Surrounded by hilly apple plantations in Batu and hills in Tretes, during the colonial era Malang was hailed as the Switzerland of Java.
The city used to be a favorite retiring place for the Dutch civil servants, as it is known for its cool climate and scenic beauty.
Culture-wise, it is known as a city influenced by not only Javanese culture but also the Chinese Peranakan culture, thanks to the rich Chinese merchants of Java’s glorious sugar business of centuries ago.
Fast forward to this day, Malang is still rich with a nostalgic ambience as a reminder of the small town’s golden days. Here, plenty of authentic Dutch buildings, Chinese temples, the old Chinatown and old residential houses still stand their ground elegantly.
Aside from historical buildings, food can also be a medium for reminiscing and this town is not short of classic dishes influenced by Indonesian, Dutch and Chinese cuisine. We have listed several of the popular choices:
One of Restaurant Inggil’s features is its wallpaper, depicting an enlarged photo montage of Indonesia’s President and Vice President Soekarno-Hatta, attending a Congress in Malang back in 1947- just two years after Indonesia declared its independence.
Other pieces of the restaurant’s decorations include framed, original newspapers in Dutch from the colonial era, old typewriters and antique radios.
This restaurant mainly serves Indonesian food, especially Javanese food. Try warm nasi jagung-rice cooked with corn and served with mendol, which is deep fried and mashed tempe, spicy sambal condiment, and urap-urap (vegetable salad with shredded coconut and spices).
This dish is rightly accompanied by the traditional herbal drink beras kencur.
Restaurant Inggil is not a black-tie restaurant, but it gives its visitors a peek into what the fight against colonialism was like in the little town.
Jl. Gajahmada No. 4
Melati Restaurant-Hotel Tugu
This award-winning hotel hosts a lovely poolside restaurant, which serves a variety of dishes ranging from Dutch colonial recipes to Chinese Peranakan dishes and even local street food such as Nasi Bhuk Madura and Angsle.
Hotel Tugu is known for its signature interior decoration, which usually features antique collections of the owner Anhar Setjadibrata.
One room near to the Melati Restaruant is dedicated to the memory of Oei Tiong Ham - a sugar baron hailed as one of the richest men from Asia in the late 1800’s.
One photo, which is to me the most intriguing in the room, depicts Oei Hui Lan - his beloved daughter with her very long black hair.
Other objects in the room include European antiques of the art deco era, demonstrating the lavish life of this Chinese tycoon from Semarang.
Jl Tugu No. 3
Arguably one of the oldest restaurants in Malang, Toko Oen is one of Malang’s famous landmarks.
The eatery had been the place to see and be seen for the Dutch or the wealthy Indonesian and Chinese back in the 1930s.
Its menu is varied, but the best picks are certainly Eurasian Indonesian-Dutch influenced food such as Bitterballen, Huzarensalade and various Hollandsche Biefstuk.
Visitors to this restaurant include elderly Dutch couples, who are often seen enjoying their meal while tracing memories of their stay in Malang decades ago.
Jl. Jend. Basuki Rahmat No. 5