Semarang, my Indonesian São Paulo

After living in Brazil, I held South America’s largest city-São Paulo as my culinary safe haven. One of my favorite restaurants in South America happens to be Dominus Optimo Maximo located in Rua Barão de Capanema. Since food is an essential part of my life, I yearned to find my Indonesian version of São Paulo. Venturing out of Jogjakarta to Lombok, Bali, and Sulawesi, I can happily say I accomplished my mission without every setting foot on another island outside of Java. Nestled about two to three hours away from Jogjakarta in the northern area of Java is the decadent culinary hot spot of Semarang. Semarang is a city like no other. Known as one of the most industrialized cities which hosts one of the largest expat and Chinese communities as well as the mecca for the real estate industry in all of Indonesia, Semarang is home to some of the best pasta, seafood, cappuccinos, and frozen ice cream drinks. If you are a spaguetti, fettucine, or pasta fanatic, welcome to your heart’s delight.

A panoramic view of Semarang from Pisa Cafe & Resto

At Pisa Cafe & Resto you can order an amazing Fettucine Alfredo for about 40,000 rupiah (4 dollars) or my tantalizing favorite the Fettucine al Salmone (Pisa’s famous Salmon Fettucine). Not only does this venue have a wide array of Italian and Steak dishes but it also has one of the most spectacular day and night panoramic views of Semarang from its terrace.

Location: Jalan Diponegoro No. 22A/ telephone: 024 8419871

Fettuccine al Salmone

If pasta is not your cup of tea you can always enjoy amazing seafood at Gama Candi Resto. This yellow and red colored brick restaurant, decorated by fish and frog statues, exudes coziness and serenity. Hyperfluent’s recommendations include the Cumi Goreng Mentega (Fried buttered squid), the Ons-Gurami Bakar (its main freshwater fish) served in a sweet-sour sauce, the Bago Super Bakar Madu (grilled king prawns glazed with honey) and Ca Kagung (coloured greens).

Location: Jalan Sultan Agung No. 105/ telephone: 024 8501616

Bago Super Bakar Madu

If what your are craving is not food but rather an iced cold mocha or cappuccino my favorite Café is I Cos Café. Your chocolate taste buds can delight in their ChocoChip Freeze or their Iced Caramel Cappuccino. Do not forget to try their Hazelnut Frappe, another one of their delightful libations.

Location: Jalan Ngesrep TimurV- 58B/ telephone: 024 7460308

Hazelnut Frappe

Hyperfluent’s roads less traveled include:

* Visiting the Lama Kota or “Old Dutch town”,

* The “One thousand doors” office known as Lawang Sewu, the principal managing office of the Railway system in Semarang during Dutch colonization. Materials to build this office, including tile and bathroom stalls are originally from England, Holland, and parts of Italy. This office eventually became a station warehouse for the city of Semarang.

* Paragon City Mall,

* The Sam Poo Kong or Gedung Batu Temple  (home to one of the largest Chinese temples)


* Karaoke Keluarga or “Family Fun Karaoke”,

* A midday stroll by Polder or the pond in Lama Kota,

Marba what once used to be a famous gallery in Lama Kota.

* Gereja Blenduk, the oldest Protestant Church in the province of Java,

* and a must visit to Semarang’s “China Town” during the weekend. Every weekend “Pecinan Semarang” as it is commonly referred to has an open air “all you can eat fair”, ranging from traditional Indonesian food to Chinese cuisine. Due to the fact that Semarang tends to be hotter than Jogjakarta during the “musim hujan” or raining season, its perfect to bask in the night air breeze of China Town. If you do happen to stop by make sure you try the curliest and longest potato fries I have ever seen, the Zupa Chicken Mushroom soup, the banana pancakes, and the Indo Waffles. I promise you will not be disappointed. Last but not least, stroll down the main street and delight in finding Chinese old ladies and men singing Chinese ballads-karaoke style and the prettiest souvenirs. Hyperfluent’s favorites: the silver hand back scratchers and the jade necklaces and bracelets.

Pecinan Semarang at night

Curly potato fries



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