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No matter where you are in the vast archipelago nation of Indonesia, there’s one item that’s constant on menus – nasi campur (mixed rice). Whether you’re traveling on Sumatra, Java, Bali, or any of the other thousands of islands, you’re sure to find this Indonesian classic. Let’s learn a bit about this Indonesian staple food, along with some useful vocabulary to help you make your order.
Basically, you order up a plate of rice and choose from the wide variety of dishes that are on display. If you’re the kind of person who’s grossed out by food that’s sitting out, you might not be into nasi campur. In my experience traveling and living in Indonesia, I always found the food in these kind of places to be best at or around peak meal times. If you go there at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, you’re not going to have as many choices as you would at noon, and the food is likely to be a bit cold.
Anyways, you just browse the various dishes that are available and choose as many as you want. Once your plate is filled just the way you like it, the restaurant staff will survey your order and hand you a card with the price. Add some sambal (chili sauce) if you want and order up a drink such as es teh (ice tea) and you’ve got yourself a great meal. A typical plate of nasi campur with one or two meat/seafood dishes and veggies will only set you back 15-30,00 Rupiah, or about $1-2.50.
Depending on where you are in Indonesia, the items available for a nasi campur plate will differ. For example, you’ll find that pork is pretty common on Hindu Bali, but most certainly not in parts of Indonesia where the population is majority Muslim. In restaurants labeled as Masakan Padang (Padang cuisine) – a very common sight across the country – you’ll almost always see rendang sapi (beef rendang). No matter where you are, you’ll likely find a few chicken and fish dishes, quite a few choices for vegetables, and of course, an abundance of rice.
While you can always just get away with pointing and saying “ini” (this) or “itu” (that), it’s much better to learn a bit of Bahasa Warung (warung language). Get these words down and you should be able to confidently order your big plate of rice in Indonesian:
I’m sure your mouth is watering by now, so get out there and put your new Indonesian skills to use to load up a big, tasty plate of nasi campur! The options are endless, so you could easily eat it every day and never get sick of it. It’s also always very affordable, so you can enjoy a delicious meal without breaking the bank. Selamat makan! (Bon appétit!).