If one day the officials of The Guiness Book of World Record have time to visit Indonesia, I think they will announced that the world most largest franchise restaurant in the world is Rumah Makan Padang (simply means "Padang Restaurant"). It is true and I can bet on it. According to Ikatan Warung Padang Indonesia (The Indonesia Padang's Restaurant Organization, or simply called IWAPIN), there are about 20,000 Padang restaurant establishment, and the figure is in Jakarta only. There are hundreds of city in Indonesia. Try to count them all.....
Rumah Makan Padang is one of the most well-known restaurant in Indonesia. In every street of every city in Indonesia, you can easily find it. In fact, in every five to six house that you passed, there will be at least one Rumah Makan Padang. So you can imagine, how many of them in all city of Indonesia.
So what is the specialty of Rumah Makan Padang? Why it is so famous in Indonesia?
THE HISTORY OF RUMAH MAKAN PADANG
Padang is the capital city of West Sumatera, with an area about 694.96 square kilometers,with population more than 833,000 people. Besides its beauty scenery, Padang has been well-known for its cuisine which commonly called as Padang cuisine or Minangkabau cuisine (Minangkabau is the other name for Padang). In Indonesia dialect, it's called Masakan Padang or Masakan Minang (Minang's Cuisine).
Masakan Padang is famous for its rich taste of succulent coconut milk and spicy chili, similar with Middle Eastern or India dishes.
In the past (even until today), the city of Padang is not as good as today. A lot of unemployed people from Padang were go to other city to find a better job outside their city and island. That's why they were spreading all around Indonesia city and island. When they arrived in the city, most of them can't eat the cuisine in that place because it is not suitable for them (especially in Java, because most of its cuisine were sweet and less spicy). Eventually, most Padang's male are capable to do the cooking, so they cook the meal for themselves. Somehow, their cooking skill and food admired native. This result is giving idea for Padang's people to open restaurant that sell their origin food in their new place. And since then, Rumah Makan Padang is open widely in every city of Indonesia.
THE MENU OF RUMAH MAKAN PADANG
In the present, there are dozens of menu in Rumah Makan Padang that can be chosen. Most of them are cook using coconut milk and spicy chili. Every Padang Restaurant served different variant and different taste of meals, depend of their specialty. Despite the variant meals of each restaurant, there are standard and regular menus that always available in every Padang restaurant :
1. Rendang :
It's made from beef (sometimes chicken, mutton, water buffalo, or duck), slowly cooked in coconut milk, spices, toasted coconut paste, and spices (ginger, galangal, turmeric leaf, lemon grass, and chillies) for several hours until the liquid almost gone.
2. Nangka / Nangko :
Literally, Nangka means "jackfruit". Usually it is cooked with the mixture of coconut milk, lemon grass, turmeric, curry powder, and chillies. In some place, they are adding cabbage, long bean, and french bean to make the taste different. Nangka is served together with its thin sauce.
3. Sate Padang :
Skewered meats that served with yellow (mixture of turmeric, ginger, garlic, coriander, galangal root, cumin, curry powder ad salt) and spicy sauce. In some restaurant, they are using goat meat, and some others using cow meat.
4. Gulai :
It is curry soup that usually made with several combinations, such as liver (called Gulai Hati or Liver Curry), cow brain (Gulai Otak / Cow Brain Curry), cow bone marrow (Gulai Sumsum / Cow Bone Marrow Curry), cow internals organs (Gulai Cincang / Cow Internal Organs Curry), and others.
5. Sambal :
Means Chili. There are two kinds of chili that always served in every Restaurant Padang : Sambal Balado (sliced red chili) and Sambal Lado / Sambal Ijo (sliced green chili). Sambal Balado usually very spicy, and Sambal Ijo usually mild spicy and tastier. To make the chili taste different, some restaurants add anchovy and shallot in the green chili.
HOW TO EAT IN RUMAH MAKAN PADANG?
You'll be surprise to find out that eating in Rumah Makan Padang is very different comparing with other restaurant. All dishes are displaying in the window of the restaurant. While you are planning to dine-in, there are two ways you can do to ordering the food :
1. Direct choose :
You just stand near the cuisines, then choose whatever you like. The waiter will get and prepare it to you in seconds.
2. Ala carte :
Confused and can't decide what you prefer to eat? Just sit at any empty table in the restaurant. In less that a minute, a waiter will immediately serves the dishes directly to your table and fill it with dozens of their dishes such as rendang, curried fish, chili eggplant, curried beef liver, curry nangko, foot tendons, fried chicken, and sambal. While the waiter bring the dishes, you will see one of interesting act : All dishes - that place on each small bowl - were put and fill his both hands, then place all of the bowls on your table without spoil any of each meal. When you eat, choose and take whatever you like. The payment will be counted based on what you eat.
While you are having dine-in at Padang Restaurant, the waiter usually serve a bowl of tap water (sometimes with a slice of lime, to give a fresh scent). It's called "Kobokan", that used to wash your hand before eat. So, don't drink it....!!!
There are two ways to enjoy the dishes : eat with bare hands or with spoon and fork. Native in Indonesia mostly prefer to eat with bare hands.
WHY RUMAH MAKAN PADANG BECOME SO FAMOUS ?
First, the choose of cuisines. Padang Restaurant have hundreds of cuisines that can be chosen. Each restaurant also provide different of taste and variant, which make the selection even bigger and wider.
Second is the portion. Padang cuisine have also been known for its large portion of rice. Whenever we ordered for take-away, the waiter will prepare a pack of rice that enough for 2 people. So, for rice-lover, Padang cuisine can guaranteed your stomach blow.
And the last reason is the price. Although some famous Padang's restaurant (such as Sederhana, Salero Bagindo, Pagi Sore, Simpang Raya, Sari Ratu, and Sari Minang) have quiet expensive price for its meals, but in small Padang restaurant, the price is affordable. The cheapest menu (rice with curry egg and chili) will cost not more than Rp 7,000 / pack (approx US$ 0.77). With portion that enough for two people, the price is quiet reasonable.