Note: Many restaurants are marked with a black R and coffee
shops with C in the maps. Those marked with a red R or
C, are listed here as they have contributed to the Banda Aceh
section of www.sumatraecotourism.com. The list of contributors is
still very short as we just started setting up the system.
is the most important social drink in Aceh. Aceh has many nice kinds
of coffee, such as Gayo from the central highlands and Ulee Kareung.
You can find excellent coffee of both Robusta and Arabica coffee in
the shops, but most coffee shops serve Ulee Kareung Robusta coffee
as standard. The souvenir shops sell different kinds of coffee to
bring home. Kopi Luwak (Civet Coffee) is a Sumatran specialty. Jack
Nicholson made it famous worldwide by drinking it several times in
the movie "The Bucket List". Kopi Luwak is the far most exclusive
and expensive coffee available. It is made of red coffee beans being
swallowed by the Civet cat and fermented in its stomach, and later
been collected by humans. It is available in a few places and can be
bought in the souvenir shops.
The Acehnese coffee culture is very visible. It is hard to find a
corner without a traditional coffee shop where the coffee is
filtered through a big textile sieve with big movements up and down.
In the morning there are always plenty of traditional sweet cakes of
all kinds. Many are difficult to resist! If you don’t like your
coffee too sweet say "kurang gula" (less sugar) or Tanpa gula
(without sugar). Best is maybe to say "No gula!"
The latest trend in Banda Aceh is new fancy huge coffee shops where
all the young people hang out. They all have free Wi-Fi (Internet
hotspot) and nice coffee. Some play loud music, some show European
football on big screens, and some have nice food. Some are popular
with elderly government people, some with hip youngsters, some with
environmental activists, some with students and so forth. Many bring
their laptops and spend long time on-line sipping coffee. The
popularity of certain coffee shops change from month to month
depending on the whims of the coffee drinkers. Most of them also
have big outdoor sections.
Food Stands and Restaurants
There are several types of restaurants, all from “kaki lima”,
portable food cart that suddenly appears in late afternoon, to
“fancy” Western restaurants. With the arrival of foreign help
workers after Tsunami came several Western restaurants. Since then
most of the Westerners have moved out and the number of these kind
of restaurants has decreased.
The kaki Lima food carts can offer very nice and spicy traditional
food, which comes recommended. Many areas open up for these food
carts in the evening. In Peunayong, in front of Hotel Medan is the
famous Rex. It was once the place of the cinema Rex. After it burnt
down people started to sell food and drinks in this place and the
name Rex became a synonym in Aceh for an open air eating place with
many food carts. The Original Rex was renovated a few years back and
unfortunately it lost its original character. However it is still
interesting enough for a newcomer in Banda Aceh. Along the nearby
road Jl. A Yani is a long row of the food and juice vendors that
rejected the renovated Rex. One can find some really nice food here
in the evenings. There are plenty of areas with food carts and never
far from your hotel.
The classic Mie Aceh (fried noodle Aceh style). It often comes with
squid, crab, egg, or beef. Try out Ayam Tangkap, a spicy chicken
fried with different kinds of herbs and leaves. Gule Pli' U is mixed
vegetables such as Green Papaya, different kinds of leaves, and
assorted vegetables cooked with fermented coconut. Sate Matang is
the Acehnese version of sate. The Banda Aceh Tourism Office has
published a very nice booklet called Culinary Guide in Banda Aceh.
It contains recipes and information on food stuffs, but
unfortunately only in Indonesian language. Due to its proximity to
the ocean, fresh sea food such as Udang (shrimps), Ikan Bakar (BBQ
Fish) or Cumi Cumi (Squid) is never far away either.
Other Sumatran Food:
The famous Minangkabau (or Padang) food from west Sumatra is of
course also available in Banda Aceh.
Javanese food completes the food map of Banda Aceh. Try Wong Solo.
Banda Aceh has an old and well-established Chinese population. Most
of them live in Peunayong, north and east of the river around Jl. T.
Polem. Most Chinese restaurants can be found in Jl. Kartini, near
Several American Fast-food chains have invaded Banda Aceh; KFC, A &
W, and Pizza hut. There are however also restaurants for those of
you that fancy something more European and not so fast, such as Cafe
Bohnen, La Piaza and the Steak House.
Fresh Fruit Juices:
Nowhere in Indonesia is there such a big selection of fresh fruit
juices. Try Terong Belanda (Tamarillo or Tree Tomato), Marquisa
(Passion fruit, the yellow version), Sirsak (Soursop), Nangka
(Jack-fruit), Jeruk Nipis (Lime), Nanas (Pineapple), Alpokat
(Avocado, often with chocolate and condensed milk), Wortel (carrot)
or a combination. Try for example “Martabe” a very popular mix of
Tamarillo and Passion Fruit. If you don’t like it too sweet say
“kurang gula” (less sugar) or Tanpa gula (without sugar).
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