So, here’s the thing… Being a foodie is not exactly my cup of tea. Or maybe it is.
Like, I love to eat, and I’m not the kind of person who would answer ‘whatever’ to the question on where we’ll go for our next meals because chances are, I’ll be craving for something already.
But then again, in the social media era where everyone takes a pic of their food every time, I honestly can’t relate. I love eating too much that I often forget to take a pic of my food. And I’m not even sorry.
However, when I decided to go to Pontianak, my starting point of my Borneo trip, I decided to learn how to stop myself from eating just to introduce you to the local delicacies in West Kalimantan. This is the province in Indonesia that is quite well-known for its culinary.
In case you wonder why two cities that I’ve visited in West Kalimantan are worth to visit, I’ll give you the reason. Pontianak and Singkawang are two places where the recent Indonesian movie, Aruna dan Lidahnya, took place. And if that’s not enough reason to visit them, the movie focuses on some of the best Indonesian food.
Pontianak and Singkawang, West Kalimantan: Why These Cities Are Must-Visit Places for Foodies
When talking about West Kalimantan, we couldn’t put aside the fun fact that the capital city, Pontianak, is crossed by the Equator line.
If you’re the kind of person who loves the idea of being in 2 places at the same time (like me!), then you may be interested in visiting Pontianak. There’s the Equator monument in Pontianak with the line that divides the northern hemisphere and the south. The monument itself is nothing fancy, at least not for me.
In fact, except for the local delicacies that are to die for, Pontianak came across boring for me personally.
Singkawang is located around 150 km from Pontianak, and it is known as the city of thousand temples. The city is best known for Tatung festival, the international festival held annually during Cap Go Meh.
Cap Go Meh marks the last day of Chinese New Year, exactly on the fifteenth day. Some countries might call it differently, like Lantern or Mid-Autumn Festival. In Vietnam, they call it Tet Holiday.
Anyway, Tatung festival is a mixed Chinese and Dayak ritual to celebrate Chinese New Year. And for Singkawang, it is the peak season where so many tourists, both domestic and international, come there to see the festival in this small town.
With over 70% population of Singkawang come from Chinese ethnics, it’s not really surprising that they have a strong Chinese influence which includes their culinary.
Must-Try Culinary in West Kalimantan
Just a heads up that I’m not exactly good at taking food pictures, so apologies for not-so-good quality pictures that I provide here. I swear I’m trying my best, it’s just as a human, I can’t seem to be good at everything. #alibi 😛
So, what are these recommended local delicacies that I’ve tried and I would recommend by heart in West Kalimantan?!
1. Chai Kue Ahin (Pontianak) and Choi Pan at Tjhia Family House (Singkawang)
Chai kue and choi pan are actually the same thing. The only difference is the dialect used for the term, while chai kue is the term taken from Tio Ciu dialect, choi pan comes from the same term in Hakka dialect.
It’s some kind of dumplings filled with vegetables, which you can pick whether you want to enjoy the fried or the steamed ones. At Chai kue Ahin in Pontianak, I tried both fried and steamed ones, only to realize that I prefer the latter. I also tried all the filling choices, from yam, chives, taro, and peanut.
Well, it was my first time trying this delicacy so I really had no regret to eat everything at once. 😛 #YOLO
From all the things I ate there, I’ve learned that the yam and chives-filled, steamed chai kue are those that I like the most. So, when I got to Singkawang, yam and chives-filled, steamed choi pan are those that I went for.
The combination of the dumplings and the dipping sauce is so yum! The price range is around IDR 3,000 to IDR 5,000 ($0.2 to $0.35 USD) per piece.
2. Mie Tiaw Apollo (Pontianak)
Basically, it’s beef noodle. And since I come from Java and we could find so many similar kind of noodle there, I underestimated the taste of this Mie Tiaw Apollo.
Guess what? I was so glad that I underestimated them, as I tried it the first time and my first time was so full of surprise! 😀
Like, the flavorful spices in the noodle were blended so well, and their dipping sauce is unbelievably delicious. In fact, I think it’s there to top everything off. The dipping sauce, in particular, is what makes this mie tiaw different than those that I regularly find anywhere in Java.
Unlike in my hometown where almost all sauces are super hot and spicy, the dipping sauce for this mie tiaw has some sourish flavor that makes it taste super unique and delicious at the same time. The price ranges from IDR 20,000 to IDR 30,000 (around $1.4 to $2 USD) for a plate of noodle.
Just take some noodle and dip in the sauce, buon appetite everyone! 😛
3. Roti Srikaya and Pisang Goreng Sarihati (Pontianak)
Buns and banana fritters, perfect for breakfast!
So, what’s so special about the banana fritters and buns that make it stand out compared to the regular fritters and buns? The sauce!
They serve the buns and fritters with some custard sauce that taste surprisingly well-blended together. A perfect stuff to start the day indeed!
I’m not usually a sweet tooth myself, but the sauce on fritters and buns tastes real good. It’s not too sweet, just perfect for a nice breakfast with only around IDR 5,000 to IDR 7,500 (around $0.4 to $0.5 USD) per piece.
4. Asiang Coffee (Pontianak)
Here’s the thing about the coffee culture in West Kalimantan that I’ve noticed ever since I landed in Pontianak: everybody simply does it. And when I mentioned the coffee culture, it’s not some hipster coffee shop that you can easily find in Jakarta… It is the legit coffee shop that may look almost next to nothing but actually everything.
Seriously, even the smallest coffee shop in West Kalimantan usually provide free wifi. But it doesn’t make everyone get busier with their gadgets, because you can easily find people having a good time talking while smoking whatever.
Among many coffee shops, the most prominent one is Asiang coffee. Located in Jalan Merapi in Pontianak, needless to say, this coffee is legendary.
Asiang, the owner of the coffee shop who acts as a barista in the shop, prepares the coffee for all customers on his own. What makes it unique is that he does it shirtless. Yup, his torso is exposed when he works because he’s practically half-naked. He has operated his business like this since the 1950s.
For a cup of hot coffee with me, it would only cost you IDR 10,000 (around $0..8 USD) per cup. The coffee itself is rather strong, but guess what? It goes really well with the banana fritters and buns from Sarihati!
The place was full at Sarihati that Alvi, my couchsurfing friend, and I had to take away the fritters and buns to enjoy it at Asiang… And it was such a great decision!
5. Rujak Thai Pui Ji (Singkawang)
I won’t blame you if you’re not familiar with the term rujak or rojak, but if you come from Southeast Asia region, particularly in Nusantara area (Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei), you must know what it is by heart.
Basically, it’s fruit and vegetable salad served with palm sugar dressing. And that’s exactly what rujak Thai Pui Ji is all about. This rujak place is really prominent that it’s hard to miss if you ever plan to visit Singkawang.
Located exactly behind Hongkong Inn hotel, where I stayed in Singkawang, I was a bit surprised that the place was so small. Typical street food, but they’re actually really popular!
Started in such a humble neighborhood, they stay there until now. Rumor has it that the owner actually owns Ferrari from the business. Visiting the hole in the wall, you probably won’t believe it. 😛
Their signature rujak is the mango one, and I had it when I went there. Only IDR 20,000 for a portion, the fruit is fresh to enjoy in Singkawang during hot weather. Except for the sauce that wasn’t spicy enough for me. But it tasted well enough for me to recommend it on the list!
6. Es Krim Angi (Pontianak)
If there’s anything that I’ve learned about traveling to some big cities in Indonesia, I figure that almost all the cities that I’ve been, they have some prominent ice cream shop that has been around for so many years. If anything, they’re legendary in their cities.
To name a few, there’s Es Krim Ragusa in Jakarta and Es Krim Rasa in Bandung. In Malang, there’s also Toko Oey that is well-known for their banana split. Most of them, they have been around for decades. Some of them have been there ever since the Dutch colonial era!
Well, in Pontianak, there’s Es Krim Angi that has been on the market since 1950s.
Located across a Catholic school called Petrus, it is also known as Es Krim Petrus. Their signature ice cream is the one served on coconut shell. You could opt for so many ice cream flavors, from classic vanilla to bubble gum.
As for me, I rarely order any ice cream other than chocolate and it was great! 🙂
The price ranges from IDR 15,000 to IDR 35,000 (around $1 to $2.4 USD), depends on how you would like it served. Apart from their signature coconut shell, you could also enjoy it in a regular cup.
Ready to Get Your Foodie Tongue in West Kalimantan?
Seriously though, if you claim yourself as a foodie, I really encourage you to stop by West Kalimantan, in this case Pontianak and Singkawang to try their local delicacies. Not only is it delicious, but I could guarantee you that the delicacy is different with the one that you find in other places in Indonesia.
Step aside, Java and Bali… Cause West Kalimantan is definitely a new celebrity for the foodies. Dare to try?! 😉
12 thoughts on “6 Must-Try Local Delicacies in West Kalimantan”
Loved reading this and of course looking at all the delicious food. Thanks for sharing the history of the words and their meanings really puts food culture in perspective.
The food (nice photos by the way so thank you for pausing your haste to eat to take them) looks and sounds delicious. We can TOTALLY relate to your statement “in the social media era where everyone takes a pic of their food every time, I honestly can’t relate.” If the goal is simply to take an IG snap to entertain, most often we’d say put the damn camera down and eat. If the goal, however, is to write a story that describes a meal or a dish, then training yourself to properly take a good food photo (not a square IG snap) as you did is key. Nicely done.
haha. thank you so much, michael.. i can’t seem to find a good angle to take a decent pic of all the dishes that i’ve had. but knowing me and i’m not really into taking pics of my own meals, i think kudos to myself for the effort. 😛 thanks for taking some time to read!
Out of all these, Choi pan has got my lips wet! I really fancy some of these for lunch right now as I am stuck in the office. Would go to this place first in West Kalimantan just to try them!
Don’t even worry, your food pictures are just fine! I can totally see how delicious everything is, just wish I could taste it. This is a foodie lovers paradise!!!
I can totally relate with not taking pictures of my food before devouring it! My husband and I always say: “man…we should have taken a picture of that”. But seriously, the roti srikaya and pisang goreng sarihati look awesome! Bananas are so versatile and delicious.
I loved you choi pan picture. Really great perspective. You might end up being a food photographer yet. I also like the idea of standing on both sides of the equator. I’ll admit that I flushed the airplane toilet on the flight to Australia a few extra times just to see if I could hit that magic spot where it swirled in the other direction so equatorial games are nothing new to me (spoiler alert – it didn’t)
noooo, if anything, i don’t think i’d make it to be a food photographer because i love food so much that i always end up eating it before taking a pic of it in the first place. 😛
and lol for your toilet flush game, attagirl indeed for the exceptional experience!
Yep, I would want to go to Pontianak to be in two places at one time for sure! I also love food and am one that takes photos of all the food! Asian food is my favorite, especially sushi and Thai but I don’t discriminate (unless it’s spicy because I don’t do spicy). The dumplings, buns and banana fritters and raja are most appealing to me on your list. They sound like heaven and I know I would love them!
I’m with you about the food pictures – I’ve usually eaten half my meal before I remember to take a picture, and on the rare occasions that I remember beforehand, the picture never turns out very good haha. Oh well. So long as it tastes good, right? 😛 All of these dishes sound so yummy!! Particularly the banana fritters and buns – YUM! ANd everything is so cheap!! I live int he US, and a cup of coffee here usually costs $4 minimum. $0.80 is amazing!!
All of these dishes look amazing, but those dumplings simply look irresistible! I would also love to try Asiang Coffee. I’ve loved Indonesian food the few times I’ve had it, but we unfortunately don’t have many Indonesian restaurants in the States, at least compared to other options like Thai and Vietnamese. Thanks for sharing!
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