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Thekiantra Morriston
Published: 05 Apr 2022

How to Dine Like a Native in Indonesia

Dining has switched from biological needs into social needs. How so? Have you ever noticed in every social gathering food is always involved?(at least in Indonesia they do.) Even for a date, Food is an important aspect that determines the successfulness of the romantic rendezvous. A table filled with array of dishes is the perfect tool to connect one heart to another.

The same thing could be said in Indonesia. The diverse sub-ethnic groups have one thing in common, Food to fill the belly and fulfill the soul. We as Indonesians have our own way to dine with our family in our own culture. however, we also have similarities in etiquette and habit. In this article I will explain these similarities and teach you how to dine like a local here.

Let me inform you about our mealtime.. Because it’s kinda tricky

Mealtime is typically a casual and solitary affair for Indonesians. Once home food is ready, they are usually left on the dining table all day at room temperature (yes it is a bit questionable but hey! it doesn’t affect us at all) so the family can nibble on the food anytime they like. We use this thing that looks like a cage called “Tudung Saji” to cover our food from flies or bugs that could contaminate our food.

We do have breakfast, but it’s not like what you think

when you hear the word “Breakfast” what is the first dish that comes to your mind? if you say Cereal or Pancake I’m sorry to inform you that it is not our custom. We like to start our day with a HEAVY meal. Even our food sellers understand this, that is why you will find people selling Nasi Kuning, Bubur Ayam, or even Lontong Sayur that is submerged in thick coconut milk soup in the morning. I don’t know about you guys but these heavy food are just going to make me sleepy later in the day.

Fork & knife? oh please...

What dining utensil do you mostly use everyday? good luck adapting in Indonesia if you cannot eat without knife in your right hand. Most of our plates often filled with rice, that’s why we use spoon to scoop them. Let me demonstrate a little bit about it. So you take spoon on your right hand, fork on your left hand. Then when you start eating, navigate your food with your fork to your spoon so it’s easier for you to scoop.

Cashier gives the client a payment terminal
The last but not the least, who pays for the meal?

I know, I know.. split bills is the most appropriate way. But hear me out, Our culture is very generous and community driven by nature. The one who invites the other for a dinner has to pay the bill (and the waiters are not used to customer asking for split bills). However, that is not an excuse for the invited to just sit still. As the “Guest” you have to do a small “Polite War”. How? pretend that you insist to pay for the bill, They will not let you pay but it would be a nice gesture to do.

So that's the easy way of how to eat like a native in Indonesia. After reading this article, what do you think about our dining culture? let us know on the comment section. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to get updates about Kokikan and promo!

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