11 Legendary Local Dishes To Try In Batam
During my recent trip to Batam, I was searching for great local food places to visit but to my surprise, there wasn’t much reviews about food places where the locals go to. What was promoted online was mostly touristy food places that were already predetermined by travel agencies and restaurants that work with them. And in many cases, these places would likely charge tourists a higher cost even though it would still be considerably cheap with Batam’s neighbouring countries’ currencies. Still sound like a good deal to you? Trust me, the locals know where to get your money worth with better quality food at amazingly low prices.
Recently I met up with several locals, some who spends their childhood in Batam, several who has been there their whole lives, and one of them the recent successful gastronomical figure, @Batamliciouz as you may know him from Instagram. With that, I compiled a list of food places and the respective dishes that you should try when you visit Batam. These dishes are culturally embedded with flavours that make Batam the place it is today. The true taste of Batam exists mainly on hawker stall corners, outdoor food courts, shophouses and several in malls. Just a heads up, for my Singaporean readers, take note that 1 SGD is approximately 10 000RP at the moment. Here goes:
1. Sliced Fish Soup
Yong Kee Fish Soup
Batam is home to Yong Kee Fish Soup, an iconic fish soup restaurant that easily stands out against all other fish soup restaurants throughout Indonesia. The fish soup broth is clear, sourish and intensely rejuvenating to the senses. The fish used was a snapper fish and we had the Sliced Fish Soup (41 000RP) in small size.
Add lime to induce a concoction of sourish complexities. If you like to take sourish-ness to the next level, pour some brown fermented beans (we call it ‘Tauco’) to the mix. We also really liked the Fu Yung Hai (60 000RP), omelette with seafood and mixed vegetables cooked in sauce. These are the staple items we would order here at Yong Kee.
Location: Jl. Kompleks Business Center Blok A No 5-8 | Komp. PT. Hup Seng | Batam, Kepulauan Riau | Indonesia
2. Nasi Kari (Curry Rice)
Kedai Kopi Harapan Baru
Batam is rather popular with their street side food varieties and curry rice is one of the local favourites. There are many varieties of curry rice in this city but Kedai Kopi Harapan Baru is one of the more convenient ones that serve great curry rice and it is located near BCS Mall. We paid 22 000 RP for the Nasi Kari Special. It came with red cha siu, braised chicken and tofu, sliced egg, crunchy pig intestines, topped with curry sauce. Request for more curry sauce because we felt that was essential.
If you would like something else from this store, I suggest the Nasi Campur (Mixed Rice) or Steam Ginseng Chicken. I would also recommend another great Curry Rice place called Kedai Kopi Harum Manis located around Nagoya Hill area.
Location: Komplek. Penuin Centre Block OC No. 1 & 2 | Ground Floor of Hotel Harapan Baru | Batam, Kepulauan Riau 29444 | Indonesia
3. Luti Gendang
This little fried bread rolls with floss fillings will change your life if you haven’t already tried. One Luti Gendang is only 2500 RP, or should I say.. 0.25 SGD! These 25 cents would be one of the best 25 cents you’ll ever spend. We love buying several and eating them immediately, but we also love to take home 20-30 pieces right off the rack. The texture of the bread is like a crunchy doughnut and the flavour of the floss is sweet and very slightly spicy. These Luti Gendang would also make an inexpensive but good gift for your friends and family. Just reheat them in the oven for a couple of minutes and you get to relive that significant moment when you had Luti Gendang for the first time.
Don’t forget to also try the noodles whilst you are there. These noodles are food originating from a tiny island called Tarempa. Mie Goreng (Fried Noodles) Tarempa (13, 000RP) you can have a selection of dry, wet, or in between. The pictures below are Mie Tarempa Basah (wet) and Mie Tarempa Kering (dry) respectively.
Location: Jalan Laksamana Bintan | Komplek Graha Mas Blok J No.10 | Batam, Kepulauan Riau 29422 | Indonesia
4. Ikan Bakar (Grilled Fish)
Ikan Bakar Pak Ndut
Grilled fishes are popular among locals and you would see many fish-grill houses in many corners of the town. One of the better restaurants for grilled fish is Ikan Bakar Pak N’dut which directly translates to ‘Grilled Fish Mister Fat’. We can only assume that a guy with a big belly started out this fish-grill house. Upon entering the food place, the waiter will lead you to a list of fishes stored in ice boxes where you can pick the types of fishes that you desire. Once chosen, they would grill these fishes on a charcoal griller old-school style. Its similar to grilling satays but its fishes in replacement of them. As you know Indonesians love spicy food and the stand out item throughout the whole meal was the fresh green chilli sauce. It elevates the flavour of the fishes greatly.
Location: Jl. Raja Ali H. | Komplek Inti Sakti Blok E, No. 1-2 | Batam, Kepulauan Riau 29432 | Indonesia
5. Pempek (Fried Fish Cake)
Pempek or Empek-Empek is a traditional Indonesian dish, specifically from Palembang in South Sumatra. Batam is home to Citra Pempek and although they serve other local dishes, the pempek is the dish to try. Pempek are fish cakes cooked with cheap ground fish meat and water, salt and tapioca. They come in many forms like the ones we ordered below; Kapal Selam (submarine pempek); Kulit (pempek skin), Lenjer (long cyndrical shaped pempek). The Kapal Selam pempek is the most sought out empek-empek with chicken egg wrapped around the dough before being cooked. The name is derived from a submarine because its shape resembles the egg being protected by the shell of the pempek. There are other variations of empek-empek like Pempek tahu (pempek bean curd) or Pempek keriting (curly pempek). Take your pick and they would serve it to you in one plate. The pempek would be served with a clear black sauce made our of palm sugar, vinegar, salt, garlic and chili pepper. We paid approximately 50 000RP for these.
For a complete review, read here.
Location: Jl. Teuku Umar | Nagoya Hill | Batam, Kepulauan Riau 29443 | Indonesia
If local dishes aren’t your thang, you can visit the first Sushi Tei outlet in Batam, currently my favourite restaurant in Batam because let’s face it, Japanese food is that one cuisine where you can eat every day. For an Italian affair, try Bella Italia Ristorante, or if you live for brunch, then don’t forget to visit Anchor Cafe & Restaurant.
6. Mie Pangsit (Dumpling Noodles)
Kedai Kopi Harum
The idea of Mie Pangsit or Bakmie is similar to Singapore’s Bak Chor Mee and Wanton Mee but the noodles and toppings are different. Batam is packed with noodle houses as such, but Mie Pangsit Harum is said to be one of the best ones Batam has got to offer. Trust me, the locals would agree! The bowl is inclusive of cha shu, minced pork, boiled vegetables and bean sprouts. The noodles are self made so the texture of the noodles is really something to look out for as it stands out from its competitors. The Mie Pangsit comes in normal or jumbo sized for more noodles. This restaurant is one of our favourites in Batam. I have also made a review on Mie Pangsit Harum previously, click here to read more.
Location: Jl. Raja Ali Haji, Lubuk Baja Kota | Komp. Inti Sakti Blok D No. 10 | Batam, Kepulauan Riau 29444 | Indonesia
7. Cha Kue Otah (Chai Tau Kue With Otah)
Food Court at Perumahan Batam Park
Food court style Singapore adapted Chai Tau Kue but with a twist, we recommend the Cha Kue Otah, a relatively simple dish but the taste would burst through heavens. The plate of plain Cha Kue is 15 000RP, and we would urge you to please add an egg at only 2 000RP, and maybe about three to four otah at only 3 000RP each. @Batamliciouz brought us here one night and we would be coming here always. Do not be fooled by the looks of it, it tasted so much better than it looks!
Location: Komplek Perumahan Batam Park (At Old Acia Mas) | Lubuk Baja Kota | Batam, Kepulauan Riau 29444 | Indonesia
8. Bak Kut Teh
Shuang Hong Bak Kut Teh
A Bak Kut Teh set consisting of pork ribs, pork slice and ground pork balls in a sweet yet salty broth is another one place to check off your list. We ordered the set of bak kut teh, cak kwe/ you tiao, and rice for about 50 000RP. If you are a Bak Kut Teh lover like we do, you have to try this. The ground pork balls and pork ribs were killer delicious. In Batam, black broth Bak Kut Teh is more popular than the clear ones.
There are two famous Bak Kut Teh branches in Batam, one which is this, Shuang Hong Bak Kut Teh, and the other is called ‘Bak Kut Teh Mickey Mouse 66’. Hmmm… why that name? Don’t ask.
Location: Jl. Teuku Umar | Nagoya Hill Superblock SM – V9 | Batam, Kepulauan Riau 29444 | Indonesia
9. Ayam Goreng Telor Asin (Salted Egg Fried Chicken)
Seafood Ikan Bakar 899
Think of Seafood Ikan Bakar 899 as a street side zhi char (cook & fry) outlet in Batam. What’s really good here is the hefty salted egg flavour of their Salted Egg Fried Chicken. Truth is I’m albeit icky about meat and bones cooked together in the dish, but apparently the locals love a good crunch and having soft bones attached is something that they like. If you’re the more adventurous kind, this might be something you love. We also ordered Kang-Kung, Ikan Senggang that has sourish taste similar to tom yum soup, and La La Clams.
Location: Komplek Pasar Bukit Beruntung Blok BP No.05/06 (Sei Panas) | Batam, Kepulauan Riau | Indonesia
10. Ayam Penyet (Smashed Fried Chicken)
Ayam Penyet Ria
Ayam Penyet Ria is a fast food chain that originated from Batam and it franchised its outlet in several countries like Singapore and Australia. The ayam penyet in Batam is different than Singaporean’s ayam penyet. Batam’s ayam penyet uses kampung chicken so it is far less smaller and less meaty. But don’t worry, you can always order more chicken because its cheap! This is the true blue ayam penyet and it may come as a surprise if you know that free range ayam kampung are far more expensive than caged chickens.
Location: Jl. Teuku Umar, Nagoya Hill | Batam, Kepulauan Riau 29443 | Indonesia
Rezeki Seafood Restaurant
Last but not least, you would not leave Batam without trying out seafood by the pier won’t you? For the best seafood in Batam, I recommend Rezeki Seafood Restaurant. All of my friends and family whom we have recommended this restaurant to seemed to always leave the place in fulfilment and euphoria. The seafoods are so fresh and you can even pick out your own fish in front of the restaurant if you’d like. These fishes are picked out right from the sea and the restaurant stands on stools on the sands, standing on the shore facing the sea. Whether its simply steamed, or drenched in black pepper, buttered, cooked in Padang sauce or salted egg sauce, steamed in garlic etc. whatever your choice is, its all quite sensational really. I have personally been here many times and if you’d like to see a review on that, read more here.
Location: Jl. Haji Muhammad Saleh RT. 01/ RW. 02 | Batu Besar, Nongsa | Batam, Kepulauan Riau | Indonesia
I hope you guys enjoy this post as much as I am drafting it. Batam is a city with a huge Chinese influence and other indigenous people from various tribes/ ethnic groups. The foods here are well derived from this cause and other flavours are also adopted from different states of Indonesia. Comment down below if you would like to suggest a restaurant that I am missing out, I’ll jolly well make a part two for this post in the future. Also, please share this post to your friends and families visiting Batam, it’ll be a real help! Cheers.