Saung Pengkolan, Sundanese cuisine in spectacular views

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Saung Pengkolan, Sundanese cuisine in spectacular views
Photos: Caecilia Linggarjati

IO – Eating out at a purported “homemade cooking” restaurant tastes a great deal better when shared with your closest kin or friends. “Saung
Pengkolan”, with its breathtaking highland scenery (in accord with Pengkolan, meaning “curving”) is located along the turn of a road in the mountainous area of Lembang, Bandung.

With the COVID-19 rate declining and community restrictions being relaxed, Bandung is a most auspiciously-awaited holiday destination, and one of the most admired locales is Lembang, offering a wide range of
culinary selections and areas to relax and enjoy yourself.

Getting to Lembang has never been easy, since the traffic is always congested, but a traffc jam never puts an end to our foodie journey!

Saung Pengkolan, Sundanese cuisine in spectacular views

We parked our car just as our tummies yearned for warm tea and freshly cooked Sundanese foods. Saung Pengkolan, a bamboo-built restaurant with a breezy open-air atmosphere, is worth the trip.

The rain was pouring heavily; we had to run towards the bamboo chalet and choose the best-sited seats for the hilly vista – out of sight of many tables. Seated guests wait patiently to sate their appetites.

You can either sit on chairs at a dining table or snuggle in the warm cubicles of lesehan, a small on-foor seating arrangement with a low table and mat. Since the lesehan spots with outdoor views were mostly taken, and some of us found lesehan challenging, we opted for the traditional dining table.

The Sundanese atmosphere, with bamboo decorated walls and ceilings, the wooden- and bamboo- crafted tables and chairs, and the trickling sound of water from the fish pond filled the air.

Fingerbowls are well provided for guests to wash their hands before the feast. After washing, I took a brief walk to the corners of the restaurants and found souvenirs and local snack food stalls. These local snacks brought back my childhood memories, as I was born and raised in Bandung. My choice went to the dried corn leaf-wrapped dodol, a steamed glutinous mix of rice four and brown sugar in a finger-sized cake. We had a few nibbles of the dodol while we were awaiting the food to come.

Saung Pengkolan, Sundanese cuisine in spectacular views

Aside from chicken menus, the restaurant offers a selection of freshwater fish and seafood recipes, including crispy fried Gurami, crispy fried Calamary, soups and complementary foods: fried tofu and tempeh, fried salted fish, fried or grilled petai—peculiarly smell bitter beans—, and of course Sundanese sambal (traditional chili sauce).

Assorted drinks are available to quench your thirst; among them are bajigur—a hot and sweet Sundanese beverage made of coconut milk, palm sugar, ginger and a pinch of salt— hot teas and various fruit juices. I obviously picked bajigur, which is rarely found in Jakarta. The waiter took our order, and the drinks arrived not long after we ordered. The bajigur tasted different from what I had in mind; the coconut milk was less savory and simply dominantly sweet.

The signature dish here is Nasi Timbel, a plate of banana leafwrapped of rice, fried chicken, a selection of fried tofu and tempeh with a bowl of hot sayur asem—sour and sweet vegetable soup— as a side dish and of course, sambal. Hot Sundanese cookery and a rainy afternoon are just a perfect match.

After the fulflling afternoon supper, and once the rain had stopped, we were ready for our journey to our next adventurous destination around Lembang, Bandung. Do you care to follow? (cl)