Header image courtesy of @ir1968 (via Instagram)
Originally published by Aarohi Narain. Last updated by Mina Chan.
As the largest archipelago in the world and one of the most populous and ethnically diverse countries, Indonesia presents a stunning variety of regional cuisines. Although dishes like nasi goreng, gado-gado, and satay have come to stand for Indonesian food in the global imagination, it’s difficult to pin down any unifying logic to the cuisine, which has been shaped by crisscrossing legacies of trade, migration, and colonialism over centuries—and that’s part of what makes it all the more interesting to explore and unpack.
Largely owing to the swelling demand for foreign domestic help, there’s a sizable Indonesian population in Hong Kong. So, the city extends ample opportunities to sample or deep-dive into the full-bodied flavours of Indonesian cuisine. Here are our top picks for where to find the best Indonesian restaurants in Hong Kong.
Getting a nod from the Michelin Guide is no easy feat, but Lucky Indonesia does it without missing a beat. A neighbourhood stalwart with some of the kindest service, it has been awarded the Bib Gourmand for many years. Its mee goreng ($68) and nasi kuning ($68), seasoned with turmeric, ginger, and coconut milk, caught the inspectors’ attention, but don’t gloss over the rest of the menu—it’s replete with simple, well-prepared Central Javanese fare. For unadulterated coastal bliss, try the pepes ikan ($88), fish marinated in aromatic spices and herbs, and cooked in banana leaves. The classical dessert-drink es cendol ($30)—coconut milk mixed with palm sugar syrup and green rice flour jelly—is top-notch, too.
Lucky Indonesia, 46 Tung Ming Street, Kwun Tong
More often than not, you can find uncannily delicious food waiting at the end of a couple of dimly lit staircases inside a tumbledown building. And this is certainly true for Warung Malang Club. Popular among the office crowds for their halal, affordable, and reliably tastebud-searing meals—they don’t temper the spice level for anyone. Head there for the steamed rice with four side dishes, nasi campur ($55), for a quick, hearty meal, or opt for the ketoprak ($55), a vermicelli salad with a peanut garlic sauce, for a cool alternative, but can be no less spicy. Ignore the “members-only” sign because Warung Malang is open to all.
Warung Malang Club, 2/F, Dragon Rise Building, 9 Pennington Street, Causeway Bay
Rounding the corner into Causeway Bay’s Sugar Street, the first thing you’re likely to spot is Kampoeng’s glass display brimming with sundry fried treats and vibrant-hued lapis (starting from $10), a Dutch-influenced layer cake. Head downstairs for the restaurant, where dishes like the bebek penyet ($70), a fried duck with raw chilli sambal, and nasi campur (starting from $68) shine. Choose from a wide variety of shaved ice concoctions for dessert.
Kampoeng, B/F, Causeway Bay Commercial Building, 1–5 Sugar Street, Causeway Bay
Located right next door to Kampoeng opposite an Indonesian grocery store, Pandan Leaf offers up a vast menu of explicitly pandan-forward foods. Here, the focus is on interpreting the Indonesian-Chinese blended cuisine of Kalimantan, the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo. Familiar items like beef rendang ($88) and nasi ayam ($68) are served with green-tinted pandan rice, while the fish maw soup (starting at $78)—modelled after the herbal soups of the region—comes with a meat of your choice. For an elaborate dessert, pick the es Shanghai ($58), a shaved ice cooler garnished with syrups and jellies in bright technicolour.
Pandan Leaf, Shop B2, Causeway Bay Commercial Building, 1–5 Sugar Street, Causeway Bay
Awarded “The Plate” distinction by the Michelin Guide, Kaum offers diners an artful gastronomic tour of Indonesia. The team behind Kaum took the time to travel across the archipelago to learn about indigenous cooking methods, ingredients, and flavours found in the diverse communities that make up the nation. With a selection of small and big plates charting routes from North Sulawesi to South Sumatra, onto Bali and beyond, Kaum is best enjoyed in a larger party. Don’t miss the section dedicated solely to sambal dishes (starting from $35), the spicy relish without which your meal would be incomplete.
Kaum, 100 Third Street, Sai Ying Pun
With palm trees and rattan lamps, the tropical vibe at IR 1968 (formerly known as Indonesia Restaurant 1968) feels a bit cliché, but the restaurant comes through on the food front. Signature items include the laksa laut ($138), beef shank rendang ($88), and lidah semur ($88), braised ox tongue coated in a rich Javanese gravy fragrant with black pepper and cloves. The dishes are prepared thoughtfully and the effects of the spices more deeply felt: Instead of striking from the front, the bold flavours unfold leisurely on the palate.
IR 1968, 5/F, The L Place, 139 Queen’s Road Central, Central
While there’s no shortage of stalls in Hong Kong to cater to your street food whims and fancies, satay is generally harder to come by. However, if it’s authentic satay you’re craving, look no further than Indonesian Sate House in Shau Kei Wan, which has been doling out skewers for years. Bathed in a spicy-sweet peanut sauce, there’s a variety of meats and seafood on offer: beef, chicken, pork, lamb, shrimp, squid, and more for $23 or under, with the sole exception being eel, priced at $35. Don’t panic if you can’t read the bilingual Chinese and Bahasa Indonesia menu—the server speaks English, and most dishes are delicious.
Indonesian Sate House, G/F, 76D Shau Kei Wan Main Street East, Shau Kei Wan
Amin serves up a concise menu of halal Indonesian Chinese food. Apart from nasi rendang ($60), the most popular item here is bakmi singkawang ($42)—in essence, a bowl of noodles with toppings. It tells a story of migration uniquely compelling for Hong Kong diners: The bakmi (wheat-based “meat noodles”) is of Fujianese provenance, said to have been brought to the Indonesian archipelago by Hokkien immigrants. Consequently, the trimmings may feel familiar: char siu, fish balls, dumplings, and krupuk (deep-fried crackers).
Amin Indonesian Restaurant, G/F, 260 Cheung Sha Wan Road, Cheung Sha Wan
Feeling peckish after a day out in Sai Kung? Head to Bakso for the bakso Indonesian beef ball noodles ($70), doused in black pepper and topped with a generous dollop of Indonesian sambal, much to the delight of spice lovers. If you’re looking for smaller bites for the post-swim munchies, have the grilled beef balls—bakso bakar ($48)—or krupuk ($38). Share a slice of Indonesian layer cake ($18) before you leave, with your belly full and spirits high.
Bakso, 9 Wan King Path, Sai Kung
Although Causeway Bay is widely considered the foremost Indonesian hub on Hong Kong Island, Kowloon has its own Little Indonesia. Fuk Wa Street in Sham Shui Po is home to a cluster of Indonesian businesses bursting with activity come Sunday.
Less than a minute away from MTR Exit B between 115 and 117 Fuk Wa Street, opposite two Indonesian grocery stores and a counter for remittance services, you’ll see a nook between shop numbers 107 and 115. Step in and behold the mini complex of Indonesian stores. Kopi sachets, karipap, assorted fritters, and modestly priced yet generously portioned meals—you can find it all here. Walk around, be curious, and take your pick.
Fuk Wa Street, Sham Shui Po