I have little knowledge of Surabaya and all I know it is the 2nd largest city after Jakarta in Indonesia and the city served as a commercial trading hub in East Java. Recently, I visited this city when my Indonesian colleague, Fredie invited me for a short weekend trip. Knowing I will be in good hand, all I did was just booked a flight and head over there.
After check-in into my hotel, I headed off to House of Sampoerna. This tobacco museum was within a Dutch colonial-style building. Within its block, it housed about 6,000 workers rolling cigarettes manually all by hand. Each of the workers was stationed from rolling, cutting, gluing to packaging. To my amazement, you could see the speed of their hands moving like a robot.
For lunch, I have insisted on local cuisine as opposed to Western or Chinese food which I could find back home. Fredie had brought me to a cozy joint which served authentic Indonesian cuisine, Cafesera. I have ordered Lontong Balapan and a Rujak Cingur to share. Lontong Balapan consisted nasi impit, fried tahu, noodles and fresh bean sprouts in a sweet broth. It was served with chillies and prawn paste at the side. I named Rujak Cingur as Rojak with a twist. It was a mixed of cucumber in cubes, fried tahu, slice beefs, tempe and noodles accompanied with thick peanut and prawn paste sauce. My meal became extra special with a big smile as a sipped away with Soda Gembira. A soda based refreshing drink with sweetened milk and rose syrup.
After lunch, Fredie took me sightseeing within the city. The city was surrounded with lots of greenery and along the way I could see the existence of well kept Dutch colonial buildings. We took a ride across Madura Island via Suramadu Bridge (love bridge). Along the way we stopped by the stalls to check out the local batik, sea produce and handicrafts.
Not to be missed in Surabaya was to try Rawon, a beef and herb stew. We patronised this popular joint, Rawon Setan (translated to Devil’s Rawon) for dinner. The restaurant’s name was co-inside with its late operation hours which catered for night devils craving for a bowl of Rawon. The meat was tender with a rich herbs broth, prefect match with a plate of white rice. Moreover, we added on our menu with Tahu Campur from the shop adjoined. Tahu Campur was similar to our version of Mee Rojak. However, its ingredients consisted of fried tahu, beef stripes, tempe, noodles and fish crackers topping up with prawn paste gravy.
The next day, we visited a local market, Pasar Atum for some shopping. The shops were spread out systematically and we could get anything from jewellery, batik, to food stuff such as coffee, peanuts and kerepek (crackers). I had bought some local cake lapis to bring home.
On the way to Tangulangin, we stopped by Lumpur Lapindo at Sidoarjo. The area was flooded with mud as a results of the quest of oil drilling by the local authority in 2006 . Many houses were damaged and the villagers were left homeless from the mud tradegy. Leatherware lovers should visit Tanggulangin, a leather goods manufacturer village. There were so many choices to choose from bags, wallets, jackets to shoes at wholesale price.
On my last night in Surabaya, we visited the popular Ayam Goreng President for dinner. The chicken dish had been marinated with spice and herbs and deep fried to crisp. We also savoured some side dishes such as bebek goreng (fried duck meat) and tahu pong. The dishes were accompanied with fragrant steam rice and a special black soya sauce infused with chillis and slice onions. An unplanned trip turned out to be fruitful and fulfiling with my goal of trying new food. I’ll definitely be back for another trip to explore the lush nature of Mt Bromo, Tretes in this great Majapahit Kingdom.