10 Delicious Typical Riau Food that You Must Try

10 Delicious Typical Riau Food that You Must Try

Nestled on the eastern coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, the province of Riau is renowned for its rich cultural heritage, vibrant traditions, and mouthwatering cuisine.

Drawing inspiration from the diverse culinary influences of Malay, Minangkabau, Chinese, and Javanese cultures, Riau’s traditional dishes are a symphony of flavors, textures, and aromas that tantalize the taste buds and delight the senses.

From spicy rendang to savory gulai and fragrant nasi lemak, Riau’s culinary offerings are as diverse as they are delicious, offering a culinary journey that celebrates the region’s unique heritage and gastronomic traditions. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore some of the must-try Typical Riau Culinary that are sure to leave you craving for more.

1. Rendang Riau

No culinary exploration of Riau would be complete without indulging in the region’s signature dish: Rendang Riau. A variation of the famous rendang found throughout Indonesia, Rendang Riau is distinguished by its rich, aromatic flavors and tender, melt-in-your-mouth texture.

Made from slow-cooked beef simmered in a fragrant blend of spices, coconut milk, and herbs, Rendang Riau boasts a complex flavor profile that balances sweetness, spiciness, and umami notes.

Served alongside steamed rice or lontong (compressed rice cakes), this iconic dish is a celebration of Riau’s culinary heritage and a must-try for any food enthusiast visiting the region.

2. Gulai Ikan Patin

Gulai Ikan Patin is another culinary gem that showcases the culinary prowess of Riau’s chefs. This fragrant fish curry features freshwater patin fish, prized for its tender flesh and delicate flavor, simmered in a rich, coconut-based sauce infused with aromatic spices and herbs.

The result is a dish that is both hearty and flavorful, with a creamy texture and a subtle hint of sweetness from the coconut milk. Served piping hot with steamed rice or lemang (sticky rice cooked in bamboo), Gulai Ikan Patin is a beloved comfort food in Riau and a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

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3. Nasi Lemak

Nasi Lemak is a beloved Malaysian-inspired dish that has found its way into the culinary repertoire of Riau. This fragrant rice dish is cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaves, giving it a rich, creamy texture and a subtle, aromatic flavor.

Served with an array of savory accompaniments such as fried chicken, hard-boiled eggs, sambal (spicy chili paste), and crispy anchovies, Nasi Lemak is a flavorful and satisfying meal that is enjoyed throughout the day, from breakfast to supper. Whether enjoyed as a quick snack or a hearty meal, Nasi Lemak is a quintessential taste of Riau’s culinary heritage.

4. Soto Pekanbaru

Soto Pekanbaru is a hearty and aromatic soup that is a favorite among locals in Riau. Made with a fragrant broth infused with spices such as lemongrass, galangal, and turmeric, Soto Pekanbaru is typically served with shredded chicken, vermicelli noodles, hard-boiled eggs, and an array of fresh herbs and condiments.

The result is a comforting and nourishing dish that warms the soul and invigorates the senses. Whether enjoyed as a light lunch or a hearty dinner, Soto Pekanbaru is a beloved staple of Riau’s culinary landscape and a must-try for anyone visiting the region.

5. Lontong Goreng

Lontong Goreng is a flavorful and satisfying dish that is a popular street food snack in Riau. This savory dish features compressed rice cakes (lontong) stir-fried with a medley of ingredients such as shrimp, chicken, tofu, vegetables, and eggs, seasoned with aromatic spices and sauces.

The result is a delicious and filling dish that is bursting with flavor and texture, perfect for satisfying hunger cravings on the go. Whether enjoyed as a quick bite or a leisurely meal, Lontong Goreng is a quintessential taste of Riau’s culinary heritage and a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

6. Teh Talua

Teh Talua is a unique and refreshing beverage that is a specialty of Riau. This traditional drink is made from a blend of black tea, egg yolks, and sweetened condensed milk, resulting in a creamy and frothy concoction that is both indulgent and invigorating.

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Teh Talua is often enjoyed as a refreshing pick-me-up on hot days or served as a soothing remedy for colds and sore throats. Whether sipped leisurely at a local cafe or enjoyed as a comforting treat at home, Teh Talua is a beloved beverage that embodies the warmth and hospitality of Riau’s culinary culture.

7. Pempek

Pempek, originating from Palembang, South Sumatra, has also found its way into the culinary scene of Riau, becoming a beloved dish among locals. These savory fish cakes are made from a mixture of ground fish, tapioca flour, and spices, then fried or boiled to perfection.

Served with a tangy, sweet and spicy vinegar-based sauce known as kuah cuko, pempek offers a delightful combination of textures and flavors that tantalize the taste buds. Whether you prefer the classic Kapal Selam (egg inside pempek) or the chewy Lenjer variant, pempek is a must-try dish that showcases the culinary diversity of Riau.

8. Otak-Otak

Otak-Otak is a popular snack that has made its mark in Riau’s culinary landscape. These savory fish cakes are made from a mixture of ground fish, coconut milk, and spices, then wrapped in banana leaves and grilled to perfection.

The result is a smoky, aromatic treat with a tender texture and a burst of flavors from the spices and herbs. Otak-Otak is often enjoyed as a quick snack or appetizer, either on its own or served with a side of sambal or peanut sauce for dipping.

Whether you’re exploring the bustling streets of Pekanbaru or relaxing by the riverside, be sure to indulge in this delicious and satisfying snack that captures the essence of Riau’s culinary heritage.

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9. Martabak Manis

Martabak Manis, also known as Terang Bulan or sweet pancake, is a beloved dessert that is enjoyed throughout Indonesia, including Riau. This indulgent treat features a thick, fluffy pancake base topped with a generous layer of sweet fillings such as chocolate, cheese, condensed milk, and peanuts.

Folded into a warm and gooey parcel, Martabak Manis offers a decadent indulgence that satisfies even the most discerning sweet tooth. Whether enjoyed as a late-night snack or a special treat during festive occasions, Martabak Manis is a beloved dessert that brings joy and delight to people of all ages in Riau.

10. Keripik Singkong

Keripik Singkong, or cassava chips, are a popular snack that is enjoyed throughout Indonesia, including Riau. These crispy, crunchy chips are made from thinly sliced cassava roots that are deep-fried until golden and crispy.

Seasoned with a blend of spices and seasonings, Keripik Singkong offers a satisfying combination of savory flavors and irresistible crunchiness that makes it hard to resist.

Whether enjoyed as a snack on its own or served alongside a meal as a crunchy accompaniment, Keripik Singkong is a delicious and addictive treat that is perfect for satisfying hunger cravings anytime, anywhere.


As we ended our culinary journey in Riau, it was evident that this vibrant region is a treasure trove of flavors, textures and aromas waiting to be discovered.

From the spice-rich Rendang Riau to the aroma of coconut-infused Gulai Ikan Patin curry, and the comforting warmth of Soto Pekanbaru, Acehnese Food offers a sensory feast that celebrates the region’s rich cultural heritage and gastronomic traditions.

Whether you explore the bustling markets, sample street food, or dine at an elegant restaurant, be sure to enjoy the delicious flavors of Riau and immerse yourself in the culinary delights of this enchanting region.