If there’s one dish you can’t leave Medan without trying at least once, it’s bihun bebek – rice vermicelli topped with chunks of tender duck meat and usually served with a bowl of broth on the side.
During our year-end trip, we had the privilege of having that delectable bowl of noodles for breakfast not once, but twice (on separate days, of course – though I dare say you could go for double portions if you were particularly ravenous) – at two well-known, yet vastly different places: Bihun Bebek Kumango and Bihun Bebek Akien.
I did a little post-trip checking, and there aren’t many reviews in English (save for the many reviews Kumango has on TripAdvisor), so…. here you go!
Check out my other Medan reviews:
Bihun Bebek Kumango was our first pit stop, having landed and cleared customs at Kualanamu Airport way ahead of the check-in time at our hotel. Kumango was brimming with customers, even though it was 10.30am on a weekday.
The place has a decidedly bustling, old-school atmosphere, with plates piled high on tiled counters. With the owner toiling at the front of the shop, we found ourselves huddled around one of the bigger tables at the back.
At RP 60,000, Kumango’s bihun bebek is the most expensive in Medan. But you get what you pay for – look at that sheer amount of duck bones in the vat, for one! Kumango’s owner confidently told us that this is what makes his noodles a league above Ippudo’s.
Portions are exceedingly generous, with the tender, melt-in-your-mouth duck meat and crunchy vegetables easily overwhelming the noodles, which had a springy, QQ-like texture that Singaporeans would find strikingly similar to tang hoon. Add re-fillable fried garlic for that extra crunch and pungent aroma, and you’ll understand why Kumango sells out every afternoon.
So sinful, and so good.
Now for the broth, which deserves special mention of its own. Kumango boils their soup with a whopping one hundred ducks – what you get is a cloudy broth packed with all that flavour! Way better than the ajinomoto filled soups from hawker centers back home.
Address at the bottom of my post!
If Bihun Bebek Kumango is the bustling, must-see attraction for foodies far and wide, Bihun Bebek Akien is your typical hidden gem; so secluded from tourist hot spots that it’s almost impossible to find if you didn’t hear it through word of mouth. In fact, we almost couldn’t spot it, due to the stall being tucked away from the street – you need to look out for the yellow signage that reads Medan Bestari.
Named after a mother who runs the shop with her three daughters, Bihun Bebek Akien might lack the bustling, even boisterous crowd of Kumango, but still dishes up a dose of homeliness, both in cooking and in atmosphere.
What I liked about Akien’s bihun bebek is the variety of toppings: lettuce, duck meat, spring prawn paste balls and melt in your mouth braised pork with just the right amount of fried garlic. While portions were not as generous as Kumango’s, there was a sense of heart that could be felt in Akien’s cooking. I also appreciated the herbal aftertaste in Akien’s broth, which reminded me of the soups that my mom used to prepare for dinner.
Each bowl costs RP 30,000.
Given the vast differences in price and offerings, it’s fair to say that Bihun Bebek Kumango and Bihun Bebek Akien have their own strengths – personally, I preferred Kumango’s noodles and duck meat, but Akien’s broth and variety of toppings won my palate over.
Oh, and you might want to skip breakfast at your hotel and head straight for your bihun bebek fix, because both sell out pretty quickly. And now for the most important question: why hasn’t this dish come to Singapore yet?!
Bihun Bebek Kumango
Address: Jalan Kumango No. 15
Opening hours: 6.30am – 11am daily
Price: RP 60,000
Bihun Bebek Akien
Address: Komplek Sekip Indah, Jalan Sekip (it’s the furthest unit from the street)
Opening hours: 7am – 2pm daily
Price: RP 30,000