Nationally, Padang dishes are well known for its spicy food. Padang’s restaurants or “rumah makan” – literarily means an eating house – has the same system in serving their food, all dishes served or presented in small individual plates and steamed rice in a larger bowl. There will be no menu given but these dishes on small plates on your table. Usually, customers take what looks tasty to them and they pay only for the food they eat.
The most famous Padang dish is “rendang”, made of lamb, beef or goat cooked with coconut milk, chilli and various spices. Other well known food are “telor balado” – a deep fried hard boiled egg simmered in red chili and other spicies, “ikan panggang” – baked fish baked in coconut and chilli, “gulai merah kambing” (red mutton curry). Usually the locals eat without using spoon or fork. They prefer to eat with their bare hands. Restaurants or rumah makan will prepare a bowl of clean water to wash your hands, before and after eating. Smoking in rumah makan after eating is still a common practice too.
Most of rumah makan (RM) or restaurants in Padang serve glass of mineral water or tea for free. Other drinks, such as orange juice, sweet ice tea, or other fruit juice are also available in most RM or restaurants here.
In Padang, other than good-standard local restaurants, you will also find many local-style small street side restaurants, called Warung – a bigger warung sometimes called a rumah makan. These are places where you will find the real prices of food for Padang or even the rest of Indonesia. They are very affordable to most Indonesians. The difference between warungs and rumah makans is that warungs are never (or rarely) built on a permanent place, whereas rumah makans are built on a permanent basis. However warung/RM cleanliness or hygiene really varies. Unless you are so used to these kinds of environments, you should carefully judge cleanliness before eating somewhere.