Discovering Malang's culinary traditions

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Discovering Malang's culinary traditions

While the Eng An Kiong Temple in Malang, East Java, is a beauty in itself, a recent visit revealed that its basement is also home to a much-loved food court.

Travelers normally head to Eng An Kiong Chinese temple - locally known as klenteng - in Malang, East Java, to marvel at its architecture and history. And rightly so, since it is the town’s biggest temple and having been built in 1825, it’s the town’s oldest too.

On my visit I was lucky to get additional information from local residents to learn about another side of the kelenteng –one that preserves Malang’s culinary traditions.

The klenteng is located in pecinan (Chinese town) on Jl. Martadinata 1, Malang. I found a small food court in one area in its breezy basement that used to function as a parking lot.

The place was crowded despite its concealed location and modest size. Visitors were divided into those who had just finished praying and those who just wanted to taste Malang’s unique dishes.

Several signature dishes available at the temple:


“Rujak cingur klenteng”

Rujak is a traditional fruit and vegetable salad dish commonly found in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia.

Rujak cingur, meanwhile, is an East Java specialty. It contains various fresh vegetables and fruit such as bangkuang (jicama), young mango, pineapple, cucumber, lontong (rice cake), tofu and tempeh served with petis, a black sauce made from fermented shrimp paste and peanuts.

The special, adventurous - if not a little strange – touch lies in cingur, chewy slices of cooked cow snout.


“Cwi mie afuk”

Cwie mie is Malang’s traditional noodle dish, set apart from other varieties in the country by its usage of minced chicken, lettuce and pickled cucumber.

Cwie mie afuk is handmade egg noodles and wontons and is said to employ an original recipe handed down for generations. The dish is usually sold out after lunch time.


“Heci klenteng”

Heci, also known as ote-ote, is a snack said to have been introduced hundreds of years ago by Chinese coming from Fujian Province. It is a round deep fried cake made from flour and oysters and mixed with either seasoned minced chicken or pork and eaten with the optional chili.

The food stall selling ote-ote also serves ca kwe, lumpia, fried bread and ronde - glutinous balls filled with crushed peanut and served in a hot sweet ginger soup.


“Sate babi klenteng”

A famous pork satay stall sits on one of the corners of the temple’s food court. The satay’s meat is coated with a special barbeque sauce combining salty and sweet flavors with a strong garlic taste and is roasted with the traditional method using charcoal.


Abiau Junior Chinese Food

This food stall offers Chinese-Indonesian items like siomay (steamed dumplings with peanut sauce), steamed meatball, fried rice, noodle soup, tofu in clay pot, lomie-noodle cooked with thick sauce and many more.

Malang is located two hours from Surabaya, the capital of East Java. The city has long been known as a little melting pot where Javanese, Chinese and Madurese culture combine to produce heritage gems.

The temple itself is adorned with beautiful oriental ornaments such as huge red pillars with dragon carvings and tables decorated with amazingly detailed carvings.

Inside the temple is a massive bronze pot where people place incense and a room with a series of gold statues whose appearance is made even more stately with the room’s dim, dramatic lighting.

According to some local residents, Eng An Kiong Temple was built by the 7th descendant of the general of the Chinese Ming Dynasty.


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