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.
BU Kris, 1 Jalan Abdul Wahab Siamin, Surabaya, Indonesia, +62 31 5611010
House of Sampoerna
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.
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.
Tempo Doeloe, Jl. Raya Juanda Waru, Surabaya, Indonesia, + 62 31-868 8000
Warung Bebek Goreng H.Slamet
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.
Jalan Taman Darmo Permai Timur 1 3 | Belakang Gereja Gloria HR Muhammed, Surabaya, Indonesia, + 62 31 7724199
By Silvia Buonpadre
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