The restaurants in Aceh, and throughout many parts of Sumatra, provide every diner with a plate of rice and then fill the table with a large assortment of delicacies each on its own small plate, stacked on the table in pyramids. You eat only what you want, and pay only for what you eat. A table could come with 25 different offerings! The Acehnese breakfast staple is nasi gurih, rice cooked in coconut milk, sold in coffee shops everywhere.
Make a stop at a warung for coffee and some snacks. Try the popular fried buffalo skins and fermented cassava wrapped in banana leaves!
Shopping in Aceh
offers all the basic items, typically expected of an Indonesian city. Read our Aceh Restaurant Guide
below to find the best places to eat at, as well as some local specialities.
Aceh Food & Cuisine Guide
Try the many varieties of smoked, marinated, curried, and spiced fish, curried goat hearts, giant grilled shrimp, and spicy miniature snails in oil, which are a local favourite. Other specialty dishes in Aceh include mie kepiting, an Acehnese specialty of noodles with crab. For the sweet-tooths, don't despair, during all meals, you will be plied with copious sweets made of rice, coconut, bananas, rambutan, mangosteen, and snake-skin fruit.
Warung kopi (coffee shop)
The well known area in Banda Aceh to sip the famous strong black Robusta coffee of Aceh is Ulee Kareng village. Stop by at one of typical coffee shop along Teuku Iskandar street (try the busy Jasa Ayah Solong) and experience not only the strong coffee, but also the hectic ambience of people chatting and serving. For more expensive coffee in air-conditioned room accompanied by cheese cake or the like, try Banda Aceh's Caswell's in Peunayong which is a sister of its Bali and Jakarta coffee shops.
Spicy Acehnese food has had a strong influence from India and can be distinguished from the famous Padang dishes as the latter use much more coconut milk in their preparation. 'Ayam tangkap' chicken dish is a must when you dine at Acehnese restaurants such as Aceh Rayeuk in Lueng Bata, Banda Aceh. Acehnese spicy noodles (crab noodle deliciously cooked at Mie Razali, Peunayong) is also worth trying.
Padang Food in Aceh
Across Indonesia, you can find the ready-to-eat curried dishes in restaurants dubbed 'Restoran / rumah makan Padang,' and Aceh is no exception. There is always a vast array of curried or spiced food to choose from: chicken, beef, squid, prawn, fish, eggs, veggies - even the organs such as cow brain or 'gulai otak' (often the signature dish of certain Padang restaurants). While in Banda Aceh try Rumah Makan Bundo or the much smaller Ragil just off the grand Mosque.
Chinese / Oriental Food in Aceh
There are a few restaurants in Banda Aceh, which typically have the word 'kitchen'
in their names, and they invariably offer chinese food. Some examples are the Imperial Kitchen
and Marina Kitchen
. The food here is freshly cooked and selection usually includes stir-fry veggies, black-pepper beef, steam fish, sweet and sour prawn, etc.
Grilled Seafood at Simpang Mesra
Been to Bali and dined at Jimbaran beach? Well, the concept is similar but Simpang Mesra is more laid back and situated on the river bank rather than a beach. Nonetheless, the prawns here are guaranteed to be tastier and offer great value for money. The fresh grilled fish is also recommended. For a healthy natural drink, ask for tender coconut in the shell.
Italian Food in Aceh
Pace Bene at the back of Jl. Sri Ratu Safiatuddin serves good value Italian food with relaxed, romantic ambience. Famous among expatriates in Aceh.
Pulau Weh Restaurant Guide
On Gapang beach, there are at least four restaurants serving simple food of fried rice, fried noodles, sandwiches and pancakes. The restaurants open early in the morning till late in the evening. The tables are set on the beach facing the calm water and Sabang on the other tip of Pulau Weh. Don’t be surprised if locals usually take the freedom to join your table and start up a conversation. Just relax and enjoy your meal. The restaurant in the centre of Gapang beach is Zero Café. Breakfast here costs Rp. 25,000 - 40,000. Their fruit salad and sandwiches are worth trying.
Perdagangan Street in Sabang
Sabang offers plenty of small restaurants offering various kinds of menu from the Acehnese gulai kambing, Sumatran dishes, to seafood and Chinese food. Most of the restaurants are on Jalan Perdagangan. For coffee and light meals, try Aneka Ria, which serves grilled toasts with home-made jams and steamy black coffee. The restaurant opens from early morning to about 9pm. You can also order tasty fried rice or noodles from a seller in front of the restaurant.
Further north-west from Gapang beach, Iboih offers more a secluded corner, facing the famous Rubiah Island. On Iboih beach, there are a few small restaurants serving standard nasi campur (a plate of rice and a few side dishes), fried rice and noodles. Try Chill Out Lounge or Warung Hanum food stall for simpler dishes.