While traveling to different countries, what people commonly like to do is to visit iconic places, shopping for gifts, and most importantly, trying out the local dishes. For most trips, the unique culinary experience would be one of the key-memories of that particular journey. By trying out the food consumed daily by the locals, we would be able to understand how the locals live their life.
Indonesia as a country with hundreds of different islands and cultures offers unique culinary experience in each place, one of those choices is Bintan Island. If you’re planning on visiting Bintan, here are some of the local food recommendations.
As the most iconic dish of Bintan, Gonggong is considered as one of the island’s identity. Gonggong is a kind of sea-snail that can be found all around Bintan’s beaches. If this is the first time you’re looking at a cooked snail on your plate, it might seem weird. But it actually tastes good. One way to describe it, the texture is probably most comparable to cuttlefish or squid. You will need to use some kind of tool to eat this, usually, toothpicks, to pick out the meat from its shell. Eating Gonggong is certainly a unique culinary experience, and you will totally miss out if you don't try this while you are in Bintan.
Otak-otak is a grilled fish cake, wrapped in coconut leaves. The fish cake mixture is made from ground fish-meat combined with various spices including garlic, coconut milk, salt, sugar, and many others. The mixture will be wrapped in banana leaves and then grilled. Otak-otak has a strong flavor, both from the fish and the spices. Typically, you would want to eat it while it’s still warm, so you'll have to either eat your Otak-otak in the place, or some restaurants also sell frozen Otak-otak for you to take home. There are several types of Otak-otak available in Bintan, but most people would recommend you to try Otak-otak tulang, a type of Otak-otak with chunks of fish meat and bones in it. You can eat Otak-otak as a snack, or along with steamed white rice as a meal.
Bintan has a tropical climate. Obviously, it would be pretty warm most time of the year. But if you happen to travel around the island on the rainy season, this would be a perfect food. The local name of this soup is "Sup Ikan Batam", which indicates where it is originated from. With the warmth and savory soup and the juicy fish meat, it's a good weapon against the cold. Bintan's traditional fish soup typically consists of soup with various spices and chunks of snappers, mackerel, or other fish meat. If you are looking for food that can replenish your stamina, this is my top recommendation.
The next entry on this list is a little bit different since it has nothing to do with seafood. Roti Jala or Roti Kirai is a kind of pancake that resembles lace or net, hence the name Roti Jala, which literally means “Net Bread”. It is a traditional Malay snack which heavily influenced by Indian and Arabian culture and you will eat this with lamb or beef curry. As far as I know, you can easily find this around Tanjung Pinang, if you happen to stay in a different area, you will need to make some effort to get it. Nevertheless, it is totally worth the shot if you are looking for a delightful fusion dish.
Finally the last but not least. Lakse is noodle-like food made out of cornstarch mixture. It might look and sounds like pretty plain, but you will eat these noodles with spicy and savory curry which is the key to the dish's rich flavor. There are many kinds of Lakse, each with their own unique curry soup, and in Bintan, you will get a bowl of mouthwatering fish-curry as the soup. The unique part of this Lakse is that the noodles will be divided into small servings and served on aralia leaves. You may put these small servings into one single bowl, or eat them as it is from the leaves. If you want to get the taste of this traditional dish, you can go to Penyengat Island, a small island only a 15-minute boat ride away from Tanjung Pinang. Penyengat Island and Tanjung Pinang are the main destinations of Island of Kings tour package from Bintan Resorts Tour.