Palembang’s cuisine is synonymous with Pempek (fishcake with vinegar sauce). Thus it came as no surprise when my itinerary for my Palembang trip was mostly filled with names of Pempek shops. After checking in at the hotel, I fired up Google Maps on my smartphone to locate Pempek Dempo 310–a joint that is known for serving the best Pempek in town. It turned out that it was merely a stone’s throw away from where I was staying. Just my luck.
A five-minute walk was all it took to get me there. Housed in a regular shop lot that could fit about 40 people, it was 9am and there were several customers inside who were tucking in to some Pempek. After settling myself down at one of the tables there, I ordered a plate of my favourite Pempek: Pempek Kapal Selam (submarine-shaped fried fishcake).
It looks pretty much like any Pempek Kapal Selam and consists of the fishcakes, some prawn floss, and a few cucumber cubes. The fishcake was flavourful and chewy in texture, with no fishy stench emanating from the dough. Overall, it tasted similar to those that I’ve sampled before, with the vinegar sauce giving off a perfect combination of sweet and spicy.
As I made my payment at the counter, I engaged in a spot of conversation with its owner. He informed that his delicacy’s advantage over its counterparts lies on its use of ikan belida – a kind of knifefish that inhabits the Musi River. Its rarity, however, affects the shop’s operational hours. In order to maintain its quality, the shop has to cease operations whenever supplies of the fish hits zero. Therefore it’s highly advisable that you call before visiting Pempek Dempo 310.
Jl. Lingkar I Dempo Luar No. 310,
T: 0711 311 235
Open daily from 8am-4pm
Rp.40,000/US$3 per person