Malang: Warung Orem-orem

“My first bite gave off a combination of both sweet and savoury flavours, which pleased my taste buds no end.

An ex-colleague of mine once wrote an article focussing on tempe goreng. Titled “Flawed Perfection”, it is a 700-word essay detailing his love for tempe, which he describes as “the best low-cost food of all time.” In it, he also divulges how he has sampled the many variations of tempe – from the fried tempe one would find in a warung to a tempe burger at a five-star hotel. However, if I were a betting woman, I would bet my bottom dollar that he has yet to have a go at Orem-Orem (rice cake and tempe served in coconut milk), which could only be found in Malang.

I stumbled upon the dish by accident. During a hunt for a Tahu Telur seller in the second largest city in East Java, a miscommunication with my driver resulted in him bringing me to a place called Warung Orem-Orem on Jalan Gatot Subroto. Unfamiliarity with the name of the dish only heightened my curiosity even further, so I stepped out of the car and instead of scolding my chauffeur, I decided to give Orem-Orem a go.

Pak H.M. Syahri – the head honcho of the shop – has been selling Orem-Orem for more than 30 years now, and it seems that everybody in Malang knows the man. His small shop would be packed with his most loyal of patrons day in, day out, and the sight of a full house encouraged me to try out his Orem-Orem.

Initially, the meat lover in me was slightly disappointed with the fact that it only consisted of tempe and rice cake – there’s no trace of meat at all – while the yellow-coloured gravy indicated that its main ingredients were coconut milk and turmeric. Yet my first bite gave off a combination of both sweet and savoury flavours, which pleased my taste buds no end. My friend would definitely be on cloud nine if he ever tasted it, especially when it is priced at only Rp.6,000 and quite sizable in portion.

Jl. Gatot Subroto,
Malang, East Java
Open daily from 9.30am-4pm
Rp.6,000/US$0.50 per portion

Started her career as a food writer in 2012, Jessicha Valentina is the online editor of Good Indonesian Food. Jessicha has loved Sayur Asem since she was a wee kid and spends her free time trying to cook it.


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