Eat like a local – 4 Must Try Dishes in Semarang.


We’re off! Thanks to the folks behind Changi Airport Group and the Unravel Travel, Hazelle, WX and I were headed to unravel Semarang, the capital and largest city of the province of Central Java.


Not many people know of Semarang – I think 80% of the people I mentioned the city to had to repeat it a couple of times and were genuinely puzzled because they didn’t know where it was. If you’re curious what the city has to offer, read on.

Touchdown at Semarang airport – the flight from Singapore to Semarang is just about 2 hours. And the taxi ride from Semarang airport to Crowne Plaza hotel is just about 10 minutes. Would definitely recommend this hotel; the service is impeccable, rooms are comfortable and the location is very convenient. There’s a minimum fee of 20,000 IDR (about SGD$2, super cheap) for cab rides, and we never paid more for that!


  1. Ayam Penyet


Ayam Penyet literally means smashed chicken. Though these are readily available in Singapore and Malaysia, the dish actually originated from this part of Indonesia.

Super Penyet was a recommendation by one of the locals and it was indeed really good – the size of the chicken isn’t too big. It costs just about IDR IDR16,364 (SGD$1.70) for a combo that includes chicken, tahu (beancurd), tempe and an omelette or if you’re a big eater, a “komplit” set of chicken, meatballs, tahu, tempe and omelette for IDR27,727 ($2.91). A steal for so much food!!! We also had Sayur Asem (IDR 7,273) which is some sort of sour soup but it went really well with the rest of the dishes; as well as Kacang Panjang / grean beans (IDR 8,182). We spent less than SGD$10 for a hearty meal for all four of us.

Super Penyet

Restoran Indonesia, Restoran Asia, dan Restoran
Jalan Gajah Mada No. 87 (Kembangpaes), Semarang, Jawa Tengah 50133, Indonesia

  1. Nasi Liwet

We’d met some local dancers earlier and this is where they took us for supper. Really an eye-opener for us; I’ve never seen a vendor sell a variety of dishes displayed in metal trays and plates, and customers just hanging out sitting on rattan mats on the floor by the road. Besides really feeling like we were part of the community, the food was delicious.

Nasi liwet is a rice dish cooked in coconut milk, chicken broth and spices and is served with a variety of side dishes. Pictured here is chicken, broiled egg, cow skin? (sounds nasty but really tasty) and some stewed vegetables. One of my favourite dishes we had!

  1. Loenpia

Loenpia / lumpia is Semarang’s version of pohpiah, essentially a deep fried spring roll. Our local friend Flazhh brought us to this place called LOENPIA MBAK LIEN, where he mentioned served the most authentic leonpia. They serve two kinds – prawn, chicken and mixed; it costs about IDR 10,000 for one. They provide shallots and pickles to be eaten with them (I wasn’t that adventurous) but it tasted really good with the thick starchy sauce they provided. Imagine biting through perfectly crispy skin and into a savoury mixture of bamboo shoots, dried shrimp, chicken and prawns.

My mouth waters just writing about it!!

Loenpia Mbak Lien
Rejomulyo, East Semarang, Semarang City, Central Java, Indonesia

  1. Kue Lekker


Kue Lekker is a thin and crispy snack that’s similar to crepe. We had a sweet version (banana and chocolate) that costs about IDR 3,000 a piece; apparently there are savoury options as well. We had this from a vendor near the toilet (hey, it was still really tasty) where the cars park at Gedong Songo. Loved its simplicity. It’s a great snack for sweet tooths.

That about rounds up my post on the highlights of our meal in Semarang! To find out more on what else there is to do there (tonnes of exciting things: horse back riding, flying fox and dancing with the locals), check out Hazelle’s video!

Just a refresher – this was part of the Unravel Travel campaign which aims to enhance the understanding of travel and encourage travel to places off the beaten path. The key message is that you can get rich with travel! Check out all entries from the participants here.

Do us a favour and please VOTE for my very chio partner, Hazelle, who was a real trooper in Semarang. She really worked hard to produce an awesome vid (you’ll see when you watch it) and I think she totally deserves to win! (Also, lucky voters get to walk away with Changi Dollar vouchers :))

Once again, a big thank you to Changi Airport Group and the Unravel Travel group for enabling us to explore this hidden gem.


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