Surabaya, on the Northeastern shore of Java, abounds with fresh seafood and fish all year round. It is also home to some of the most famous East Javanese dishes, such as iga penyet, beef spare ribs with sambal terasi, and soto ayam, spicy yellow chicken soup, both of which capture the flavor of this tropical island. We’ve updated our Surabaya restaurant guide to bring you 10 more must-visit eateries in Indonesia’s second-most populous city.
If you’re looking for stand-out iga penyet in Surabaya, then BU Kris is the place, according to its loyal patrons. This traditional dish consists of beef ribs and sambal, a dip made of crushed chili peppers, which Indonesians slather on almost any food, to delicious effect. Sambal is given greater complexity through the addition of ingredients like fish sauce, garlic ginger, green onions, lime juice and rice vinegar. Nowhere does the combination of sambal and iga penyet better than Bu Kris, and although there’s nothing fancy about the interior, there’s almost always a queue for a seat; the food makes the wait worthwhile.
For someone who fancies a fine dining experience from start to finish, Citrus Lee is the place to go. The chef, a former student at Le Cordon Blue in Paris, creates French gourmet dishes with Chinese and Asian flavors, such as pan-fried scallops with miso mustard sauce. Compared to other eateries of a similar quality, Citrus Lee is characterized by a laid-back atmosphere and friendly service from both the staff and the chef. Price wise the restaurant is obviously more expensive than local venues, but the set menu is accessible.
A new addition to Surabaya’s dining scene, Domicile Kitchen & Lounge falls at the upper end of the spectrum, bringing to the city trendiness and a wide selection of both Western and Eastern delicacies. The owners have clearly put a lot of thought into creating a stylish and relaxed atmosphere through the modern décor, large industrial windows and a stunning bar counter. There’s a wide selection of delicious Western fare to choose from, like the classic Spanishchurroswith warm chocolate, fettuccine with black squid ink and cream, as well as Eastern dishes to cater for local tastes.
Top quality Indonesian dishes and striking surroundings await diners at the Dream of Kahyangan Art Resto. The architecture of the restaurant pays homage to the fusion of the Javanese and Chinese cultures that so deeply informs the landscape of contemporary Indonesia. Diners can choose to dine either inside, surrounded by the restaurant’s collection of antique objects, or outdoors on the scenic patio. The menu specializes in traditional Indonesian fare such as nasi goreng, milk fish, grilled beef ribs with sweet chili sauce, and crispy kangkung, a popular side dish consisting of fried spinach.
The House of Sampoerna is a museum illustrating the history of the cigarette production facility that has operated there since 1932. Over the years the café has earned, in its own right, a reputation as one of the best places to eat in Surabaya. Diners can enjoy a large selection of Asian and Western dishes within a notable art deco building that combines antique painted windows and classic teak panelling with tasteful modern design. This unity of culinary excellence and historic beauty make the House of Sampoerna a must-visit destination within the city.
Taking full advantage of Surabaya’s proximity to some of Asia’s finest and fullest fishing waters, Layar Seafood produces a dazzling array of fish and seafood dishes, from crabs and lobsters to the more surprising frogs and other marine reptiles. Feel free to select your future dinner while it’s innocently swimming round the tank in the entryway, tell the chaf how you’d like the morsel to be cooked, then settle in for a delicious evening. The crowd is lively and local, and the tender frog’s legs will have you coming back for more.
Sarkies Seafood Restaurant is definitely a place for a special occasion. Sited in the colonial five star Majapahit Hotel, constructed in 1910 by the Sarkies brothers, the landmark building blends history and luxury to great effect. This shines through in the fine dining experience, which has seen Sarkies praised for the high quality of its cuisine and for its award-winning interior design, which recalls the elegance of pre-war Shanghai. Signature dishes here include the beef Vietnam, bi fontang prawns, and the dim sum.
Chicken broth, or soto ayam, is a staple in Indonesia, and particularly in Surabaya; but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Often considered the national dish, you can find it everywhere, from markets to the fanciest hotels, with venues vying for the crown of serving the best dish. But that title is often said to go to Soto Ambengan. Starting out as a tiny stall on Ambengan Road and growing to become something of a behemoth, and although this beloved outlet now serves other dishes, it’s the soto ayam that keeps people coming back time and again.
Tempo Doeloe hasn’t changed much since it opened: wooden furniture, tiled floors, and bamboo ceiling, all remain. You won’t find faddy trends here, and that fact just improve the food. Try the fried gurame, the deep-fried carp the sambal, and the tahu tek-tek and you won’t be disappointed in these simple pleasures. Only ten minutes from Surabaya airport, Tempo Doeloe is a classic spot to have your last meal in town.
All around Indonesia, fried duck (bebek goreng) is one of the most popular dishes, so much so that there is an ongoing hunt and debate to find the best place that serves this national favorite. Locals posit many warungs (traditional Indonesian restaurants commonly run by a family) as the best in town, and Warung Bebek Foreng H. Slamet is one of them. The small eatery has three qualities: it’s prices are affordable, it offers an authentic dining experience for travelers, and its ducks – both fried and boneless– are filling and tender.