Best Ever Eats: An Exciting New Normal Epicurean Guide to Lombok

Best Ever Eats: An Exciting New Normal Epicurean Guide to Lombok

Travel’s back! Explore the exciting flavors of Lombok through its local cuisine under the new normal era

Home to enchanting beaches and the colorful Sasak culture, Lombok is known for their delightful spicy food that you can’t help but love. Although it might seem intimidating for those with a safe palate, it’s a challenge that you must try when you come down to Lombok.

Dubbed as the island of a thousand mosques, Lombok has garnered a lot of popularity for Muslim foodies. It’s even been named as World’s Best Halal Tourism Destination twice, encouraging locals to focus on finessing their culinary opportunity even more.

With Indonesia carefully reopening restaurants with dine-in options in this pandemic, let this 1-day culinary trip guide help you to journey into Indonesia’s Best Ever Eats destination of Lombok. 

Breakfast

Nasi Sukaraja at Rumah Makan Sukaraja

  • Travel time from Mataram city center: 10 minutes by car

Create your own stack of flavorful dishes for your plate of Nasi Sukaraja at Rumah Makan Sukaraja. Photo by Samsul Rizal.

Anywhere you go around Indonesia, there’s always a localized version of mixed rice or nasi campur. As an introduction to Lombok cuisine, try the local breakfast favorite of Nasi Sukaraja. Made by the people of Desa Sukaraja in the island’s capital of Mataram, locals have dubbed this as the legendary cuisine of Lombok as the simple dish comes with a thousand flavors.

At Rumah Makan Sukaraja, you can taste a wonderful blend of characters from their array of side dishes and of course, with an addictive kick at every bite. Their herby chicken variations have made their way to the hearts of locals as they are all made with a fulfilling, savory spice mix. Variations of vegetables are also favorites here, especially the crunchy beberuk eggplant sambal, an eggplant-string bean raw sambal mix. 

Pick between fritters, tasty proteins and delectable veggies to enjoy your Nasi Sukaraja. Photo by Samsul Rizal.

Most of the dishes served at Rumah Makan Sukaraja are spicy but not to fret, the restaurant also keeps a non-spicy option at bay like spiced grilled chicken or the soy sauce-based ayam kecap. Their stir-fried cabbage and fried potatoes are also wholesome, simple dishes that you can try, but you can always ask to add a scoop of curry for an extra dash of flavors.

Rumah Makan Sukaraja has been a favored establishment for years by locals, with its home-cooked style dishes with a thousand flavors. Here, safety protocols are enforced strictly and everyone inside is required to wear a mask when not eating. Be sure to wash your hands before you enter and after you pay as they are currently still operating at a cash-only basis.

Lunch

Nasi Balap Puyung at Nasi Balap Puyung Rinjani

  • Travel time from Mataram city center: 15 minutes by car

The amalgam of textures and flavors in a plate of Nasi Balap Puyung is a tease to the palate. Photo by Samsul Rizal.

A rice-based dish from Puyung village in Central Lombok, Nasi Balap Puyung is a delicious meal that’s made from savory shredded chicken, roasted soybeans, spiced shredded coconut and of course, a generous dollop of spicy sambal. Don’t be fooled by its humble appearance as this scrumptious dish is filled with textures and flavors that will keep you going for more. 

From the name itself, you would know that Nasi Balap Puyung Rinjani knows its way around in making the best Nasi Balap Puyung in town. The no-frills food stall has been a trusty establishment with different variations of the dish. You can have as it is, or add fried chicken on the side for an extra protein kick. There’s even a fried rice rendition of it that’s served with a yummy sunny side up if you like things more flavorful. 

Don’t say we didn’t warn you though when you try their shredded chicken, as it is typically cooked with chilis with local spices like aromatic ginger, candlenut and ginger. Topped with a sprinkle of lemon juice, this zesty yet spicy chicken topping is what makes this dish extra special and tempting people to go for seconds. 

Nasi Balap Puyung Rinjani has two branches in Lombok, with the other one closer to the airport. Whether you’re in town or just arrived at the island, be sure to get your hands on this before you depart. The restaurant follows strict health protocols and won’t let you in if you don’t have your masks on. Payments with e-wallets and debit cards are also encouraged for a safer dining experience.

Ayam Taliwang and Kangkung Plecing at RM Taliwang Pertama

  • Travel time from Mataram city center: 15 minutes by car

You haven’t been to Lombok if you haven’t had your dose of Ayam Taliwang and Kangkung Plecing. Photo by Samsul Rizal.

If you’ve heard of Lombok, you sure have heard about Ayam Taliwang. Many outside the island try to replicate it, but nothing beats the authentic flavors found in Lombok. This tantalizing grilled chicken dish is an icon and no trip to Lombok would be complete without having a taste of it. 

At first glance, you can already see the tempting coat of spices slathered on the grilled chicken – but this is no ordinary grilled chicken. Made with a spice mix of chili, aromatic ginger, prawn paste and tomatoes, the secret to its seeping flavors is cooking the chicken twice and smashing it with a pestle in between cooking. Ayam Taliwang is also characteristically tiny and typically served halved at the wings. 

Nothing more mouthwatering than getting a whiff of your Ayam Taliwang grilling over a charcoal fire. Photo by Samsul Rizal.

Just like its name, RM Taliwang Pertama is often the first choice for locals to get their Ayam Taliwang fix. The family-owned restaurant has welcomed generations of loyal customers who will vouch to anyone for their authentic taste. Diners will also never forget to order their kangkung plecing, Ayam Taliwang’s trusty sidekick. The blanched water spinach side with a spicy tomato sambal relish and fried peanuts is a simple companion, but takes the chicken to a whole new level. 

With over 50 years of perfecting their recipe, RM Taliwang Pertama makes no mistake in their grilled chicken goodness. Eating this dish is best enjoyed with your hands, so be sure to wash them ahead of coming in and after paying your meals and keeping your masks on when you’re not enjoying your lunch. 

Dinner

Sate Pusut at Warung Lalapan Santai

  • Travel time from Mataram city center: 1 hour by car

Chomp down your Sate Pusut and taste the yummy coconut milk marinade at every bite. Photo by Samsul Rizal.

Every region in Indonesia has its own take on sate and Sate Pusut is Lombok’s. The skewered beef specialty is made with a spice blend mix of coconut milk, chili, kaffir lime leaves and shrimp paste, and fried till a golden brown perfection. While this dish is typically served for special occasion, you can treat yourself to this lovely meal after a special day exploring food around Lombok. 

While Warung Lalapan Santai is quite the ride from the city center, it’s just minutes away from the Southern beaches of Mandalika. And there’s no better way to nourish yourself after some fun in the sun than Sate Pusut! Served with stir-fried string beans and cabbage, this nutritious meal sits just right on everyone’s palate. 

Remember to keep those hands clean by washing them at Warung Lalapan Santai’s handwashing station. Photo by Samsul Rizal.

If you’re looking for a fusion mix to your food, there are other Western food options to go with your Sate Pusut at Warung Lalapan Santai. With its range of cuisines, it has also become a favorite hangout spot for local and international tourists for a nighttime feast. 

Warung Lalapan Santai might translate to chill in Indonesian, but health protocols here are taken seriously. Masks are to be worn when you enter and their handwashing stations are open for whenever you want to keep those hands clean. Debit card payments are also available and encouraged.

Desserts and Snacks

Kue Abuk at Toko Kue 3 & 4

  • Travel time from Mataram city center: 4 minutes by car

Get a sweet, melt-in-your-mouth sensation when you snack on Kue Abuk. Photo by Samsul Rizal.

When Ramadan comes around, dining tables are always filled with delectable local sweets and snacks around Indonesia. However, you don’t need to wait until Ramadan to try Kue Abuk in Lombok. Made from shredded coconut, glutinous rice flour and local brown sugar, the sweet, rice cake-like snack is steamed until firm and melts once you get a bite of it. 

You can find it in different shapes and sizes but at Toko Kue 3 & 4, circular is the way to go for a bite-sized caramelized goodness. It’s also made that way as they know it’s best to go for more than one. Other than Kue Abuk, you can try another traditional sweet, Klepon Kecirit. This pandan-coconut rice cake ball is known for its sweet surprise in the middle that’s made from local brown sugar. 

Getting a bit of everything is the best way to try Indonesia's traditional snacks at Toko Kue 3 & 4. Photo by Samsul Rizal.

However when Ramadan does roll around, a special treat that you cannot miss is Kue Cerorot. This unique Lombok cone-shaped snack is known for its jelly-like texture and made with shredded coconut and local brown sugar. Wrapped in coconut leaves, it’s a sweet treat that makes the holy month extra spectacular. 

Toko Kue 3 & 4 specializes in traditional sweets and snacks and it’s a great stopover if you want to end your day on the sweetest note. Takeaway is all they do here but make sure you’re keeping those masks on the entire time you’re picking your sweets, and wash your hands after paying. 

Health & safety protocols to note

Throughout Indonesia, health and safety protocols are strictly enforced. Temperature checks upon entry is the norm across all establishments, including tourist destinations. Don’t forget to bring your vaccine certificates with you or have it ready from the PeduliLindungi app. Masks in public spaces are required all over the country, so double up and always bring extras in your bag.

While some destinations still allow cash, major establishments prefer cashless and card payments so have your e-wallets topped up before you start your itinerary. However, hand washing stations are required to be installed at every establishment, making it easy for you to keep clean after every cash transaction.

As of current, only international travelers on business visas are allowed to enter Indonesia while certain international travelers are allowed to enter Bali. However, domestic travel is open for vaccinated tourists across the archipelago, with a requirement of vaccine certificates and a negative PCR test result for travels by land, water, or air.

Kickstart your trip to wonderful Indonesia right now

This guide is produced in association with Indonesia Travel. 

  • All photography by Samsul Rizal
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