Now that I've organised all the photos, I think it's a good time to tell you about my trip to Indonesia a few weeks ago.
My journey to Medan, the capital of North Sumatra in Indonesia took just over 20 hours, flight and transit. A quick one hour flight from Newcastle to London, followed by 13 hours non-stop flight to Singapore. I actually really enjoy long flights... I find it strangely relaxing. You know, you have own little space, no one can contact you and you have those hours to watch films on the little telly, catch up with your readings whilst drinking. What not to like?! I also quite like plane food, on long flights only. Some airlines do provide good service and I tend to fly with the same company. My favourite is Singapore Airlines. I didn't fly first class or anything (I wish!), just the regular economy. Then from Singapore, it's another one hour flight to Medan.
I was very excited to visit Medan. As you may already know, I was born and raised in this city. This was my first visit in four years, so I was well excited to be reunited with my family, friends and the foods I love.
It is common knowledge for people who live in western part of Indonesia that Medan is known for two things: One, horrific traffic. It's just mad. Driving in Medan is possibly one of the most challenging task. I used to drive here and I couldn't do it any more, especially with my awful sense of direction. Two, absolutely fantastic food. I don't even know where to begin explaining this. People from all over Indonesia and neighbouring countries like Malaysia and Singapore would come to Medan just to eat. You can eat at fancy restaurants, but some of the most delicious places to eat are actually the not-so-big restaurants but very well-known. Do ask the locals.
Medan is the third largest city in Indonesia with population of approximately 2.5 million people. The population is mainly made up of Bataknese, Javanese, Minang, Chinese and Indian. Medan's multi cultural society is truly reflected in its cuisines. I ate a lot, I mean like A LOT during the 2 weeks when I was there.
Perhaps, I'll start here - Medan is popular for having a wide variety of Chinese noodles and I am a freak for noodles. Mi Tiong Sim is one of the most popular noodle shops in Medan. It is located at Selat Panjang street where some of the oldest Chinese eateries can be found here and is definitely the place to go for some great food. In the evening, the street is packed with stalls selling all kinds of dishes, loads of noodles, but you can also get steamed buns, stir fried dishes, satay, chicken rice, etc.
So, what's actually in Mi Tiong Sim? By the way, before I forget, Mi or sometimes also spelled Mie means noodle and Tiong Sim is the brand. Tiong Sim noodle is handmade and is very thin as you can hopefully see. The cooked and seasoned noodles are topped with thin slices of char siew pork (Chinese barbecued pork), pork dumplings, shredded chicken, slices of spring onions and crispy shallots. Served on the side are slices of chilli and a bowl of fragrant pork broth. Utterly delicious.
Besides noodles, the shop also offers varieties of congee and pek cam ke, steamed chicken in garlic, ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil. Served with fresh coriander leaves, spring onions, ginger and salty, sour vegetable which name I cannot remember.
Another side dish I love and I know it's not to everyone's taste, is hati dan ampela ayam (chicken liver and gizzards). I think they're absolutely delicious, but they must be cooked correctly.
The eating continues...