Best Ever Eats: A Mouthwatering Food Guide to Borobudur and Beyond

Best Ever Eats: A Mouthwatering Food Guide to Borobudur and Beyond

Bite into the charm of Javanese culture by chomping down hearty meals in Borobudur and beyond under the new normal era

Exploring the architectural marvel that is Borobudur temple is a must, but venturing into Javanese culture would be incomplete without dipping your toes – or hands in this case – in its cuisine. 

Borobudur is located in Magelang, which is just an hour away from Yogyakarta – the culture and culinary hub of Java. Characteristically sweet and rich in flavor, Javanese food is definitely the type that will win your heart over and keep you coming back for more. The charm of Yogyakarta has even made its way to the global map for foodies.

As food is best experienced straight from the kitchen, it’s the best time to start your culinary adventure around Borobudur and its surroundings as dining in restaurants is now possible. Here’s your short guide to the Best Eats of Borobudur and Yogyakarta for a whole day.

Breakfast

Nasi Lesah Jendralan

  • Travel time from Magelang alun alun town square: 6 minutes on foot

Start your day with a warm bowl of Nasi Lesah. Photo: Naufal Muflih, Dea Betari

An old school classic breakfast dish of Magelang, Nasi Lesah is a chicken soup dish, similar to the ubiquitous soto. What makes Nasi Lesah different is that it uses a coconut milk base, making it a fulfilling, wholesome option to start your day. Served with tofu, beansprouts, cabbage, glass noodles and shredded chicken, it’s a warm companion to keep you cozy in the cool breezes of Magelang.

Find yourself a bowl in the humble Nasi Lesah Jendralan, a stall in Jendralan food court where you can try a little bit of everything in Magelang, like bakmi noodles, nasi goreng, and Yogyakarta must-eat, gudeg. The variety of options make this a popular place for locals to hang out whenever it’s time for a good meal.

Prepared right before your eyes, from a safe distance. Photo: Naufal Muflih, Dea Betari

When you order your Nasi Lesah, do as the locals do and add on skewers of quail eggs and intestines, vegetable fritters, or deep fried mashed perkedel potato to complete the experience. Don’t forget to pair it with a freshly squeezed orange juice and you’ll be ready to conquer the day!

At Nasi Lesah Jendralan, masks are required to be worn at all times (except when you’re eating, of course) and the food court is equipped with hand washing stations, so keep your hands clean pre and post meal. 

Kupat Tahu Pojok

  • Travel time from Magelang alun alun town square: 5 minutes on foot

Let the mix of flavors and textures of Kupat Tahu spoil your taste buds. Photo: Naufal Muflih, Dea Betari

Found in every street of Magelang, Kupat Tahu is the go-to breakfast dish for locals of all ages and backgrounds. The delightful cubed rice cake dish with tofu, beansprouts, cabbage and celery has a soup-like peanut-based gravy that’s mixed with sweet soy sauce, making it a great option for vegetarians. If you like it spicy, top yours off with the local sambal and feel the kick that keeps you going for more!

One place that you must try this dish from is at the iconic Kupat Tahu Pojok. Located in central Magelang, this fuss-free joint was opened in 1942 and has been graced by the visits of former presidents and celebrities and specializes in one thing: kupat tahu.

Known best for its simple flavors and humble facade that stood through time. Photo: Naufal Muflih, Dea Betari

With almost 80 years under their belt, the taste of Kupat Tahu Pojok is unlike any other. Their recipe has remained unchanged and has now been passed down to three generations; even their ingredient suppliers up to now have been the same! The family-owned establishment also still makes the peanut gravy by hand, a ritual that remained the same since their humble pushcart beginnings.

Kupat Tahu Pojok has garnered the likes of travelers from all over the country, and the ever growing popularity of this place has gained them an award from the mayor for helping put Magelang on the culinary map. Health protocols here are strictly enforced with wearing masks a requirement for everyone, including restaurant workers, and physically distanced seatings. 

Lunch

Sate Klathak Pak Pong

  • Travel time from Yogyakarta’s Malioboro road: 30 minutes by car

A mouthwatering serving of Sate Klathak for one, with the quintessential sweet soy sauce. Photo: Naufal Muflih, Dea Betari

You haven’t truly been to Indonesia until you’ve had a good plate of sate, or grilled skewered meats. And in Yogyakarta, that dish would be Sate Klathak. Made from mutton with a salt marinade, this tender dish is typically served with a flavorful gulai curry soup. The name of the dish is derived from the onomatopoeic sounds of the salt cracking as the meat cooks over the charcoal fire. What makes the dish even more unique is their use of bicycle spokes, as a way to cook the meat evenly.

Sate Klathak Pak Pong is the place to go to try this juicy goodness but let this be your warning: you might need to wait up to 2 hours til you get your first taste. But for anyone who’s ever tasted Pak Pong’s sate, they will all say that the wait is all worth it in the end.

The mouthwatering aroma of grilled meat fills the room in Sate Pak Pong. Photo: Naufal Muflih, Dea Betari

The recipe at Pak Pong hasn’t changed since the 1960s. Their secret to tender, juicy mutton is that their meats are cut fresh every morning to cater to their hundreds of diners everyday. When you’re here, another dish you must try is their tongseng, or mutton stew for a wholesome flavor of sweet and savory.

From generations of loyal customers, to curious travelers from all over the country, Sate Klathak Pak Pong is the type of establishment that everyone will recommend in Yogyakarta. And during your visit, remember that the restaurant follows the mandatory masks on location rule so keep your masks on at all times. You are also required to wash your hands before you enter at their hand washing stations. Cashless payments are preferred here, so keep your cards ready.

Gudeg Bu Tjitro

  • Travel time from Yogyakarta’s Malioboro road: 16 minutes by car

A plate of wholesome gudeg, the epitome of a Javanese grandma’s cooking. Photo: Naufal Muflih, Dea Betari

When you think of Yogyakarta, you think of the sweet, comforting taste of Gudeg. This traditional dish has been synonymous with the Javanese city and a staple dish that can be found in the city, including Borobudur. Cooked in palm sugar and coconut milk stewed for hours, this vegetarian-friendly young jackfruit dish is characteristically known for its slow cooking method that’s truly an essence of Javanese culture.

The iconic front of Gudeg Bu Tjitro is unmissable for any passersby. Photo: Naufal Muflih, Dea Betari

Gudeg is a serious business in Yogyakarta and some gudeg eateries have even been established for almost 100 years, including Gudeg Bu Tjitro. Started in 1925, the restaurant has kept its original recipe until today, garnering generations of loyal customers throughout the years. Its popularity has turned this eatery into an establishment fit for 400 hungry diners.

As gudeg is typically eaten with other Javanese dishes, pair your warm plate of rice with iconic specials like the thick spicy cow hide sambal krecek, the flavorful coconut-milk based opor ayam chicken stew, and the sweet soy-based tofu and tempeh bacem. Although Javanese food is known for its distinct sweetness, the dishes at Gudeg Bu Tjitro land its ratio just right on the palate.

If you can’t get enough of Gudeg Bu Tjitro’s homey flavors, you can bring it home with their canned gudeg that’s also perfect as souvenirs for loved ones. Make sure you get home safe by staying safe throughout your dining experience and keep your masks on. Pay your meals safely by keeping it cashless and remember to wash your hands before you enter.

Dinner

Bakmi Kadin

  • Travel time from Yogyakarta’s Malioboro road: 7 minutes by car

End your night with a plate of Bakmi Godhog to complete your Javanese experience. Photo: Naufal Muflih, Dea Betari

No trip to Yogyakarta or Borobudur would be complete without a hearty bowl of Bakmi Jawa. This ubiquitous Javanese-style noodle is famous for its roasted flavor as it is typically made over a flaming charcoal fire, which you can pick between three kinds: the soupy godhog, the reduced soup nyemek, and the fried goreng style.

To get the best taste of Bakmi Jawa, there’s no better place to go than Bakmi Kadin. This legendary bakmi warung stall has been around since 1942 and gained its popularity due to its humble flavors and each order is individually made per wok. It’s no wonder that it’s also famously known as a place to test your hunger and patience, as you might need to wait 60 minutes till your first bite.

The only way to know your Bakmi Jawa is authentic is if it’s cooked under a charcoal fire. Photo: Naufal Muflih, Dea Betari

Made with shredded slices of savory chicken, vegetables, eggs and thick yellow noodles, the soupy, savory taste of Bakmi Godhog is enriched with a rich chicken broth that will have you craving for it after your trip. If you don’t like it too soupy, opt for Bakmi Nyemek where the flavors are even thicker. Like it sweet? Bakmi Goreng is the fried alternative that blankets the noodles in sweet soy sauce, making it a great treat for a hot day. 

At Bakmi Kadin, you are required to wear a mask, wash your hands and keep your distance from other diners for health and safety reasons. Payments are still cash-preferred so remember to keep your hand sanitizers ready after your transaction. 

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 places 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 building, 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. However, domestic travel is open for vaccinated tourists across the archipelago, with a requirement of vaccine certificates and a negative antigen 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 Naufal Muflih, Dea Betari.
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