There are a lot of places in Indonesia which are quite famous for the culinary. Each region has its own unique taste and recipe that you will never get bored to explore it. One of the famous places for its culinary is the Province of East Java in Java Island.

Consisting of several towns and cities, the province has produced many kinds of delicious foods and beverages to try. Before going to East Java for culinary exploration, check out the list below. It is a list of recommended foods and beverages traditionally from East Java that you must try when visiting the province.

1. Rawon

Rawon is a black beef soup dish originally from East Java. This is probably the most popular East-Javanese traditional foods in Indonesia. It is really easy to find a restaurant or street stands that sell rawon in Indonesia, especially in the Province of East Java. In East Java itself, Rawon is the most common to be found on the towns like Surabaya, Malang (Batu), and Probolinggo.

A Complete Serving of Nasi Rawon with Extra Complement (Source: Flickr. Credit: khengslong)
A Complete Serving of Nasi Rawon with Extra Complement
(Source: Flickr. Credit: khengslong)

What makes Rawon unique is the use of kluwek as its main spices. This kluwek gives the black color on the soup and unique aroma of the broth. Kluwek is a seed of Pangium plants. Other spices used for cooking rawon are shallot, garlic, galangale, coriander, lemongrass, turmeric, salt, and vegetable oil. All the spices are sautéed and mixed with beef broth.

A serving of Rawon consists of sliced beef, short beansprout (commonly raw but sometimes it is boiled), and prawn chips. Sambal (chili paste) is also provided as an addition to make it taste spicy. Rawon is usually eaten with rice which is then called Nasi Rawon.

If you eat Rawon in a restaurant or food stands, several kinds of extra complements are also provided for your choice. There are fried tempe (fermented soy cake), fried tahu (tofu), salty boiled eeg, sunny egg, or perkedel (fried savory potato cake). In several places, beef innards are also added to complement the sliced beef and the broth. But if you do not wish to eat the beef innard, simply inform the waiter while ordering the dish.


2. Rujak Cingur

Another unique dish from East Java which is popular in Indonesia is Rujak Cingur. Rujak is a kind of traditional salad from Indonesia. Meanwhile, the word “cingur” refers to the muzzle of cow. And yes, Rujak Cingur is a salad mixed with muzzle beef.

The ingredients combined for the salad are diced cucumber, yam, young mango, pineapple, lontong (bland rice cake), tahu (tofu), tempe, beansprouts, and long beans. These ingredients are then poured with sauced made from petis, brown sugar, fried peanuts, chilies, and water. Petis is a caramel-like sauce made from shrimps. Prawn chips and fried shallots are usually added at the top of the serving to enrich the taste.

A Plate of Rujak Cingur (Source: Flickr. Credit: Steven Sabini)
A Plate of Rujak Cingur
(Source: Flickr. Credit: Steven Sabini)

Another variant serving of Rujak Cingur is called Mantengan. On mantengan rujak cingur, only cooked ingredients are served while the raw components are left out. The vegetable ingredients are boiled and the fruits are left out. This type of rujak cingur is more popular than the usual ones because most people do not really like fruits on a savory meal dish.

Rujak Cingur taste savory and somewhat sweet and sour. It could taste spicy as well if you wish. The dish has unique aroma that came from the cingur. If the cook was not skilled enough in processing the cingur, the dish will smell weird. This is why it is not easy to cook rujak cingur yourself.


3. Tahu Tek

Tahu Tek is a dish made from tahu (tofu). Originally, the food was from Surabaya, the capital city of East Java. But you can find Tahu Tek at almost any towns in East Java. The main component of a serving of Tahu Tek is medium rare fried tofu. It is then combined with sliced lontong (bland rice cake), fried potato, short beansprout, and diced cucumber. This combination of condiments is put on the plate, poured with sauce, and then topped with prawn chips and fried shallots. The sauce is made from peanuts, petis, and spices.

Tahu Tek on A Plate (Source: Flickr. Credit: Indonesian Fats)
Tahu Tek on A Plate
(Source: Flickr. Credit: Indonesian Fats)

Tahu Tek has savory taste. If you like spicy foods, you can ask the seller to put extra chilies on your sauce to make it taste much better. And if you want your stomach to be too full, you can ask them to reduce the lontong. A new variant of Tahu Tek is now common to be found where the tofu is dipped in eggs prior frying it. This results as a tastier Tahu Tek. The food is commonly sold in street stands or traditional restaurant with the price ranging around $0.8 to $1.2.


4. Legen

Legen is a sweet beverage derived from the flower tendrils of siwalan tree, a kind of local palm trees commonly found on East Java. The siwalan flower tendrils are cut so they could extract its sap and collect it on a tube made from bamboo. This extracting process may take up the whole night long.

Legen farmers used to put the tube in the late afternoon and leave it there for the night. The next morning, they will come back to see the tube already filled with legen extracts. Before filling it with siwalan extract, they usually put some limewater on the bamboo tube to neutralize the strong sour taste of the extract.

A Glass of Legen and Two Siwalan Fruits (Source: Flickr. Credit: ndwiyoga)
A Glass of Legen and Two Siwalan Fruits
(Source: Flickr. Credit: ndwiyoga)

Legen beverage taste refreshingly sweet and a little bit sour. The word “Legen” itself was adapted from the word “legi” which means “sweet” in Javanese. The beverage is commonly sold on street stalls or carts in the towns of Tuban, Rembang, Pati, and Lamongan. You can also find it on the other towns on East Java, especially nearby the tourism objects.

Legen is pale white in color and is best served cold or with ice cubes. During Ramadhan, there will be more Legen vendors throughout the towns. Legen is supposed to be consumed while it is fresh, no longer than 3 to 4 hours after it is being made. Chemical reaction will occur after that, creating alcoholic substance that may cause dizziness.


5. Wedang Angsle

Wedang Angsle is another traditional beverage from East Java. While Legen is best served cold, wedang angsle is a warm beverage. The recipe was originally from Malang city, but wedang angsle can be easily found on other towns in East Java as well, especially during the night when the weather is cold. This beverage is very effective to warm up your body during the cold weather.

The Warm Wedang Angsle (Source: Flickr. Credit: Tika Hapsari Nilmada)
The Warm Wedang Angsle
(Source: Flickr. Credit: Tika Hapsari Nilmada)

Wedang Angsle is coconut milk boiled with pandan leaf and vanilla extract to enhance the aroma. Ginger is also added for the warm sensation and healthier components. Wedang Angsle is served with several fillings such as bread, fried peanuts, boiled green beans, and any other unique traditional fillings.


Need more reference about culinary in East Java? Please check out the second part of this article where we talk about more and more recommended foods and beverages to try on East Java.