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Food at Murex resorts

The Best Manado Food for First Time Travelers

Manado is renowned throughout the Indonesian Archipelago for its hot and spicy cuisine, which for first-time travelers to the region might sound a little daunting. However, there is more to Manadonese cuisine than spices and heat. Food in Manado plays an important part in the culture and is a way of bringing people together – no gathering in Manado would be complete without a good supply of traditional local dishes.

Contrary to common beliefs, Manadonese food does not have to be challenging and there are a good number of Manadonese people that are not fans of fiery food either. In this Blog, we take a look at the origins of Manadonese food, its role in society, and some of the traditional dishes you can expect to find when making your first trip to Manado.

Introducing Food in Manado and North Sulawesi

Manado cuisine is a melting pot of dishes with some dating back to Dutch times combined with regional and Indonesian national classics. Let’s take a look at some of the dishes and condiments that are renown throughout this region…


A word about Sambals – not all dishes are spicy, in fact, many Manadonese dishes contain little heat at all. The spice is added through condiments, the main one being sambal – or chili sauce. There are literally hundreds of different types of sambals from those that incorporate raw ingredients such as sambal dabu-dabu to sambals that incorporate other flavors (fish paste, fish sauce, or garlic etc) and are then fried to create a spicy paste.


Each type of sambal varies in heat according to the ratio of chili (and type of chili) to other ingredients. Try a little of the sambal on its own before adding it to your plate! If you do not like spicy food, lay off the sambal and let your server know that you do not want spicy. All dishes can be made with more, less or no heat.

Traditional Manadonese Dishes

Here are some of our favorite classic dishes you might find in Manado during your stay in North Sulawesi…

1. Tinu’tuan (or Bubur Manado)

Tinutuan, traditional Manado porridge

Tinu’tuan is a traditional Manado porridge. Known as “Bubur Manado”, it has a base of rice porridge mixed with slices of pumpkin, sweet potatoes, sweetcorn and green vegetables including morning glory, spinach, basil leaves, lemongrass slices, and watercress. This is a wholesome vegetarian dish suitable for all – a great way to start the day!

2. Babi Putar

Babi Putar, roast suckling pig - Murex resort

More commonly known in the Western world as roast suckling pig, babi putar is a special occasion dish served at Christmas, Easter and special occasions in North Sulawesi. The whole pig is slow-roasted and served with a selection of vegetables, rice and sambals.

3. Ayam Isi di Buluh

Ayam Isi Di Buluh, chicken dish cooked inside bamboo tubes

Ayam isi di buluh is a fragrant chicken dish cooked inside bamboo tubes. It is a Manadonese classic with buluh meaning bamboo in Manadonese. Instead of cooking the chicken in a pot, the chicken and herbs are packed inside a tube of bamboo and then cooked slowly in an open fire. This dish incorporates a variety of aromats including lime juice and zest, chilis, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, shallots, kaffir lime leaves, and lemongrass.

4. Garo Bunga Pepaya (Garo Papaya Flower)

Although the Manadonese are best known for eating meat and fish, there are also some beautiful vegetable dishes to be experienced too.


Garo means mixed or stirred, and papaya flowers are the flower buds from the papaya plant. There are variant recipes of this dish and it is usually served with smoked skipjack tuna – Cakalang Fufu (see below)…

5. Cakalang Fufu: Tuna (smoked)

If you take a tour through Manado City you will see butterflied smoked fish on the market stalls – it’s bright orange and hard to miss. It is served in small portions alongside rice, seasonal vegetables, and – of course, sambal.


This is a historic dish, dating back to when the Dutch were present in Manado and it was a main fishing port. Smoking the fish was a means of preserving it prior to refrigerators being available.

6. Sate (pronounced Satay)

Sate or sataySate is widely known across the Indonesian archipelago. These are skewers of grilled meat served with a peanut sauce for dipping. Here in Manado, you can find sate made from beef, goat, pork (the most famous) and seafood.

7. Klappertaart

This is a dish with a rich history! This is a custard pie filled with custard cream and slivers of young coconut, walnuts, raisins, and a hint of rum. This dessert is specific to Manado and is not frequently found in other areas of Indonesia. It’s a well-known Manadonese favorite and can even be bought at the airport as a gift!

8. Rica-Rica


Rica-rica is actually a sauce, so you will find chicken, pork, beef and seafood rica-ricas around Manado. This spicy sauce is similar to sambal, but rica-rica is made from tomato, chilli, garlic, shallots, ginger, coconut oil, lime leaves and lemongrass.

9. Pisang Goreng

Pisang Goreng, banana fried

Pisang translates to banana and goreng means fried. This popular banana dish is flavored with vanilla and is a common dessert – highly recommended!

Book Your Stay

Gazebo at Murex ManadoAre you planning your next trip? Experience Manadonese food right here in North Sulawesi at Murex Resorts. We look forward to welcoming you…

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Three distinct destinations brought together by Passport to Paradise


If you are trying to decide where to stay in North Sulawesi then why not join us for a Passport to Paradise? Instead of limiting yourself to one destination, you can explore all three of North Sulawesi’s distinct diving destinations in one easy trip: Bunaken (Manado Resort), Bangka , and Lembeh.


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