Gourmet Trips Simple Fare

Nasi Padang the proper way

Whenever I went to Jakarta (or for that matter, Indonesia), I would always head out to my favourite Nasi Padang restaurants for a real treat.

What is Nasi Padang?

[Thanks to Wikipedia, for the information here, so beautifully written]

Nasi Padang (Padang-style rice) is a miniature banquet of meats, fish, vegetables, and spicy sambals eaten with plain white rice, it is Sumatra’s most famous export and the Minangkabau people’s great contribution to Indonesian cuisine.

Nasi Padang

A Padang restaurant is usually easily distinguishable with their Rumah Gadang style facade and their typical window display. Nasi Padang window display in front of restaurant usually consists of stages and rows of carefully arranged stacked bowls and plates, constructed and filled with various dishes. A Padang restaurant, especially small-to-medium ones, will also usually bear names in Minang language.

Nasi Padang is a vital part of Indonesian workers’ lunch break in urban areas; when Nasi Padang prices in the Greater Jakarta area were raised in 2016, Jakarta municipal civil servants demanded the uang lauk pauk (food allowance, as a component of civil servant’s salary) to be raised as well.

Nasi Padang served in Padang restaurants are easily found in various Indonesian cities in Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara, and Papua, to neighboring countries Malaysia and Singapore, and Australia because of Minangkabau merantau (migrating) tradition contributed to the dispersion of Minang diaspora outside their traditional homeland in West Sumatra. Based on CNN Travel, Nasi Padang is listed as one of 40 food that Singaporeans cannot live without.

Lots of stuff

There are two types of serving in a Padang restaurant, the pesan (ordering) and hidang (serve) method. Pesan is the most common way — usually done by a single or two customers — the customer examine the window display and choose the dish they wish to consume directly to the waiter in front near the window display, and the dish is promptly served. This is usually done in common small scale Padang restaurant.


In a larger Padang restaurant dine-in, the festive hidang (serve) style is usually done. This mini banquet is most suitable for dining in group. After the customers are seated, they do not have to order. The waiter with stacked plates upon their hands will immediately serves the dishes directly to the table. The table will quickly be set with dozens of small dishes filled with richly flavored foods such as beef rendang, curried fish, stewed greens, chili eggplant, curried beef liver, tripe, intestines, or foot tendons, fried beef lung, fried chicken, and of course, sambal, the spicy sauces ubiquitous at Indonesian tables. A dozen of dishes is a normal number, it could reach 14 dishes or more. Nasi Padang is an at-your-table, by-the-plate buffet. Customers take — and pay for — only what they have consumed from this array.

Restoran Sederhana Masakan Padang

Founded in 1972, this chain has branches all around Indonesia, and over 50 branches in Greater Jakarta alone. I have been to a couple, and they offered pretty consistent quality. This has been my first visit since 2011, I was not sure if the price was still affordable or the food has kept the quality.

First impression, the stack at the window display was not as tall as it used to be. I guess there was quite a bit of wastage if you really build a high display. This particular branch was quite well renovated and spacious, and brightly lit with LED lights.

There are many styles of cooking in Padang.

  • Gulai – rich, spicy and succulent curry sauce
  • Balado – red, hot chilli pepper stir fry with shallots, garlic and other spices
  • Rendang – dryer than curry, with more spices, and was a technique to keep meat longer, never served crispy though because of the long braising process used to reduce the liquid 😉
  • Goreng – Deep fried
  • Bakar – Grilled
  • Sambal Goreng – Stir fried with sambal, not balado though
  • Assam Pedas – Sour and spicy
  • And many more

Then you combine with the following ingredients.

  • Ayam – Chicken
  • Itik – Duck
  • Kambing – Mutton
  • Daging Sapi – Beef (literally translated as “meat from cow”)
  • Ikan – Fish
  • Udang – Prawn
  • Cumi – Squid
  • Kepala – Coconut
  • Otak – Cow’s brain (not the otak-otak you find in Malay cuisine)
  • Ati – Cow’s liver
  • Gajebo – Cow’s fat
  • Tunjang – Cow’s tendons
  • Dendeng – Thin-sliced beef
  • Kentang – Potato
  • Singkong – Cassava leaves
  • Nangka – Baby Jackfruit
  • Telor – Egg

One thing that is really unique is Ayam Pop – Minang style chicken, boiled/steamed and later fried, but not to golden brown like Ayam Goreng.

Stack it up

So on my plate you can see a liberal amount of Ayam Gulai (Curry Chicken), Sayur Singkong (Boiled Cassava leaves), Gulai Otak (Curry Cow’s brain), Sambal Kentang Telor Puyuh (Potato and quail egg in chilli), Gulai Tunjang (Curry Tendons), and Rendang Daging Sapi. Everything was so flavourful and yet one can taste the differences between the different meats and condiments.

And at the end of it all, wash everything down with Teh Botol (Tea in a bottle). This ultra-sweet jasmine tea concoction from Sosro has been my childhood favourite, not good for diets, but wonderful with the spices and rich food present.

At the end of it all, a waitress came and examined the plates, and surprisingly she could identify what we ate by just observing the remnants on the plate. Amazing. Dinner for 5 persons only cost us $45, and that included all the freshly squeezed juices that we ordered.

There are many chains and restaurants that serve Nasi Padang. I like Sederhana because they are everywhere and good quality. Recommended if you are in town.

Restoran Sederhana Masakan Padang
Jl. Prof Dr. Satrio C4 Kav.8. Kuningan, Jakarata Selatan
(This one is just behind JW Marriot Jakarta, and opp. The Westin Kuningan)


Date Visited : May 2018

5 comments on “Nasi Padang the proper way

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  4. Dita Leny Rafiyah

    if you have opportunity to visit Jakarta again , I highly recommend you to visit Pagi Sore Restaurant especially their Dr. Sahardjo Branch. try their Rendang and Krupuk Jangek (cow skin cracker)

    • Yes, I had tried Pagi Sore but did not have a chance to blogpost it because it was a business dinner – will try them again

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