How to Order
There’s nothing quite so thrilling as seeing new construction go up in our little town in Papua. What could it be? Perhaps a new restaurant, with some semi western food options? Maybe it’s a play place for kids, with real slides and swings inside? Or better yet, a new grocery store with dairy products! I torture myself with ideas while the slow building progress continues. In the end it usually ends up being a new car fix it shop, or another one of the hundreds of barber shops.
New restaurants are super exciting though. And if you are smart, you will go check them out as soon as possible after their opening day. You know why? Because that is the only time that they are most likely to have what is actually listed on the menu in stock!
I came up with a few guide lines when ordering food at a restaurant in Indonesia (especially in Papua).
1. Keep your expectations low. (You saw a picture of a juicy hamburger on the menu, but it's actually a google image they put there for show)
2. Ask what they have available on the menu first. They will almost certainly only have 25% of what is listed, and you can save yourself some time and disappointment by asking what they have first.
3. Always assume it will be spicy, even if they say it’s not. This one is especially important with kids.
4. Going along with the last point, don’t make your order too complicated. If you don’t want it spicy, you can order the sambal (hot sauce) on the side instead of confusing them by saying you don’t want it spicy at all. Same goes with ingredients you don’t like. Just pick them out rather than ask for them to be left out. Thinking outside of the box is a westerner thing.
5. Order one flavoured drink and at least one water. This might be my preference, but the flared drinks are super sweet and super small, so I always mix the water and flavoured drink for flavour a quantity.
6. Say the item you want, and the quantity second. Example: “Rice, 2. Chicken, 2. Veggies, 1.” instead of “2 rice, 2 chicken and 1 veggies”. I observed this after a year or so living in Indonesia when a seemingly simple order would be met with a redundant question of “how many?” Item first, quantity last.
7. And most important - When they don’t have that delicious butter chicken available, or they are somehow out of rice (trust me, it’s happened) just smile, nod and say “ngak apa-apa” (No problem) :)