Bahasa 101: Restaurant Conversations

Learning a new language is hard but it’s definitely a requirement when moving to a new country where English isn’t the first language. Bahasa Indonesia is actually one of the easiest languages to learn, but to ease the learning process, practicing it in everyday life is a must. One of the most important places to practice your Bahasa skills is at a restaurant. This also helps you ordering in Indonesian restaurants, don’t worry about getting judged on your pronunciation of grammar because locals here are super friendly and they acknowledge the effort.

So here are some basic words and phrases that you could use in an Indonesian restaurant to help you enjoy the restaurant more!

more about bahasa click here

Pesan + (insert your dish/drink here)

This is by far the most basic phrase that you can learn to say which literally means ‘order’. You can just read anything on the menu and add it after saying ‘pesan’.

  • Example: Saya mau pesan nasi goreng → I want to order nasi goreng

Untuk berapa orang?

This phrase literally translates to ‘for how many people’. You can use this to ask about the portion of a certain dish relative to the number of people it can serve. The waiter might also use this when you want to get on the waiting list or simply when reserving a table.

  • Example: Nasi goreng untuk berapa orang? → The nasi goreng is for how many people

Untuk jam berapa?

When reserving a table for your group, the person receiving your request might ask you this. It’s Indonesian for ‘for what time?’. So brush up your skills in reading time in Indonesian to make the exchange smoother.

Bisa pakai kartu + (insert card type)?

Especially for places that don’t seem too modern or when it seems like it only accepts cash, you can use this phrase. This phrase literally means ‘can I use (insert type) cards?’. Additionally, to make it more specific, add ‘kredit’ or ‘debit’ after the word ‘kartu’ to denote whether you have a credit card or debit card. You can also add the name of the bank or credit card service that you’re using.

Bayar berapa ya?

The phrase means ‘how much do I pay?’. While it is self-explanatory in its usage but you can also flex to your Indonesian friends with this phrase when ordering together!

Pak, Bu, Mas, Mbak

These are pronouns that you can use to be more polite with the waiters. While these pronouns can’t always be translated in its full social accuracy, we will try to approximate it here. Pak means ‘sir’ but for those older than you, Bu means ‘ma’am’, Mas also means ‘sir’ but the ones younger than you, and Mbak means ‘miss’. Note that these words are also used in other social settings with differing nuance, so brush up those contextual conversations if you want to use these words in a different time and place!

Pesan + (insert dish/drink here) + untuk dibawa pulang

This phrase roughly translates to ‘for takeaway’. So you can use this phrase when ordering an additional dish that you wish to eat at home or when mid-way you decided that it’s not worth it forcing that much portion into your belly.

Tunggu berapa lama?

The phrase translates to ‘how long do I have to wait?’ which you can use for asking how long you will have to wait until the dish is ready to be served or how long do you need to approximately wait according to the waiting list.


The words translate to ‘hot’/’cold’ which you can use for ordering a drink, usually, the waiter would ask you first. Some of the menus are tea and milk.

Tambah es

The phrase translates to ‘add ice’, or ‘add more ice’. The phrase naturally you can use when you want to add ice to a beverage that is just cold but without ice or when you want to add an already iced beverage with more ice.

Tambah satu lagi + (insert dish/drink here)

This phrase translates to ‘to add/order one more’ which you can use to order more of something. You can also change ‘satu’ which means ‘one’ to a specific number that you want the amount of food to be. Another arrangement to the phrase would be ‘tambah’ + (insert dish/drink here) + satu lagi’.

Untuk nanti

The phrase means ‘for later’. You can use this phrase when you want to anticipate eating a certain dish or drink for a later time. Kind of like making sure that the main course doesn’t get served too close to the period where you’re still eating the appetizers.

Pedas, tidak pedas, sedikit pedas

These phrases mean ‘spicy’, ‘not spicy’, ‘a bit/little spicy’ respectively. Of course, some of you already know that an Indonesian cuisine is often a form of fiery dishes for the tongue. So, if you’re not really used to the spiciness of a particular Indonesian food, then ask them to omit the spice like the chilies or sambal, or just get them in a small amount. You can also use a variation of this phrase for not wanting to order a sweet version of a drink by replacing ‘pedas’ with ‘manis’.

Tanpa/Tidak pakai (insert undesired dish/part of the dish/side dish/condiment here)

The phrase ‘tidak pakai’ or ‘tanpa’ is a certain part of the dish that you don’t like. You can also use this to say that you don’t want it to be spicy from the chilies or the sambal by saying ‘tanpa cabai/cabe’, ‘tanpa sambal’, or ‘tidak pakai cabai/cabe’, tidak pakai sambal’.

Terima kasih

Above all, have a habit of saying thank you. You can also add the pak, bu, mas, mbak pronoun after saying ‘terima kasih’. You can also use the short and more laid-back version of ‘makasih’.

read also: 4 Best Indonesian Language Course in Jakarta

Of course, these are only introductory phrases that you can use to make your foody and cultural experience more memorable and kind of educational. You can also be more prepared when you want to order some more local food where the servers are usually not that fluent in English. This is one way of saying that having good Indonesian speaking skills would be good for daily life, so start by using Indonesian when you try to order food!

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