If you’re planning a trip to Indonesia, Yogyakarta, the cultural heart of the island of Java is probably going to get a look in. Yogyakarta (pronounced Jogjakarta and called Jogja for short) is a hub for traditional art and language and it’s the usual base from which travellers visit UNESCO World Heritage listed Borobodur and Prambanan temples. If you love to eat, you’ll want to set aside a bit of time to explore this city’s food culture- it’s spectacular. Traditional, unique and utterly delicious, here are 4 of Yogyakarta’s most famous dishes to hunt down!
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But first, watch our Yogyakarta food videos…
1. Charcoal coffee at Kopi Joss Lik Man
When in Java, you drink coffee. The local brew is served strong and black and if you want to take it one step further and enjoy it like a Yogyakartan, you’ll ask for a lump of searing hot charcoal to be added to your glass. It’s said adding charcoal to the coffee draws out the acidity- we don’t think it changed the taste dramatically (you fish out the charcoal after about a minute) but it’s worth ordering to see the frothy splutter as the charcoal hits the coffee.
Sample this local speciality at Kopi Joss Lik Man an angkringan- a typical Javanese street food stall, which has been around since the 1940s. Make like the locals and grab a snack, your kopi joss and while away an hour or two on the tikar (woven mats) strewn around the pavement.
Kopi Joss Lik Man, Jalan Wongsodirjan, Gedong Tengen, Sosromenduran, Yogyakarta. Open daily 2:00pm until 3:00am Monday to Saturday, 2:00pm to midnight on Sunday.
2. Es Dawet at Mbah Hari’s stall in Pasar Beringharjo
Tucked away in a corner of Beringharjo market, seated on a low plastic stool is 75-year-old Mbah Hari. In front of her sit two clay pots- one filled with palm sugar syrup and jackfruit, the other with coconut milk. Next to them is a large tub filled to the brim with brightly coloured rice and tapioca flour jellies. Combine these ingredients and you have es dawet- the perfect way to cool off after exploring the pokey laneways of the market.
Take a seat and Mbah Hari will fill a bowl with a ladle from each vessel- refreshing, creamy and sweet. The es dawet is brilliant but the highlight has got to be Mbah Hari’s radiant smile as she passes you a bowl, gesturing for you to tuck in.
Mbah Hari (north side of the market), Pasar Beringharjo (off Malioboro street) Jalan Margo Mulyo No.16, Ngupasan, Gondomanan, Yogyakarta 10:00am to 3:00pm.
3.Gudeg at Gudeg Mbah Lindu
Jogja’s most famous dish is undoubtedly gudeg- young, unripe jackfruit cooked with palm sugar, coconut milk, teak leaf and spices. Eat this local speciality at the stall of Mbah Lindu who has been serving this dish since 1940. Her daughter now runs the stall but Mbah Lindu still rises each day at 3:00am to cook the gudeg despite being a spritely ninety-eight years old.
Gudeg is served with rice, krecek- beef skin- cooked in chilli, tempeh and often a palm sugar braised egg. One mouthful of the moist, sweet gudeg together with white rice and slightly gelatinous, spicy krecek will be all it takes for you to fall seriously in love with this traditional Javanese dish. Get here early though, you’ll be lucky if there’s any gudeg left by 9:00am.
Gudeg Mbah Lindu, Jl. Sosrowijayan, Sosromenduran, Gedong Tengen, Yogyakarta. Open daily 5:00am until 10:30am.
4. Satay Klathak and tengkleng at Satay Klathak Pak Pong
If you don’t mind travelling for food, hop into a GrabCar (Indonesia’s Uber equivalent) and drive 30 minutes out of the centre of Jogja for one of the city’s specialties: satay klathak- goat satay. All of the butchering and cooking takes place right on the roadside with the intoxicating smells of grilled meat filling the air.
Satay Klathak Pak Pong use metal bicycle spokes as skewers, to ensure even cooking of the meat. Unlike the satay commonly found in this part of the world, satay klathak is seasoned only with salt and pepper and is served sans peanut sambal. The meat is incredible- tender and full of flavour. After stripping the goats of their meat for the satay, the bones and offal are used to create tengkleng- goat bone stew. If you have a predilection for gnawing on ribs and sucking marrow out of bones you have to order this dish. We’d return to Jogja for that bowl of goat bones alone.
Satay Klathak Pak Pong, Jalan Imogiri Timur Km. 10, Wonokromo, Pleret, Jejeran II, Wonokromo, Pleret, Bantul, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 55791. Open daily 9:00am to 11:30pm.
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We hope this Yogyakarta food guide has helped you eat and explore like a traveller, not a tourist!
Spending more time in Asia? Check out our ‘ Must Eat Local Dishes in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and ‘Top 10 Things to Eat in Tokyo (when you’re on a budget!)