Friday, 29 June 2018

Putri Minang Nasi Padang in Tanjung Pinang @ Jalan Bakar Batu

One of the must do things when visiting Indonesia is to eat at a Nasi Padang stall or shop. It is boiled white rice eaten with dozens of side dishes of fried meat, fish, seafood, rendang, vegetables, sauces, curries, and sambals. So far, we have eaten at 5 or 6 Nasi Padang shops in Tanjung Pinang, and the one I would recommend is Putri Minang.

In Indonesia, Nasi Padang shops typically display their dozens of colourful dishes on shelves in large wood and glass cabinets at the front of the shop facing the road. It never fails to stop me in my tracks to check out what are on offer.

Take away customers have their rice and selected dishes wrapped in banana leaf and newspaper. Single dine in customers have their rice and selected dishes heaped on a plate. Simply point to the dish you want - this is known as "pesan" style ordering in Indonesia.

For group dine in customers, the staff will serve the dishes in small plates laid out at your table. There is no menu 😱 This is the "hidang" style which is like a mini banquet - great for communal dining and bonding with friends and family. Customers only pay for what they ate i.e. if you eat the food in any of the plates, you will pay for that whole plate only. You need not pay, if you did not eat anything from the plate at all.

The plates of food look so colourful and delicious, it takes quite a lot of self discipline to not try all the dishes served. Hidang style is the only way to fully appreciate the Nasi Padang experience. So, marshal your eating troops before coming to a Nasi Padang restaurant.

After trying half a dozen different Nasi Padang shops in Tanjung Pinang, I found that flavours mostly leaned on the salty side, fried foods tended to be dry, rendang meats were often quite hard. The heavily salty dishes go well with plain white rice but the problem with me is I can't eat a lot of rice (as I have to watch my blood sugar level).

At Putri Minang, flavours were less salty, fried foods still had some moistness and tenderness inside, and the rendang meats were not as stiff as those at other shops.

Nasi Padang tastes best when eaten with (right hand) fingers to thoroughly blend and mix the rice, meat, vegetables, curries, sauces and sambal. But, eating with fork and spoon is totally acceptable. I ate with cutlery because I needed to keep my fingers dry for photo taking.

Putri Minang's beef rendang was not as stiff nor as salty as rendang in most shops in Tanjung Pinang. Rendang is made by stewing beef (or chicken) for hours in heavily spiced coconut milk till the creamy stock is reduced to a signature spicy sauce (known as kalio).

I like this tender, juicy beef cooked with roughly grated chili peppers. Don't worry - the fiery looking pulpy chili was just mildly spicy.

Curry beef.

Many people must have fried chicken (ayam goreng) with their Nasi Padang. Putri Minang's rendition was lightly battered, crisp outside while inside the thigh, there was some moistness and tenderness which I like as there was a bit of natural chicken sweetness in the meat. In Tanjung Pinang, kampung chicken is used in their chicken dishes.

I often resorted to gulai chicken as the alternative to too dry, too hard fried chicken at most Nasi Padang shops but I didn't have to do that at Putri Minang.

Anyway, gulai chicken meat is usually tender and juicy with mildly spicy curry. You can also taste the natural chicky sweetness of kampung chicken.

Fried chicken offal (heart and gizzard) with sambal chili. Hard and dry, it's all about the chewy bite and some flavour from the sambal chili and offal.

Looks like sea cucumber but is actually water buffalo skin cooked in curry (gulai kulit sapi). Didn't taste this at Putri Minang. When I tried it elsewhere, the quite thick skin didn't have much flavour itself but the texture was enjoyable, if you like food with a chewy firm rubbery spring.

Lightly sauteed prawns.

A small curry fish head.

Fried mackerel steak dressed with grated chili.

Grilled fish with sambal chili. Buddies said the bony fish was very fresh and the tender meat was juicy and sweet.

Fried omelette with vegetables and spices.

One of my favourite dishes at Nasi Padang shops is the humble tapioca leaf (daun ubi). I love its slightly fibrous texture, unique taste (not grassy) and ate plenty of it guilt free as it is nutritious and helps with the bowels. I eat these leaves with dollops of grated chili and gulai (curry sauce).

Daun Ubi is also cooked with curry which I love even more. When I eat Nasi Padang pesan style, I will pile this on my plate.

Another vegetable dish that is full of texture and flavours. Crunchy long beans with crispy fried anchovies (Ikan Bilis), fried crisps and sambal chili.

Djenkol or Stinky Beans (known as Petai in Malaysia and Singapore). An acquired taste - after eating, your breath and urine will have the same pungent stinky smell. But, once you are hooked, nothing can save you don't want to be saved.

Indonesians are the masters of sambal chili. It makes everything taste way better. Actually, I can enjoy a whole bowl of white rice just with this Sambal Ijo. Full of balanced flavours and just the right spiciness intensity for me.

👉 You will be doing yourself a disfavour, if you leave Indonesia without experiencing a Nasi Padang meal. If you are in Tanjung Pinang, a good place to taste Nasi Padang is at Putri Minang. It is popular with Tanjung Pinang folks, so you will get an authentic local dining experience. Most of the essential Nasi Padang dishes are here. Their Nasi Padang signatures of fried chicken and beef rendang are good. Prices are slightly on the high side - six of us, we paid about SGD10 (Rp105,163.48) per person.

Darn, I am hungry now.

Restaurant name: Rumah Makan Putri Minang
Address: 173, Jalan Bakar Batu, Tanjung Pinang, Riaus, Indonesia (across the street from abandoned Royal Bintang Hotel)
GPS: 0°55'37.2"N 104°26'46.1"E | 0.926986, 104.446126
Tel: 0771 317526
Hours: Lunch & Dinner

Date visited: 28 Jun 2018

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