Skip the traffic jams of Jakarta and the crowded touristy spots of Bali and head to these Indonesian restaurants in Singapore for your nasi padang fix instead. That's not to say that nasi padang is the only thing on offer – have a selection of all your Indonesian faves or step out of your comfort zone and try something new. You never know, gudeg (stewed jackfruit) or soto betawi (coconut beef soup) might just become your next ride or die.
Stacked dishes brimming with signature spicy classics are displayed behind the glass counter: tongue-searing petai prawns, blackened grilled river fish, dengdeng balado (the beef’s sweetness is courtesy of a long, slow cook in coconut water and chilli), and racks of ayam panggang (spicy grilled chicken) that usually sell out by the end of lunchtime. The menu varies a little each day, so depending on your luck, you could be digging into an assam fish-head curry on a Tuesday and perhaps a sambal brinjal on Wednesday.
The queues form early and the tables upstairs are difficult to secure, but it’s all worth the effort. The spicy flavours are intense and vibrant. Seriously impressive is the tender barbecued chicken that is dropped into a sunny, coconut curry sauce, while the towering stack of tahu goreng is sweet, crunchy and peanuty, and the braised brinjal – coated with ruby-red sambal – deserves a plate of rice all to itself. Either show up really early or draw straws in the office for queuing duty.
At the prix fixe lunch ($18.95), diners are served up to 15 dishes within moments of sitting down. Each plate is filled with terrific Indonesian comfort food: tahu telor, fragrant beef rendang, grilled chicken, coconut-curried vegetables and satay. Empty plates are instantly replenished. At dinner, expect around 20 dishes for $29.55 more.
Brought to you by the same people who introduced the Renn Thai and Bali Thai restaurants, Bayang specialises in Balinese cuisine infused with homey, traditional flavours from the Indonesian chefs’ hometowns. Signature dishes include bebek betutu – baked duck with Balinese spices ($28), satay campur – minced fish or meat grilled on lemongrass sticks ($14) and ikan bakar bali – barbequed fish in sweet sauce ($29). Balinese art, modern drapes, pebbled flooring and charming Indonesian artworks decorate the place and enhance the essence of Indonesia in the cosy dining area. The alfresco space outside the restaurant is equally charming, so you can take your pick between the two.
Established in 1985, it might seem feel like a step back in time when you enter the restaurant with its traditional Balinese decor but stay for the food – there's a reason why the Indonesian buffet remains a popular favourite with many. The spread of Indonesian and Balinese classics like the satay, beef rendang, gado-gado (fried crackers and steamed rice cakes covered in a rich, spicy-sweet peanut sauce), and the mee bakso (vermicelli noodles with beefball soup) are enough reasons to keep coming back. On top of that, prices are pretty reasonable as well. Adults dine from $65, children below he age of 4 dine for free.