“The highlight of me sampling Nasi Montes was my tongue being burnt slowly by its spiciness, which left a tingling aftertaste.
On my second day in Lombok, I made my way to Pasar Kopang. The sun hadn’t even risen yet, but I had to force my eyes open to savour Nasi Campur Kopang. My driver parked the car a kilometre away from the market, from which I had to take a cidomo (a horse-drawn cart). By the time we got there, the market was already teeming with customers and sellers. Inside the market is Bu Nur Sah, who sells Kopang’s classic mixed rice. She doesn’t remember the exact date she started her business, but she guaranteed me that it has been more than 30 years. There was a row of large aluminium bowls filled with various dishes that she prepared beforehand at 4am. Some of them include Sayur Nangka (jackfruit in coconut milk), Ayam Pelalah (Lombok’s signature spicy chicken), and Gulai Sapi (beef in coconut milk). They were a tad heavy for breakfast, but I assumed that that’s how the people of Kopang like to begin their day with. With no tables and chairs in sight, customers are only able to order their food to-go. I opted to select all the dishes available, along with a serving of rice. When it came time to sample my Nasi Campur Kopang, I was grinning from ear to ear. Everything was so flavourful. The Ayam Pelalah combines both coconut milk and chilli, and it was very spicy; just the way I like my food. I found the gravy from the Gulai Sapi a bit creamy, but it was very rich in spices. The must-have item out of all, though, is the Sayur Nangka, which lent a savoury flavour to the proceedings. Bu Nur Sah’s stall is open every day in Pasar Kopang, and from Monday to Saturday, it can be found in the eastern part of the market. On Sundays, she would move to the back of the market, so you might need to ask around in order to locate her.“Today, I’m going to take you to a place where you can try Nasi Montes”, says my driver in Lombok. It was only 12pm, yet he had already repeated the same sentence three times. I hadn’t the slightest clue what Nasi Montes is, but his power of persuasion somehow convinced me that I had to at least give it a try. His excitement level grew as he explained the history behind this mixed rice that originated from Lombok Tengah. According to him, Nasi Montes comes from Kampung Montes – hence the name – and it is the only place where we can obtain it. “There were actually two Nasi Montes sellers in Kampung Montes, but one has already passed away,” he remarks. His insistence stemmed from the possibility that the dish might no longer be produced, especially when there’s only one shop remaining that makes the dish. After a bumpy ride that took me around Lombok, I finally arrived at Jalan Raya Kopang. He parked the car right in front of Dr. Gede Bayu Marguna Putra Clinic and took me to Kampung Montes. There are no signs pointing to the village, and when I asked him how my readers could find the place, he nonchalantly told me to tell you folks to just ask the people here for directions. Brilliant. Ibu Saerah could just be the only person who makes Nasi Montes in the country. She inherited the recipe from her grandmother, and the Nasi Montes itself is served fresh from her well-maintained kitchen. I went and ordered a portion with ayam pelalah, abon sapi (beef floss), and vegetables. The USPs of this dish are its spicy flavour and the abon sapi. Since Ibu Saerah doesn’t really have a proper eatery, I had no choice but to have it to-go. The highlight of me sampling Nasi Montes was my tongue being burnt slowly by its spiciness, which left a tingling aftertaste. That concludes my Nasi Montes adventure, and I must say that it was very gratifying to have been able to get stuck into another hidden gem in the culinary world of Lombok.
By Jessicha Valentina
Kampung Montes, Lombok Timur
Open daily from 5pm-11pm