Monday, April 24, 2017

[Food Guide/ Kuliner Medan 2017] 48 Hours Food Hunting in Medan, Indonesia (棉兰, 印度尼西亚).

Sister city to Penang, Medan is merely 50 minutes by flight from Penang and it is known as the food Mecca of Northern Sumatera. The place has a good blend of local Indonesian delights and Chinese -influenced (particularly with Hokkien roots) dishes; but the international food scene is also equally exciting either. Having introduced a few food places in Medan in my previous entry, this blog post shall cover a few more food places for travelers to Medan, especially if you intend to plan for a short getaway to Medan.

Moving around Medan: Medan has a fair share of Grab and Uber drivers, the rates are very competitive and usually 30-40% lower than normal Taxis. It is therefore, more wallet-friendly to move around the city by using Grab or Uber. A local sim card with internet would usually cost around Rp 60,000. 

1) Bihun Bebek Atak (德记鸭米粉)
Prices are nett
Address: Jalan Boulevard H-119, Kompleks Cemari Asri, Medan Estate, Percut Sei Tuan, Kota Medan.
Business Hours: 7:30 am to 9:30 pm. Opens Daily.

Bihun Bebek (Rp 35,000)

One of the most liked Chinese delights in Medan city is Bihun Bebek, a duck-based noodle dish- the Vermicelli noodles are first dressed with Duck grease and light soy sauce, topped with shallots, greens and braised duck meat; often served with a bowl of duck broth. Bihun Bebek Atek is one of the more famous ones in town... with two branches across the city. The duck-flavor was bold with the duck grease but we thought it was a little overly-greasy to our liking. The duck broth with Chinese Herbs was delicious though, but the real bomb was the sweat-inducing chili dip. It is a comforting yet familiar combination that would easily please the Malaysian in you. The proprietor speaks decent Mandarin and Cantonese so there is no communication barrier when dining at Bihun Bebek Atek.

2) Zisel Gelateria 
Prices are nett
Address: Jalan Boulevard No. A24, Kompleks Cemara Asri, Medan Estate, Percut Sei Tuan, Kota Medan.
Business Hours: 9 am to 10 pm. Opens Daily.

Avocado Coffee Float (Rp 30,000)

Apple Pizza (Rp 50,000)

The trip to Zisel Gelateria from Medan city center is approximately 20 minutes (with smooth traffic) but it is definitely worth it. The cafe has an innovative menu with traces of Indonesian elements. Notable items like Nasi Goreng Ayam (Rp 28,000) or Mie Goreng are available but what you should not miss are their Avocado Coffee Float and Apple Pizza. Like most Avocado Coffee Float found in Medan, Zisel's comes with a generous serving of Chocolate Ice Cream and drizzles of Chocolate sauce (with some Milo powder in between for the flavor and a miracle yet addictive sandy texture) over the creamy, rich and luscious Avocado juice. Zisel did not skimp on the ingredients and the combination was beyond amazing, the sweetness was perfectly balanced... easily hands down one of the best I've ever had in Medan. 

The Apple Pizza was one of the most innovative creations ever, thin crust pizza spread with Cream Cheese and topped with slivers of Green Apple with a touch of Cinnamon; the sweet and savory combination was mind-blowing, it was neither a dessert nor a hefty main. Just when you thought the dimension is rather flat, the brilliantly paired Cinnamon is there to cut through the creaminess and introduced an earthy-woody flavor to the Pizza. For adventurous eaters, this is definitely one of the must visit cafes in Medan.

3) Mie Tiong Sim (面中心)
Prices are nett
Address: Jalan Selat Panjang No. 7, Pasar Baru, Medan Kota.
Business Hours: 2:30 pm to 11:30 pm. Opens Daily.

Mie Pangsit (Rp 38,000)

Sate Padang with Lontong (Rp 40,000/ 10 sticks)

Ask any local Chinese on the best place to find Chinese food and 'Jalan Selat Panjang or Semarang' would be a common answer. There are plenty of hawker stalls and coffee shops along the street, one of the notable ones is Mie Tiong Sim, a place known to serve Mie Pangsit... a local delicacy that shares similar appearance as 'Kampua' found in Sibu, Sarawak. The dish consists of springy noodles dressed with light soy sauce and fried Shallot oil, topped with Chicken meat and grilled Beef strips, along with a bowl of Dumpling soup. The local way of enjoying such delicacy is to pour the Dumpling soup onto the noodles. The taste is pretty straight-forward but the deciding factor on whether the Mie Pangsit is good would be the texture of the noodles as well as the generosity of the meat.  

While Satay is a common dish in Malaysia, the dish has a different appearance in Indonesia. Sate Padang is a variant to Satay with grilled skewers served with a thick, gooey gravy in shades of orange. Sate Padang is often served with Lontong, a type of Rice cake. If you intend to savor this Indonesian delicacy, try your luck at Jalan Selat Panjang and you should be able to find at least a couple stalls. Just in case you are wondering... the gravy we had was mildly spiced and reasonably seasoned but we thought the tacky texture was somewhat unpleasant. It is definitely an acquired taste.

4) Es Krim Ria
Prices are nett
Address: Jalan Surabaya No. 28/22-C, Medan.
Business Hours: 10 am to 8:30 pm. Opens Daily.

Avocado Float (Rp 20,000)

Hard-core Avocado fans (like yours truly) can make their way to Es Krim Ria, located at the central business district (mostly run by Chinese proprietors) of Medan. Es Krim Ria had its humble beginning back in 1936, founded by the late owner and is now manned by the second generation. Today, many regular patrons are still returning to the place, particularly during tea time for a taste of the genuine and authentic home-made Ice Cream. The Avocado Float is a popular choice, with 2 scoops of their home-made Ice Cream (Chocolate and Corn flavors on our visit) sitting on a lake of blended Avocado juice. The concoction was creamy, rich with a bold vegetal flavor but complemented with the slight tinge of sweetness from the Ice Cream. To our surprise, the Avocado, Corn and Chocolate flavors were able to amalgamate perfectly; making it the perfect solution to combat the sultry hot tropical weather. 

5) Asia Mega Mas Food Court
Prices are nett
Address: Jalan Asia No. 598, Sukaramai II, Medan.
Business Hours: 5 pm to late. Opens Daily.

Bihun Curry Ayam (Rp 25,000)

Liang Tofu (Rp 25,000)

Cha Sio & Babi Panggang (Rp 25,000)

Another favorite gathering point for the local Chinese community in Medan is the Asia Mega Mas area, approximately 20 minutes drive away from Medan city centre; the Asia Mega Mas is a long stretch of street with hawker food and display stalls (our Pasar Malam is probably the closest thing). There are quite a handful of local Medan Chinese eats so if you are in short of time but wish to savor most Medan-Chinese delicacies, this is the place to go. We found the Bihun Curry Ayam here, a close relative to our Curry Mee but unfortunately, the curry-flavor was a tad too diluted to my liking (or merely my untrained palate is accustomed to the local Curry Mee here in Penang). It was like mild version of Curry Chicken served with Vermicelli Noodles; the Chilies were a disappointment either, it was the pickled Chilies that barely registered any heat... Also, we thought the prices are slightly higher here than those found in the city center.

6) 4 Fingers Korean Crispy Chicken [Sun Plaza]
Prices are subject to 10% Service Charge
Address: Sun Plaza Medan, Jalan Kh. Zainul Arifin Blok R.8 No. 7, Madras Hulu, Medan.
Business Hours: 10 am to 10 pm. Opens Daily.

6 Pieces Korean Fried Chicken Wings (Rp 38,182)

To satisfy the urbanist in you, make a visit to Sun Plaza, one of the largest malls in Medan city. There are quite a number of international brands and food chains there but if you need to grab some quick bite or merely to enjoy with your Bintang Beer, check out 4 Fingers Korean Crispy Chicken. Not that we could not find here in Malaysia but the prices are more wallet-friendly than those outlets in central Malaysia (4 Fingers is not available in Penang yet). The standard is pretty high here; not being a fan of Fried Chicken, I had to agree that they have nailed it. Not only the flavors were amazing, the texture was equally impressive either. For more information on Sun Plaza, proceed to read my previous entry here.

7) Marutama Japanese Ramen & Nabe [Centre Point Mall]
Prices are subject to 18% Service Charge & Tax
Address: Centre Point Mall, Lantai 3 Unit 08, Jalan Jawa, Medan.
Business Hours: 10 am to 10 pm. Opens Daily.

Tamago Karashi Chicken Ramen (Rp 66,000)

If navigating around Medan city is a problem for you then mall-hopping might be another way of enjoying your stay. Yet another huge mall in Medan city center- Center Point Mall is strategically located in the heart of Medan and houses many restaurants/ cafes that offer wide range of international cuisine. We were pleasingly surprised to find out that Center Point Mall has Marutama, a renowned brand for serving Japanese Ramen. But they have since introduced some Indonesian elements to their signature dishes. While the Chicken broth remained tasty, the splash of chili dip was the bomb. It introduced an indelible-strong spicy punch to the dish but it certainly did not come cheap. One decent portion with a glass of Japanese Green Tea costs Rp 100,000 (approximately Rm 35).

8) Zulaikha Bika Ambon
Prices are nett
Address: Jalan Mojopahit No 96, Petisah Tengah, Medan.
Business Hours: 7:15 am to 9 pm. Opens Daily.

Bika Ambon Original (Rp 33,000/ small OR Rp 60,000/ large) 

One of the favorite brands for travelers (to Medan) to buy food gifts is Zulaikha Bika Ambon; it's a norm to see everyone carrying a box or two of Bika Ambon, Bolu Meranti (Swiss Roll) or Kuih Lapis (Layer Cake) walking around the airport. For the freshest produce, we made our way to Zulaikha Bika Ambon at Jalan Mojopahit, a small alley full of shops selling the above mentioned food products. To our surprise, the well-established cake shop is constantly churning out freshly baked goodies and the products are often snatched within minutes! They are known for Bika Ambon, a soft, fluffy but chewy cake that resembles the Chinese "Huat Kuih" but with greasier nature. It carries a peculiar spice-flavor and often loved by Medanese. The one baked by Zulaikha was alright, not too sweet but according to the locals, some brands can be disconcertingly sweet. A small portion of Bika Ambon is approximately Rm 11 and can only lasts for 3 days (7 days if stored in fridge).

9) Le Chic Parfait [Lippo Plaza]
Service Charge: No
Address: Lantai 1, Lippo Plaza, Jalan Imam Bonjol, Medan.
Business Hours: 10 am to 10 pm. Opens Daily.

Avocado Coffee Float (Rp 40,000)

A short 10 minute-walk or 2 minute-drive from Sun Plaza will land you at Lippo Plaza, a building dedicated for office suites or business centers. Lippo Plaza houses a seemingly upscale supermarket either so if the health conscious in you are looking for fresh produce, try your luck there. Nevertheless, the place has quite a fair share of eateries. There's a cafe- 'The Big Eyed' seems interesting but we did not have time to explore. Alternatively, Le Chic Parfait might be a good place to stretch your shopping legs. As much as I was advised to try something else but my heart goes to the Avocado Coffee Float. The texture and consistency were amazing but they might be a little overly-generous with the Chocolate syrup and the sweetness hit past my sugar tolerance level. Avocado lovers might be glad to know that the cafe serves Avocado Chocolate Cake too (with Avocado Mousse).

Have Fun and Happy Food Hunting in Medan!