Sundanese people are renowned for their exceptional cuisine. Let me present you today one of their most famous snacks

A little story…

“Combro” is a Sundanese recipe, and the most famous snacks in Indonesia can be found in the city of Bandung, West Java.

The name “combro” means more or less… “smelly inside” (abbreviation of “oncom in jero” in Sundanese language). Do not be afraid to try them: they are absolutely fantastic.

Best places to eat “combro”

Bandung: Combro Capitol, a hawker stall you can find in Jalan Astanaanyar Jakarta: Combro Mas Halim, in East Jakarta, in Pondok Kopi Bogor: Combro Nirwana, in Empang, south of the city  
Ancient duck “tom kha bpet”

Ancient duck “tom kha bpet”

Som Chai, my Thai restaurant in Bali, tells cultural stories through recipes: coming from the late 19th Century to the table, here is a short story of the “Tom Kha Bpet”

It was a soup…

Tom Kha is originally a type of soup consisting of a spicy chicken-curry in coconut milk. 

The soup typically includes coconut milk, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, Thai chili peppers, coriander (or dill weed), straw mushrooms (or shiitake or other mushrooms), chicken, fish sauce, and lime juice. Fried chilies are sometimes added.

… but in the late 19th Century, it was not anymore !

In the late 19th century, “tom kha” was not a soup at all: it was a dish of chicken or duck simmered in a light coconut broth with a generous amount of galangal. The coconut broth adds sweetness to the meat, and the galangal helped to mellow the meat odor. It was then served with a basic roasted chili jam as a dipping relish seasoned along the salty-sour-sweet spectrum.

Let me take you on a trip to the Ancient Siam

At Som Chai, I introduced this modern version of “Tom Kha”, and invite you to discover its complex flavours, its rich scent and the guilty pleasure to dip the meat in the roasted chilli jam !

Babi Guling Bu Mangku

Babi Guling Bu Mangku

Tucked away off the street is Bu Mangku’s, a tiny little warung serving up Bali’s favourite kind of local worker’s breakfast – babi guling.

Babi Guling Bu Mangku

Foreign tourists favourite, “babi guling” is made from piglets whose stomach is filled with herbs and vegetables such as cassava leaves and then roasted while rotating until cooked, marked by changing the color of the skin to brown and crispy.

When I got here at 9:15am, she’d already almost sold out. All that was left were a few remnants of the suckling pig she is famous for. Luckily there was enough for us, so we did get to try a taste anyway.

While I was eating, Bu Mangku is bundling up 100 bungkus (triangular shaped paper takeaway parcels) for delivery that morning.

They are on their way to the airport for staff catering at the canteen there. I find out that she sells up to 300 bungkus – and makes up to 9000 small sates – per day. Shocked, I realize that this humble holy man’s wife is a real culinary entrepreneur, giving new meaning to the term ‘quiet achiever’.

The Balinese can create thriving little businesses like this for much less of an investment and effort than Westerners do. Even high-end restaurants can learn a thing or two from this kind of enterprising side to their main gig. There is definitely something to be said for doing takeaway!

Nyuh Kuning Rd, Singakerta, Ubud, Gianyar, Bali 80571 (view in Google Maps)


Another great option for lunch is Babi Guling Grenceng (just a few metres up the road from yesterday’s warung tip, Tipat Tahu Grenceng).

A relaxed affair, it’s shoes off at the front steps here, with ‘lesehan’ style seating on rattan floor mats.

The babi guling is good and offers quite a variety of accompaniments to the traditional slow-roasted pork. The paper-lined basket offers up lots of flavours, with young coconut braised in bumbu gede sitting alongside sausage and fried curly intestines (which I quietly pass on). 

Warung Tipat Tahu Grenceng

Warung Tipat Tahu Grenceng

Instead of heading off into the outer reaches of Asia, the last few weeks have been all about discovering some of the hidden secrets of my own island home.

A popular dish

Street-side eating here is all about one thing only – tahu tipat. Originally from East Java but hugely popular here in Bali, tahu tipat consists of freshly made tofu pieces that are pan fried so that they become slightly golden and warm, before being mixed with bean sprouts, lontong (soft rice cakes shaped in plaited banana leaf parcels) and spicy peanut sauce.

Warung Tipat Tahu Grenceng Jl. Imam Bonjol No.304, Pemecutan Klod, Kec. Denpasar Bar., Kota Denpasar, Bali 80119 (view on Google Map)
A big prawn cracker on top is the perfect way to dip and crunch your way through the bowl. Wholesome, spicy and filling, it’s the perfect quick lunch.

I visited this Warung in November 2012. Though they changed their frontage, the recipe, taste and twist remain the same !