Sundanese food Going healthy, going spicy
The growing influence of the so-called healthy lifestyle has been responsible for the emergence of at least four things on the island: yoga studios, vegetarian food, roadside stalls selling fruit juices and restaurants specializing in Sundanese food.
Known for their wide selection of fresh, often raw, salads and vegetables, Sundanese restaurants have been seen as a healthier alternative to Balinese food stalls, which serve deep-fried red and white meats high in cholesterol.
Sundanese restaurants generally also serve chicken and beef. However, this meaty fare has usually been spiced and boiled first, before being lightly and briefly seared.
In several restaurants, such as Alas Daun in Jl. Teuku Umar, Denpasar, a patron could inspect rows of boiled paru (cow’s lung), empal (seasoned and tenderized beef), boiled tofu, battered tempeh mendoan, babat (seasoned and boiled beef tripe) and boiled chicken, before making a selection.
Once the patron decides on, let’s say, the paru, then a member of staff will take the paru and fry it lightly before serving it.
This restaurant boasts a plateless dining experience. Rice is served on a fresh sheet of banana leaf, hence the name alas daun (literally leaf mat), while the accompanying dishes are served in several small-sized woks. It is a good gimmick, as well as an effective efficiency measure since the establishment doesn’t have to cover the cost of broken plates.
As in any serious Sundanese restaurant, fresh salad — slices of cucumber, round eggplant, long beans, cabbage and basil leaves — are available free of charge and you can take as much as your heart desires, provided that you do not put it in a bag and take it home.
Go easy on the spicy sambal sauces though. Alas Daun offers three different kinds of sambal and they only differ in taste and color. Their spiciness is just the same. They will burn your tongue and throat before forcing tears to flow from your eyes. Fresh salads without sambal are always a safer option in any Sundanese restaurant.