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Nasi Padang

The array of the dishes of Nasi Padang window display in a Padang restaurant
The waiter stacking plates of dishes in his hand prior to hidang serve in a Padang restaurant

Nasi Padang is a Padang steamed rice served with various choices of pre-cooked dishes originated from Indonesia. It is known across Indonesia as Nasi Padang, after the city of Padang the capital of West Sumatra province. Nasi Padang (Padang-style rice) is a miniature banquet of meats, fish, vegetables, and spicy sambals eaten with plain white rice, it is Sumatra's most famous export and the Minangkabau people's great contribution to Indonesian cuisine.[1]

A Padang restaurant is usually easily distinguishable with their Rumah Gadang style facade and their typical window display. Nasi Padang window display in front of restaurant usually consists of stages and rows of carefully arranged stacked bowls and plates, constructed and filled with various dishes. A Padang restaurant, especially small-to-medium ones, will also usually bear names in Minang language.

Nasi Padang is a vital part of Indonesian workers' lunch break in urban areas; when Nasi Padang prices in the Greater Jakarta area were raised in 2016, Jakarta municipal civil servants demanded the uang lauk pauk (food allowance, as a component of civil servant's salary) to be raised as well.[2]

Nasi Padang served in Padang restaurants are easily found in various Indonesian cities in Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara, and Papua, to neighboring countries Malaysia and Singapore,[3] and Australia because of Minangkabau merantau (migrating) tradition contributed to the dispersion of Minang diaspora outside their traditional homeland in West Sumatra. Based on CNN Travel, Nasi Padang is listed as one of 40 food that Singaporeans cannot live without.[4]


Nasi Padang

There are two types of serving in a Padang restaurant, the pesan (ordering) and hidang (serve) method. Pesan is the most common way — usually done by a single or two customers — the customer examine the window display and choose the dish they wish to consume directly to the waiter in front near the window display, and the dish is promptly served. This is usually done in common small scale Padang restaurant.

In a larger Padang restaurant dine-in, the festive hidang (serve) style is usually done. This mini banquet is most suitable for dining in group. After the customers are seated, they do not have to order. The waiter with stacked plates upon their hands will immediately serves the dishes directly to the table. The table will quickly be set with dozens of small dishes filled with richly flavored foods such as beef rendang, curried fish, stewed greens, chili eggplant, curried beef liver, tripe, intestines, or foot tendons, fried beef lung, fried chicken, and of course, sambal, the spicy sauces ubiquitous at Indonesian tables. A dozen of dishes is a normal number, it could reach 14 dishes or more. Nasi Padang is an at-your-table, by-the-plate buffet.[1] Customers take — and pay for — only what they have consumed from this array.[5]

In Minang food establishments, it is common to eat with one's hands. They usually provide kobokan, a bowl of tap water with a slice of lime in it to give a fresh scent. This water is used to wash one's hands before and after eating. If a customer does not wish to eat with bare hands, it is acceptable to ask for a spoon and fork.


The hidang style serving in a Padang restaurant, the table in front of customer is filled with various rich-flavored and spicy Padang dishes

Steamed rice is usually served with gulai Cubadak (unripe jackfruit gulai) and boiled cassava leaves. Nasi Padang dishes are quite similar to Nasi Kapau from Bukittinggi. The differences mainly lie in the method of serving. The dishes offered in Nasi Padang are:

  • Gulai Cubadak, unripe jackfruit gulai
  • Sayur daun ubi kayu or sayur daun singkong, boiled cassava leaves
  • Rendang, chunks of beef stewed in spicy coconut milk and chili gravy, cooked well until dried. Other than beef, rendang ayam (chicken rendang) and rendang itik (duck rendang) can be found.
  • Daun ubi tumbuk, cassava leaves in coconut milk
  • Kalio, similar to rendang; while rendang is rather dry, kalio is watery and light-colored
  • Gulai Ayam, chicken gulai
  • Gulai Cancang, gulai of meats and cow internal organs
  • Gulai Tunjang, gulai of cow foot tendons
  • Gulai Babek, Gulai Babat or Gulai Paruik Kabau, gulai of cow tripes
  • Gulai Iso or Gulai Usus, gulai of cow intestines usually filled with eggs and tofu
  • Gulai Limpo, gulai of cow spleen
  • Gulai Ati, gulai of cow liver
  • Gulai Otak, gulai of cow brain
  • Gulai Sumsum, gulai of cow bone marrow
  • Gulai Gajeboh, cow fat gulai
  • Gulai Itiak, duck gulai
  • Gulai Talua, boiled eggs gulai
  • Gulai Kepala Ikan Kakap Merah, red snapper's head gulai
  • Gulai Jariang, jengkol stinky bean gulai
  • Dendeng Batokok, thin crispy beef
  • Dendeng Balado, thin crispy beef with chili
  • Paru goreng, fried cow lung
  • Ayam bakar, grilled spicy chicken
  • Ayam balado, chicken in chili
  • Ayam goreng, fried chicken with spicy granules
  • Ayam Lado Ijo, chicken in green chili
  • Ayam Pop, Minang style chicken, boiled/steamed and later fried. While fried chicken is golden brown, ayam pop is light-colored.
  • Ikan Bilih, fried small freshwater fish of the genus Mystacoleucus
  • Baluik goreng, crispy fried small freshwater eel
  • Udang Balado, shrimp in chili
  • Rajungan goreng, crispy fried crab
  • Terong Balado, eggplant in chili
  • Petai goreng, fried green stinky bean (Parkia speciosa)
  • Ikan Asam Padeh, fish with spicy-sour taste
  • Itiak Lado Mudo, duck in green chili
  • Peyek udang, shrimp rempeyek
  • Kerupuk Jangek, cow's skin krupuk
  • Sambal Balado, sambal with large sliced chilli pepper
  • Sambal Lado Tanak
  • Lele goreng, fried catfish

See also

In popular culture

  • In 2016, Norwegian singer Audun Kvitland Røstad created an ode for Nasi Padang to describe his love for this food, and subsequently the music video went viral in social media.[6][7]


  1. ^ a b "Padang's Feast Fit for a King". Eating Asia. 2006-07-10. Retrieved 2013-08-20.
  2. ^ "Gara-gara Nasi Padang, Belanja Negara Terpaksa Ditambah". Metro Batam (in Indonesian). 5 October 2016.
  3. ^ "Nasi Padang, a Delightful Indonesian Fare". VisitSingapore. Retrieved 2013-08-20.
  4. ^ Catherine Ling (April 14, 2010). "40 Singapore foods we can't live without". CNN travel.
  5. ^ "A Unique of Padang". Archived from the original on 2010-12-14. Retrieved 2010-09-22.
  6. ^ Asmara Wreksono (7 October 2016). "A Norwegian man's ode to Nasi Padang: Audun Kvitland". The Jakarta Post. Jakarta.
  7. ^ "Norwegian man sings touching song about his time in Indonesia and falling in love... with nasi padang". Coconuts Jakarta. 6 October 2016.