Palembang Dishes Like Never Before

Signatures Restaurant at Hotel Indonesia Kempinski honors the culture and food of Palembang by recreating some of the city’s most iconic dishes.

AS A TRIBUTE to the 2018 Asian Games that is being hosted in Indonesia by two cities – Jakarta and Palembang, Hotel Indonesia Kempinski  sent Chef de Cuisine Prasetyo Widodo on a journey to Palembang to uncover the secret of iconic Palembang dishes straight from homes that have been making them for generations. The resulting dishes are these traditional Palembang delicacies made available especially for the duration of the big sporting event at Signatures Restaurant.

Regarding his recent journey, Chef Widodo explained, “I gained valuable experience learning from ibu-ibu (housewifes) home cooks that are still using recipes that have been in their family for generations, untarnished by any outside fusion recipes or modern culinary influences. These were authentic Palembang dishes and cooking techniques. Overall, the chemistry we shared was excellent, and we expect a very good cooperation going forward.”


Palembang cuisine is synonymous with pempek, a soft-textured, chewy comfort snack with cuko, a spicy and sour broth. While pempek is most commonly enjoyed as snack, in Palembang it is a serious food with many different variations of cuko. “The cuko is what makes every pempek different. Some are very spicy, while some are more to the sour, acidic side. Some people also make them a bit sweet,” explained Chef Widodo. For this food promotion, Chef Widodo has prepared several different kinds of pempek: ball-shaped, gabus (snakehead) pempek, lenjer or sausage-shaped pempek, and lenggang, which is an omelette with a mixture of sliced pempek. “The best fish to use is belida fish, which unfortunately, we don’t get over here. Even in Palembang, this particular breed is hard to cultivate due to their cannibalistic nature. Our pempek uses a mixture of belida and mackerel.”


Pindang Patin

A sour and spicy dish visually recognizable thanks to the large silver catfish head, the Pindang Patin is laden with spices and chili, which makes the broth distinctively acidic. The meat of the fish is also very tender due to the long boiling process, which also helps the seasoning and spices to be fully absorbed, making for a juicy, tender, and spicy sensation with each bite.



One of the region’s favorite, fish-based soups served with cloud ear mushroom and bengkoang (yam bean). The texture and ingredients are similar to that of the pempek, except Tekwan serves the fish balled up small. In addition, soup also comes with traditional soft misoa noodles and a sprig of onion leaves and celery. Thanks to an exotic ingredient uncommonly used in cooking, the yam bean, Tekwan’s flavorful broth offers a very pleasant warmth that is both fresh and healthy.



Hotel Indonesia Kempinski Jakarta

Jalan M.H. Thamrin No. 1

Jakarta 10310

T: +62 21 2358 3800

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Facebook: @KempinskiJKT

Written by Refa Koetin Photographs by Riman Saputra August 16, 2018.