracks so you can watch the trains pass.
Where to Eat Bakso Malang:
Jl. Batanghari No.5, Rampal Celaket, Kec. Klojen, Kota Malang
Teh Talua Egg Tea
Cwie Mie / Chinese Egg Noodles
Cwie Mie is a popular Chinese-influenced dish.
It is made from a mixture of egg noodles, vegetables, and meat, such as chicken or beef, and is typically served in a flavorful broth.
But like all Chinese food, there is a possibility of pork in the dish. So if you don’t eat pork ask beforehand as we found a few shops that included it.
Bakwan Kawi / Dumpling Noodle Soup
This Malang food is not to be confused with bakwan, which are gorengan also known as fried food. Instead Bakwan Malang is a wonton / dumpling soup popular in East Java.
Bakso and bakwan are very similar but not the same food in Malang. Some mistakenly think it’s the addition of fried wonton or bakwan.
But in Malang they also add fried wonton to their bakso. The difference is actually that the wontons are the star in this dish.
You may also find noodles in the dish.
Mendol Tempeh / Soybean Cake
When I first saw mendol I assumed it was a tempeh fritter, which is a common mistake.
So common that these soybean cakes are sometimes called tempeh mendol.
It is made from a mixture of ground soybeans, rice flour, and spices, which are then formed into small cakes and steamed.
The cakes have a soft and spongy texture, and are typically served with a flavorful sauce made from sweet soy sauce, chili paste, and other herbs and spices.
You’ll find mendol in Malang in food carts that serve rawon or pecel lele.
Ayam Goreng Kampung / Country Fried Chicken
Indonesians love fried chicken, and the recipe for ayam goreng isn’t a secret but what makes it delicious is the kampung aspect.
Kampung refers to countryside, so this is not your typical factory chicken but one raised on a country farm and has much more flavor.
It doesn’t have a typical KFC style batter but does have crispy skin.
Soto Ayam Lamongan / Chicken Soup
Soto ayam Lamongan is a traditional chicken soup dish from Lamongan, a city in East Java.
However, it is so popular you can find it throughout East Java and many other islands in Indonesia.
It’s a light tasting soup with shredded chicken, vermicelli noodles, and a variety of herbs and spices, such as lemongrass, garlic, and turmeric.
Sate Kelinci / Rabbit Satay
Sate or as westerners say – satay, is a common Indonesian food.
There are so many variations of sauces and accompaniments that with 17,000 islands in Indonesia there are easily over 17,000 types of sate.
But Malang is famous for its sate because you can find rabbit sate here.
The satay is made from lean pieces of rabbit meat that are marinated in a flavorful mixture of spices and coconut milk, then skewered and grilled over hot coals.
As there is not much fat on a rabbit the meat is full of flavor but not as tender as other sates.
And if you’re worried it’s too gamey I promise you that if you ate it blindfolded you would probably think it’s chicken or pork.
Sate kelinci is typically served with a side of rice cake called lontong and a spicy peanut sauce for dipping.
Where to Eat Safe Kelinci:
Jl. Danau Sentani Raya No.18, Sawojajar, Kec. Kedungkandang, Kota Malang
Nasi Pecel / Vegetable Salad
A vegetarian dish in Indonesia served with vegetables, peanut sauce, and crackers. It is often referred to as Malang’s gado gado.
Served with a bit of rice or nasi, this inexpensive Javanese dish is found throughout the city and also known as pecel kawi.
Pecel Kawi is served with rice, various vegetables like mung bean sprouts, long bean, kale, and cucumber doused with special pecel sauce. Its additional topping includes eggs and fried tempeh.
In Malang the nasi pecel is a bit different as it incorporates kencur, which is also known as sand ginger and it gives its a spicy but delicate flavor.
The peanut sauce has a bit more of a coarse texture.
Where to Eat Nasi Pecel:
Pecel Kawi Hj. Muslihah
Kawi St Kios No.43B, Bareng, Klojen, Malang City
Indonesian Vegetarian Food
Sate Kere / Chicken Satay
Sate kere is a popular street food in Malang that is perfect for those looking for a quick and tasty snack.
I often stopped at a stall to eat it when it was late in the day but not quite dinner time.
Sate kere is small pieces of chicken or beef that are skewered and grilled over hot coals, then served with a flavorful peanut sauce and a side of rice cakes.
Sate kere is a delicious and affordable snack that is perfect for a mid-day pick-me-up or a late-night bite.
In Malang you’ll find many students winding down the day eating this snack with groups of friends.
Bakso Bakar / Grilled Meatballs
If you didn’t have enough meatball soup you can always eat them grilled over hot coals until they are crispy and charred on the outside.
Another great snack, the meatballs are tossed in a sweet soy sauce (kecap manis) with a bit of other spices and a touch of sambal.
Where to Eat Bakso Bakar:
Bakso Bakar Trowulan
Jl. C.Trowulan No.65, Mojolangu, Kec. Lowokwaru, Kota Malang
Pecel Madiun / Blanches Vegetable Salad
Technically this dish isn’t a Malang food but instead from nearby Madiun.
Locals say this dish was created during Japanese occupation when the economy was so bad and they did not have much to eat.
You’ll see the word pecel a lot in Java, and if you’re like me and looking for vegetables this is a great place to start.
It’s a Javanese salad, usually in a portion of pecel there is raw cucumber slices and blanched spinach, bean sprouts, green beans and cassava leaves.
But pecel Madiun is not the same as its cousin gado gado and if you’re a food geek like me you may want to know why:
- The peanut sauce in Pecel Madiun uses kencur, also known as sand ginger
- Traditionally there is no protein or carb like in gado gado, which usually has tofu, boiled egg or potato
- Other than the cucumber the vegetables are blanched, which is great for those with an upset stomach.
Now there are always exceptions to the rule, some vendors will ask if you want a side of rice or rice cake to make it a bit more filling.
Tempeh is also a common addition.
Angsle Malang / Coconut Drink
This Malang food is similar to cendol and falls into the category of: is it a drink? a cold soup? a dessert?
In Malang this dish is considered a wedang or drink.
This Indonesian dessert has roots in Chinese cuisine, with a Malang twist.
It is a warm coconut milk base with a bit of ginger, pandan and condensed milk or sugar and many surprises inside from bread and sticky rice to brightly colored rice pearls.
While shooting the video we accidentally stumbled on the neighborhood that was the first to serve this Indonesian drink.
I didn’t think I’d like it when I saw it being made but somehow it all works.
Try it along with ronde, a ginger based drink that is delicious.
Where to Drink Angsle:
Angsle Ronde Rukun Pak Hari
Jl. Beringin No.8, Bandungrejosari, Kec. Sukun, Kota Malang
Drinks in Indonesia
Tahu Telor / Tofu Egg
One of the simplest foods in Malang but so delicious.
Tahu telor literally means tofu egg.
It is a mixture of fried tofu and egg, topped with a savory peanut sauce that includes shrimp paste and sweet soy for a spicy sweet flavor.
It’s topped with sprinkling of sliced green onions.
The dish is typically served with a side of rice and is a delicious and satisfying meal that is perfect for those looking to experience the unique flavors of Indonesian cuisine.
Lontong Balap / Rice Cake with Bean Sprouts
Lontong is a compressed rice cake that is steamed and cut into pieces.
You can’t travel Indonesia long without encountering it in some form as it’s a cheap, inexpensive filling.
But every region does it differently. For example in Padang it’s in a rich curry.
But in Malang it’s a gorgeous light broth topped with a bucket load of bean sprouts – which is so common to East Java.
Lontong balap is a popular dish in East Java and is often sold by street vendors. You can also find family owned shops that specialize in it.
This dish is also served with fried tofu, fried tempeh, black eye pea fritter.
It is served on a flavorful broth with a spicy and savory sambal made from shrimp paste, garlic and chili on the side.
It’s a common breakfast in Surabaya and a nice light way to start the day.
Rujak Cingur / Cow Snout Fruit Salad
Rujak cingur is a popular Indonesian salad that is a perfect blend of sweet, sour, and spicy flavors.
It is made with a variety of fruits and vegetables, such as cucumber, pineapple, and mango, and is dressed with a unique sauce made from peanuts, chili, and tamarind.
However, it is not a vegetarian dish.
It also includes cingur, a unique ingredient made from cow’s nose cartilage that is boiled until tender and sliced thinly.
Rujak cingur is a refreshing and flavorful street food in Malang. It is SPICY and offers a great source of vitamins and a bit of protein.
Fruit in Indonesia
Perhaps apples are not one of Indonesia’s most exotic fruits. But green manalagi apples grow in the highlands surrounding Malang are worth trying in local markets.
Sate Kambing / Goat Satay
For some reason kambing in Indonesia can refer to goat or mutton. However, I’ve eaten a lot of kambing and it’s always been goat.
East Java is well known for its quality of goat, which is due to the influence of Arab immigrants. And so I ate A LOT of kambing while in Malang.
In Malang they often serve it in three portions on a skewer and the middle is a piece of fat grilled over the hot coals.
I know westerners are taught to hate fat but this is the most delicious part of the skewer. So make sure take a big bite that engulfs the first and second piece.
Typical to Javanese cuisine, this sate is usually served with peanut sauce. If you’re looking for more than a snack get an order of rice cake.
Tahu Campur / Tofu Noodle Soup
Tahu campur literally means mixed tofu in Javanese. However, like many other tofu dishes in Indonesia, it also includes meat.
Vegetarians beware, although locals may say they can remove the meat you also need to know what makes that broth so flavorful. It’s probably meat or seafood.
In East Java tahu campur is a mixture of tofu, bean sprouts, and yellow noodles in a flavorful broth that often uses sambal petis udang, which is a paste made from fermented black shrimp.
It also usually has shredded beef or chicken.
Jangung Bakar / Grilled Corn
Simply put, you’ll find charcoal-grilled corn on the cob all over Indonesia.
But it’s not always good. Surprisingly I’ve had a lot of bad corn in places like Bali where it’s either old or maybe it’s just a lower grade.
But Malang has a strong agricultural background and grows fresh corn for locals.