What is a warung

Warung (wah-roong) : Cafe, restaurant bar and social club all under one (often ramshackle) roof. Constructed out of anything and everything and usually featuring the same colour scheme as that of the nearest project. If two Warungs open up next door to each other with a gap in between, someone will nail a sheet of roofing in place and open a third establishment. No matter what the menu on the wall says the only food they ever serve is Nasi or Mie Goreng (fried rice or noodles)

Hot tea is served in glasses so you can measure how much sugar has been added, minimum acceptable is three centimeters. Coffee is black and strong, never, ever, ever drain the glass unless you want to be spitting grounds, sand and grit for the next hour.

Beer is often available with loose interpretations of the term ‘cold’ and whilst a frosted bottle is an alien concept, putting huge lumps of ice in beer is perfectly acceptable, learning to love heavily watered lager is not an easily acquired skill.

No matter how basic the premises, there will be a large colour TV in every Warung, these are special units and arrive direct from the factory with only two pre-set volume levels ‘maximum’ and ‘distortion’

Smoking in Warungs is compulsory, non-smokers are considered limp wristed and downright unpatriotic. Local cigarettes are strong, smelly and unfiltered, it takes a real man to cough in the face of lung cancer!

A word on the local beer and Indonesian drinking habits. Bir Bintang is brewed in West Java and is quite a decent drink when served properly i.e. Ice cold. The alcohol content is labeled at 4.8% which is on a par with most imported ales but far cheaper. The only downside being, Formaldehyde is used as both a preservative and to add a ‘kick’ it leaves a yucky phlegmy ‘morning after’ taste, prolonged imbibing of the product leaves the drinker with a yellow, furry tongue, often giving the casual observer the impression the drinker may have recently eaten a teddy bear.

Guinness (Gwissniss) is freely available in one of its many reincarnations and is used as the basis of many tonics and pick-me-ups, as of course it is in many parts of the world.

Sample : Madura Viagra

1 Can Guiness

2 Raw eggs

1 Can Red Bull (Kretendaeng)

Mix and top off with Sprite

Never actually tried it but it sounds like it could be a half decent hangover cure…..if it stays down.


Incidentally, Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation on the planet and therefore you might expect a draconian attitude to alcohol, far from it and many a ‘Good Muslim’ enjoys a moderate tipple, and many a ‘Moderate Muslim’ enjoys a good tipple. There are of course the religious fanatics who can be seen on TV protesting and burning flags at every opportunity, these eejits number a few thousand out of a Peaceful Islamic Nation of two hundred million, go figure the percentages.

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