[Penang] Indonesian-Batak dining choices at Kompleks Sri Aman Food Court

The Bataks are a collection of hill tribes that live in the highlands of Northern Sumatera, Indonesia, stretching from Lake Toba to the bustling metropolis of Medan on the eastern coast of Sumatera. Before their subjugation by the Dutch, the Bataks have an unenviable reputation as fierce warrior-cannibals. But with Dutch colonial rule, majority of Bataks converted to Christianity, mainly Lutherans as a result of the work of German missionaries, giving up their cannibal practices.

Batak cuisine today is known for their inclusion of pork, in contrast to mainly-Muslim Indonesia, and especially the orthodox Muslim Achehnese, where consumption of pork in forbidden.

Yesterday evening, we explored the pork-rich Indonesian Batak dining options at Kompleks Sri Aman food court, located strategically in Paya Terubong, home to most of the Sumateran-Indonesian diaspora who came to work in Penang’s industrial estates as migrant workers.

Our dinner spread this evening:
:small_orange_diamond: π™Žπ™–π™ π™¨π™–π™£π™œ - an ethnic Batak dish, usually cooked using pork, dog-meat or buffalo. The version here used pork belly, with a rich gravy redolent of citrusy kafir lime leaf, bay leaf, coriander, lemongrass, galangal, fresh chilis, fresh turmeric, shallots, garlic and andaliman seeds.

:small_orange_diamond: 𝙇𝙀𝙒𝙀𝙠-𝙑𝙀𝙒𝙀𝙠 - pork, cooked with the same spices as for saksang, but with the addition of pig’s blood for the gravy.

:small_orange_diamond: π˜½π™–π™—π™ž π™œπ™šπ™₯π™§π™šπ™  - crisp-fried pork belly, served with an ultra-spicy red chili dip.

:small_orange_diamond: π˜½π™–π™—π™ž 𝙩𝙖π™ͺπ™˜π™π™€ - pork belly cooked with fermented bean paste, and π˜½π™–π™—π™ž π™–π™¨π™šπ™’ π™₯π™šπ™™π™–π™¨ - pork belly cooked with chilis and tamarind.

:small_orange_diamond: π™‡π™€π™£π™©π™€π™£π™œ - compressed rice cakes in a lightly-spiced, coconut milk-enriched soup.

There was also an interesting lone Punjabi stall, stuck right in middle of the clutch of Batak eateries. We ordered some very good potato-filled samosas, and a platter of pani puri from Jatinder Singh, manning the stall. Best-tasting food items we tasted this evening!

I’d probably return here to explore the local Penang hawker stalls which take up half of the food court (the other half which we were at yesterday seemed to have been given over to the Indonesian/Batak food stalls).

Kompleks Sri Aman Food Court
10, Persiaran Paya Terubong 2, Taman Sri Aman, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang, Malaysia
Operating hours: 7am till late-evening (individual stalls may have varying operating times)


Very cool! I spent some time at Lake Toba during the troubles of 1998. The people were phenomenally welcoming! I never found a really good rumah makan for Batak food. I spent nearly a month on Samosir Island and the food back then was fairly basic. One rumah makan had something that looked like your saksang but it was served cold over rice w a boiled egg on the side. It had potential but it was not done very well.
The one thing that really stood out for me was the Batak architecture, those wooden homes are not just huge, they are beautiful works of art in their own right! I was scoping on one and the owner came down the stairs in the center of it and asked if i wanted to see it.
The wood was made up of huge teak (?) planks nearly a yard wide and maybe 4” thick. I think he said his grandfather had built the house in the 1920’s or 1930’s. It was built like a gargantuan Conestoga wagon but with a tall, steeply pitched wooden roof! The link below is not to the one i saw but it is very similar.


That was one thing we could not quite reconcile with our own expectations - even the Batak stalls here all served their food stone cold! It’s likely to be an acceptable practice in their food culture.

Yes, those were amazing.