Warungs, the good, the bad and the sublime.

From the beginning then. Warungs. These are small places which serve a huge bariety of local Indoensian food. They are generally narrow shop house type places or occassionally bigger. They have between 6 and 8 tables with bench type or plastic seats. They usually have a drinks cooler filled with soft drinks and accassionally beer. 

The tables have a varity of platic containers or bottles with various types of hot sauces or “Sambals” some cutlery and if you are lucky paper napkins pr a toiet roll in a special dispenser. The food is either cooked at the front or out the back. Usually there are glass framed displays showing what is on offer although it’s usually anyones guess what that means. There may be on or two large pots filled with Stock and kept simmering with small green gas bottles and burners. They have a variety of bowls, not normally with the same design but usually about the same size. In the display you will see differnt types of vegetables, noodles and meats or meat balls or what ever they specialise in. 

There will either be a surly man, a laughing Ibu or a happy young man who will take your order. 

Mostly the selection is pretty easy, some of them will have a sign outside telling what they have, normally more than do but that’s OK. and sometimes on the wall they will have pictures of what they have on offer but generally it is pretty easy and you can simply point to what you want and hey presto it’s on it’s way to your table in a couple of minutes. 

Each warung will specialise. Some as Bakso – meat balls, Sate – Chicken or goat and very often pork. Some will have other specialities. And some will spcialise in food from differnt areas in Indonesia. You will find Warnung Muslima, Wartegs and Waring Ibu Ayu or Dewi or Anna, Nasi Champur or other Rice places etc.  Warung Muslima are generally Halal and muslim style food. Wartegs are serving food from Tegal in Java and Warung Ibusomething generally have noodles with recipes and flavours dreamt up by the the own – yes Ibu Ayu or Ibu Anna and are usualy prety much the same as anywhere else. 

Some specialise in rice, some in Pork in Bali a lot of them have a roaost pig at the front) and other specialise in fish or vegetables. All of them are pretty similar and all of them are cheap. 

You will not immediately appreciate the standard of apparent hygiene as the places loook pretty mucky, dark and the vaious condiment bowls and bottle a lot less hygiene than the Ritz-Carlton. However, this is generally because the places are well used and busy with people coming i and out all day every day and most people are not fussy about the loks but about getting something down their necks quickly and cheaply. 

You can order ice lemon or ice tea when you order your meal and you need to remember the ice they use is not made from distilled water and the water usued is usually boiled tap water. Or you can simply take drinks out of the cooler and ask for a glass again with the standard ice. 

If you decide, and I strongly advise that you do, to try these establishments, use your brain and common sense but also your sense of adventure. You are unlikely to fall ill if the place is busy and pretty worn out looking or if the place where they prepare the food looks cleanish. Simply look around and look at what is on offer. the food is usually fresh and clean and the stck pots hot enough to kill most of the things that will upset your intestines. 

Take your sense of adventure in hand and try some of these places and find out just how much fun they can be and how good the food is. Best of all the price is so sillily cheap your can’t really go wrong. 

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