A Glimpse of Malang

Asia, Indonesia

The City Hall

Crisp cool air refreshed my skin, the wind blew on my face, giving me a chilling sensation I have not felt for a long time from big cities in Indonesia. Yet I was in Malang, one of the biggest cities in East Java. Five years ago I wouldn’t be so excited to feel such temperate climate when I still lived in Bandung, the mountain-surrounded West Javan capital. However since moving to Jakarta in 2008, my skin has adapted to a much warmer and more humid climate.

This year for the first time I went to Malang whose residents have a deep-rooted and passionate rivalry with Surabaya, the provincial capital and Indonesia’s second biggest city, as is the case with Sydneysiders and Melburnians. The outspoken and often confrontational nature of East Javanese does not help and nothing is more evident to show this rivalry than the football matches between Persebaya – Surabaya’s biggest football club – and Arema – Malang’s pride – where raucous supporters from both sides always heat up every match night.

However the nature of Malang herself is anything but rough. The leafy streets and the abundance of old buildings dating back to the Dutch colonial time made me feel as if I was exploring the streets of Bandung, as both cities were in fact popular among Europeans during colonial time who sought refuge from the heat of Javanese coastal cities. The only difference of both cities is the language people speak.

During my short visit in Batu – Malang’s satellite city – in June, exploring what Malang had to offer was rather ambitious as my coworkers and I only had so little time to barely scratch the surface of the city. The only feasible thing we could do was sampling the local and Dutch dishes as Malang boasted some reputable restaurants serving authentic Dutch delicacies.

That brought us to a place located right next to the City Hall – Restoran Melati – which occupied a beautiful old yet expansive building in which artifacts from various cultures were showcased. Chinese, Javanese, and Middle Eastern decorative elements proved to be able to complement each other in a brave experiment of cultural juxtaposition.

The second restaurant we went to was Oen, right at the heart of colonial Malang across the Cathedral. Upon entering the restaurant, a signboard written in Dutch welcomed us, informing visitors how long it has been serving Dutch dishes. The wooden interior of the restaurant with old furniture and home appliances created an unmistakably vintage Dutch ambiance to the restaurant. I examined the menu, and ox tongue steak proved to be too irresistible for me. Succulent, tender, and tasty. Everything you can imagine from a perfectly-cooked ox tongue. Meanwhile, the fruit ice cream was a perfect dessert to balance the rich flavor of the ox tongue and other side dishes we had.

Regardless our full stomachs, we couldn’t miss the chance to try pecel kawi, a traditional delicacy of boiled vegetables and various side dishes served on banana leaf to enhance the fragrance of the meal. Simple yet satisfying, like Malang herself. As the sun started to set, rows of ornately decorated Dutch buildings caught my attention on our way back to Batu. One day, I will come back to spend a more proper amount of time to explore East Java’s second city.


Refreshment, for the Body and Soul


Victory over Evil


A Street Food Cart in Front of the Train Station


Brantas River, Running Through Dense Residential Areas


A Protestant Church


Oen, Arguably Malang’s Most Famous Dutch Restaurant


Satisfying the Taste Buds Since 1930


The Ornate Interior of Restoran Melati


A Juxtaposition of Cultures


A Mini Museum in The Restaurant


Chinese Puppets


A Fake Temple


More Artifacts


The Statue which Purportedly Dates Back to the Time of Shang Dynasty, Some 3,200 Years Ago


One of the Specialties of Restoran Melati


Ice Cream at Oen


Dutch Croquette


Succulent Ox Tongue Steak, My Favorite

The Ingredients of Pecel Kawi

The Ingredients of Pecel Kawi

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Based in Jakarta, always curious about the world, always fascinated by ancient temples, easily pleased by food.

53 thoughts on “A Glimpse of Malang”

  1. meidianakusuma says:

    Aaaaaa Oen Ice cream, that is a traditional ice cream similar to Ragusa, Right?
    I really want to try


      • meidianakusuma says:

        For traditional Ice cream, in Jakarta you can try Ragusa ice cream in Veteran 1 street or Tan ek Tjoan ice cream in Cikini Street kak.


  2. Terima kasih Bama. I love this descriptive post and I can just imagine being there, both with the description and photos… and educating me on the Indonesian football culture too 😉


    • Sama-sama Sofia! I’m glad you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed ‘Papaya Pieces’. 🙂 I’m fascinated particularly with your post on ayam penyet. It looks delicious!


  3. arthur setyadi says:

    Bama… lu harusnya nyobain rawon nguling dan nasi bok di daerah kidul dalem… hehehehee… enak deeh


    • Lho, ada rawon nguling juga di sana? Waktu itu nyobainnya justru di Jawa Timur, pas perjalanan dari Surabaya ke Malang. Itu rawon terenak yang pernah gw makan. Anyway, thanks buat sarannya!


      • Lho rawon nguling bukan nya di pasuruan – probolinggo yang arah mau ke bromo ??? baru tau kalo di malang juga ada.

        Btw kangen nongkrong di toko oen, nyobain ice cream nya sama pastel :0


      • Eh tunggu, iya ding itu pas perjalanan ke arah Probolinggo kayaknya, hehe. Sorry salah inget. Waktu di Oen gak sempet nyobain pastelnya tapi es krimnya emang enak banget!


  4. This succulent, tender, and tasty ox tongue of Oen really caught my attention, Bama, No good, because then I took half interest to other pictures, haha 🙂

    Btw, thanks for visiting my new home Disgiovery.com 😉


    • Lol. But you have to try that ox tongue, Badai, especially as a devout carnivore yourself. 🙂 I’ve tried ox tongues in other places but the one at Oen was truly special.
      My pleasure! You have such a nice new home. 🙂


  5. You’ve inspired me! I’d heard that Malang was a place that we should visit but sadly we’ve not had enough time – I’ll definitely go there when we get back, it looks very interesting and SO different from Jakarta 😉


    • It was indeed a world away from the heat, hustle, bustle, and everything you don’t like about Jakarta. 🙂 Apart from the preserved Dutch buildings, I’ve heard people raving about the food. You might want to check that too.


  6. If only we had a few more days when we were in Bromo last year – Malang looks like such a lovely garden city! The hybrid museum-restaurant is something I just didn’t expect, it’s clear that its owners are lovers of beauty. Makasih for giving me one more Indonesian locale for my wishlist. 😉


    • I know you would have loved it, James. The old Dutch buildings remind me of Bandung, and some were even more beautiful and well-preserved than the ones in Bandung. The owner of that restaurant actually owns another restaurant in Jakarta with similar concept. I wonder if I should give it a try one day. 🙂 Thanks James!


    • Ohhh, asli Malang to? Iya nih pengen kapan-kapan ke Malang lagi. Udaranya enak, makanannya cocok. Nanti tak kabari ya kalo aku ke Malang lagi.


  7. Oh im salivating…..belum ke malang. Looks like it is certainly worth checking out. I can imagine it was a treat after Jakarta. Its not really
    my fav city although everyone I have met from there has been fantastic. Loved your photos. Thanks for sharing : ) Trees


    • I didn’t expect Malang would be that interesting either. But like the people, once you’ve got acquainted with it, you’ll love it right away. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed this post!


    • Oh I didn’t know that you’re from Malang. What a nice surprise! You have such a lovely hometown. 🙂


      • There are many temples in the city, such as Badut temple, Singosari temple etc. I think you’ve to go back sometime to explore the city more :). Though I always go there once in a year, I don’t think I know the city very well. Like always, I enjoy your pics, waiting for your next story.


      • Yes! When I come back to Malang I really want to explore the temples, especially those from Singosari era. Thanks again!


  8. Have just been to Semarang’s Oen. One or two rum ice cream scoops do get me addicted to be back again 😀 Besok kudu wajib mampir Malang’s Oen deh, Pengen ngerasain suasana tempoe doeloenya itu loh yang bikin ngangenin!!


    • Hi Hendra. I have been to Semarang’s Oen several times, but in my opinion the food and ice creams in Malang’s Oen were much better. So you really should give it a try! 🙂


      • Stickied and noted!! I will i will, it’s been on December bucket plan to visit that other Oen 😀 And arghh, I miss their Bitterballen too hehe


  9. nice descriptive,
    berdasarkan deskripsi yang diceritakan, Malang lebih banyak menawarkan makanan khas yang lebih tradisional daripada Bandung,

    Meskipun kota yang sama-sama meninggalkan bangunan sejarah belanda, Bandung sudah mengemas kuliner-nya dengan menggabungkan budaya tradisional khas Indonesia, dipadu dengan gaya barat yang menambah nilai jual makanan itu sendiri.

    2 kota yang karakter-nya sangat mirip, tapi tetap berbeda :), nice writing


    • Thank you! Saya lebih banyak menceritakan makanan tradisional Malang karena kalo pas lagi traveling dan gak nyobain makanan khas setempat dan lebih milih makan makanan yang ‘aman’ kok rasanya sih sayang kalo buat saya.

      Bandung memang salah satu andalannya kreativitas warganya dalam mengolah makanan sih. Saya sendiri dulu pernah buka bisnis makanan di Bandung pas masih kuliah. 🙂


  10. Hi Bama, it’s nice learn about another charming Indonesian city. That restaurant cum museum looks very interesting. And again, you food pics look so inviting. The dish with banana leaves wrapping made me drool in particular.


    • Hi Marisol! Malang is indeed a surprisingly nice city with so many dishes to try. I would go back in a heartbeat and sample more local food. 🙂


    • I surely hope so, Fahmi. I can see why you missed Malang that much. It has so many interesting things to offer.


  11. LAMusings says:

    your descriptions and images always paint such a vivid picture. I hope to one day make it to Indonesia! – Lauren


    • Thanks Lauren! I’m glad you enjoyed this post. I always try to capture the beauty of the places I went to through pictures and words. So, I really appreciate that! 🙂 Hopefully you’ll find yourself coming to Indonesia sooner than later.


  12. Baru sekali atau dua kali ke Malang, sayangnya belum sempat menjelajah 😦
    Anyway, I’m curious about the dish pictured before the ice cream picture. What was it, Bama? Pecel kah?


    • Next time mesti disempetin tuh untuk jelajah Malang. Saya juga pengen balik lagi sih, salah satunya mau explore bangunan-bangunan tua yang masih bagus-bagus.
      About that dish, unfortunately I didn’t take a note on its name. 😦 Tapi yang pasti bukan pecel sih. Itu kalo gak salah ayam apa gitu.


  13. Hello, Bama the traveler!

    I just visited Malang last Dec (2013) and had explored almost the entire city (explore, not culinary). It’s a quite nice city, but too small to explore.

    So I traveled to the south across the county to the famous beaches. And also visited an enormous mosque along the journey.

    Conclusion, Malang is traveler’s friendly, but Batu has more.

    “Leave nothing but footprints. Take nothing but pictures. Kill nothing but time”


    • Hi George, a fellow travel addict. 🙂

      Actually I stayed in Batu during that trip and I really liked it there. I remember our driver told us about an ancient temple not far from Batu – that alone would be enough reason for me to go back. I also heard about beautiful beaches to the south of Malang, might check them out as well.

      Thanks for dropping by!


  14. Have you ever seen or joined Festival Malang Kembali or Malang Tempo Doeloe? I was in Malang for a year and managed to see it once, and despite being very crowded and uncomfortable (not sure I want to see it again because of that), it’s one annual festival in Malang that I think visitors should see, just like the weekly Pasar Minggu. I always miss the city. It’s a heaven for someone who love to hangout in cafés and tasting coffee and good food like me :p


    • I agree. Hopefully the next time I go to Malang I’ll have more time to explore the city and its surrounding regions.


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