Nusantara is the Indonesian name of Maritime Southeast Asia (or parts of it). It is an old Javanese term which literally means "outer islands".
In the 1800, Singapore was populated by Malays, Chinese and local tribes called Orang Laut or commonly known as Orang Seletar. The Orang Laut are several ethnic groups living around Singapore from the straits of Johor, Malaysian peninsula, Indonesian Riau islands, Myanmar and Thailand archipelago.
In 1822, the Raffles Town Plan was drawn up and Kampong Glam was designated for the Muslim immigrants and traders from the Malay Peninsula, Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi, the Riau archipelago and more.
Pondoks, or communal lodging houses were set up to house newly arrived migrants from their respective hometown which is present day Indonesia and Malaysia.
Pondok Jawa at Sultan Gate was home to many hawkers known for selling Satay, Ketupat, Mee Rebus and Mee Siam. Pondok Melaka, where traders from Malacca stayed brought Cincalok, which is Malaccan style fermented shrimps from Malacca.
As a thriving port area with residents from diverse communities of Nusantara, Kampong Gelam became Singapore’s oldest urban quarters and residents introduced their Nusantara specialties, exchanging culture through food and adding flavours to Singapore’s culinary landscape till today.
“The people of Kampong Khaji (now Bussorah Street) were particularly good at baking cakes. They were also good at making ‘Mee Siam’, ‘Lontong’, ‘Nasi Rawon’ and ‘Nasi Jenganan’ - Oral history review of Haji Mohammad Saat bin Tamby, 17 May 1993.”
Nusantara cuisine has a rich history in Singapore, with Kampong Glam serving as a hub for its diverse and flavorful dishes. As Singapore's oldest urban quarter, Kampong Glam has been a melting pot of cultures and cuisines, with residents sharing their Nusantara specialties and exchanging culinary traditions. Today, the legacy of Nusantara cuisine lives on in the vibrant flavors and dishes served at Gedung Kuning in Kampong Glam.