Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Culinary Trip To Buton Island

Have you ever been to Buton Island? Located off the southern peninsula of Southeast Sulawesi and just a hop from the Wakatobi islands, Buton Island is famous for its asphalt production. I haven't been there, but last Sunday I got a chance to sample some dishes from the island during this month's Underground Secret Dining (USD) event. 

USD is a regular event for food lovers in Jakarta. Each month, they introduce the participants to the unique cuisines in Indonesia's far-flung region. I learned about USD from this article. I've been wanting to join it, but could make it only this month.

Information on how to participate is available in the website ( and you simply follow the instruction, which is in English, so expatriates can participate too. After we transfer the money, they will notify the location of the event two days before the D-Day.

Back to this month's event. The venue was in Gedung Sangkrini, alhamdulillah yah, it's really something *Syahrini mode on*. The location changes every month, so getting to the location is part of the fun. Not. I got lost because apparently there is another house having the same address (yes, this happens in Jakarta) so I arrived 30 minutes late. I still got the foods, though. And it was really a fun gathering.

The venue. Don't ever mention Jl. Hang Tuah Raya No. 10 to the taxi drivers/bajaj drivers/ojek as they probably drop you in another house having the same address. Just mention Sangkrini building or Bulungan swimming pool (which is located next to it)

 A guide to eating

Instead of rice as the carbohydrate source, Buton cuisine has kapusu nussu (corn boiled in coconut milk) and kasuami (grated and then steamed cassava). It felt odd to eat without rice, but I kinda like the texture of kasuami. 
Chicken (left) and Vegetable salad (right)

Calamari soup and Grilled fish, or whatever remains of those. Sorry I didn't have a chance to take pictures of the foods as the people milled around them when the foods were served. They're delicious!

 Steamed papaya and pumpkin

 Kambewe (grated corn and coconut cake). I also like this!

Kambana mantumu (means the flower of curcuma, I don't know why they call it like that. Any Butonese can explain that here?) looks like Makassar's Pallu Butung. The difference is Kambana mantumu uses yam instead of banana. It's yummy (no pun intended :)).

During the event, I met with the persons behind the dishes: Ibu Nasrah and her daughters. Ibu Nasrah has been living in Java since she was married to a Javanese man. She said that she still came home to Buton island every once in a while. "To get to Buton island, you have to fly to Makassar, South Sulawesi and then continue to Baubau in Buton island," she said. Hmm, sounds like a long flight.

I brought home some of the foods. M was thrilled to eat the Buton dishes without having to fly to the island. D was less enthusiastic. "I ate this kind of food during my childhood. I can even cook cassava into 10 kinds of dishes," he said.
I like the idea of bringing Indonesian native foods to younger generation. It's great to know that we have many carbohydrate sources beside rice. I might join the event next month if my schedule permit.

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