In contrast to what you may suspect after seeing this title, this post is about food, not technology. In Indonesia, there is this thing. This amazing thing. It is the kind of restaurant that they should have everywhere. Actually, a variant of this does exist in several countries under the name of ‘buffet restaurant’. But it is not the same.
In a warteg (Warung Tegal, named after a certain region in Indonesia), they have many different features, which all create a technological idea causing many people to name these kinds of restaurants a touchscreen restaurant.
Feature one: touchscreen. You can look at the different kinds of food, and point at what looks good. Then, the seller will put it on a plate for you (if you want to eat there) or wrap it up in paper (if you want to take away). It’s very easy.
Feature two: voice-activated search. If you are not sure what you’re looking at (which is not uncommon with Indonesian food) you can try to use the voice-activated search feature. If you want to eat some vegetables, you just say ‘sayuran’ (vegetables) and the seller will point at one of the plates that has vegetables on it, all the while looking at you questioningly. If it looks good, nod once. If it does not look good, shake your had, or give a small wave of the hand.
This kind of restaurant is really great. There is something for everyone. But, most of these restaurants make the food in the morning and they will leave it out until it it sold. So if you go there for dinner, you should know that the food won’t be very fresh. For me, a person who doesn’t eat meat, fish or egg, that’s not a problem. But I wouldn’t recommend buying these foodgroups late at night (but, me being me, I wouldn’t recommend buying these foodgroups at all :) ).
A funny thing is that when you want to eat at a warteg and your friend wants to eat at the street-cart outside… there is no problem. One of you can just get the food and sit at the other establishment (if you can call them establishments). You can also bring your own drink to the warteg if you want. Oh, and, you will probably never spend more than a euro when you eat at a warteg. They also have loads of krupuk, free for the taking. But you have to pay afterwards ;)
There is also another kind of shops, called warkop (warung kopi). Literally translated this means coffeeshop, which is funny because I am from The Netherlands. While at the warteg they sell full sized meals, at the warkop they sell snack-like foods. To go with your coffee, or tea.
And remember, if all else fails: NASI is everywhere.