If there’s a hidden gem waiting to be exposed upon Jalan Ciragil besides the famous ketoprak, is the humble gado-gado vendor which has been operating since 1976!
Month: November 2016
Nicola Scaramuzzino, the F&B Director of Gran Melia Jakarta, is all about being brave and open-minded, being adventurous with life. It’s the same approach he suggests people take with wine.
BORN AND RAISED in the wine region of Chianti in central Tuscany, Italy, Nicola got introduced to wine at a very young age.
“We have a tradition of giving babies a spoon of wine when they are 6-month-old. Birthday toddlers will also get wine diluted with water as part of the celebration. Older kids will get sparkling wine. Wine is part of our culture, we drink lunch and dinner,” Nicola said eyes lit up.
One of his fondest memory was “stealing” wine during dinner time.
“In my kampung, we had a neighbor who was a Chianti producer. He gave our family a 25-liter wine in a container, which we kept in our basement. To serve the wine for dinner, kids would be told to transfer some wine to a carafe.”
“The way to take some of the wine is by siphoning them with a tube, the way you would siphon gasoline. But while sucking up the wine, we would have some very good gulps. You’re drunk on your way to the dinner table!” Nicola said with a laugh.
When asked what his favorite wine was, the lively and talkative Nicola took a pause.
“Ah, it’s a big question. It depends on the mood, the day, the time of having the wine. I love Amarone; I like of course Brunello di Montalcino; everyone love Sassicaia and Champagne.”
“I got to know new world wine very recently, but I still prefer wine from Europe because I grew up with those,” he said.
Nicola goes wherever his interest and challenges call upon him. Upon obtaining in computer programming, which made him a part of the first generation of computer programmers out of Italian schools, Nicola went to study natural science at university.
But then he found himself in hospitality business, which then saw him stationed in Bali, Indonesia, to handle Italian customers. During his time in the industry, he helped develop a lot tourism destinations in Indonesia, opening new areas to Italian tourisst in Java and Lombok Islands.
He has been in trips all over the archipelago—a feat not even many Indonesians can boast— in some of which he helped produce a number of documentaries about Indonesia for Italian TV. Prior to joining Gran Melia Jakarta in October 2015, he successfully managed the famous Mozaic restaurant in Ubud for six years.
“Gran Melia pose a big challenge. My vision here is to bring back the hotel to what it used to be in F&B scene, improving the overall quality and experience and bring something new in Jakarta,” he said.
Among the effort was boosting a gastronomical series event at RedLevel, Gran Melia’s boutique hotel within a hotel. “I want to highlight as many good local chef as possible in dinner events for 20-25 people. These are intimate events where people can interact with each other and with the chef,” he explained.
“People go out not for the food but also for the other people, the music, the atmosphere. A dinner is an experience.” Couldn’t agree more.
While we wonder what is the art behind good eating, General Manager of The Westin Jakarta, Arun Kumar, believes that the art lies within making it a family affair, simply because food is best experienced together.
ON THAT FINE afternoon, we are ushered towards a cosy corner of a dazzling lounge located on the 52nd floor of the tallest hotel in Indonesia. Overlooking the panoramic cityscape through the floor-to-ceiling windows, it is no wonder that the entire staff of The Westin Jakarta could identify this corner as ‘Mr. Arun’s favorite spot’.
Meanwhile, General Manager Arun Kumar takes a short break from running what he refers to as a ‘mini-city’ and welcomes our distraction to talk about what we collectively love best, food!
“Food is something passed down through generations, sometimes it does not require any written recipes,” shares Arun Kumar who recalls a lot of his earliest food memories involving his grandmother in his hometown, Banglore, India. “Out of the many dishes my grandmother used to cook, my mom would attempt to make fifty-percent of it. And now, my wife perhaps attempt about twenty five-percent,” he says lightly chuckling.
Back in the day, Arun recollects eating a lot of idli – a traditional Indian breakfast made of fermented lentils and rice, served with other condiments – almost every Sunday mornings with his family.
“However, food habits and interests change, especially when you leave home,” says Arun, who spent majority of his career on the move around the globe. “These days food is about exploring new things and occasionally grabbing the most convenient options.”
Arun admits that being in the hospitality industry was an unplanned career path especially since it wasn’t a preferred choice in India. “It caused a lot of confusion with my family, mainly because I started off as a waiter but somehow I managed to do something different from the predictable path,” he says passionately.
Another unforeseen calling was settling in Indonesia – twice within a decade. “Jakarta has the comfort and everything else that my family and I need.”
Fortunately for Arun, getting accustomed to the flavors of Indonesia is not a difficult task since he was raised in a country that is also known as the land of spices. “There are many similarities between the food from both countries; both cuisines are spicy, varied and packed with flavors.”
One of his favorite local dishes is Rendang, which he considers the closest to an Indian curry. He particularly loves Westin Jakarta’s very own dried beef Rendang from Seasonal Tastes.
Eating outside tends to be a family decision, which is mainly dependent on his fourteen-year-old daughter’s fingertips responsible for discovering the latest must-try restaurants on the net, while his six-year-old son occasionally gets the chance to indulge on his current fixation for Carl’s Junior. However, Arun gets his turn once a month, which includes his go-to food like Xia Long Bao from Din Tai Fung or some juicy handmade burger patties.
“Our food choices are so varied. Both the kids have international food habits so they can pretty much live off of almost anything, which takes out a little stress from us as parents sometimes,” says the family man. However, some Sundays are reserved for home cooked meals, with Arun himself as the chef.
From spending his years exploring the culinary world in Indonesia together with his family, some of his favourite spots include Mamma Rosy, Kahyangan Teppanyaki Restaurant and Blue Grass, especially for date night. Notice the varied choices reflecting their international palate?
“Food is really fascinating! In any country I go to, even if it doesn’t seem appealing to me I must try and taste it,” discloses the globetrotter.
He also believes that the ever-changing F&B industry in Indonesia will thrive on continuing to serve authentic food in the future. “Despite the many fusion restaurants, people will go back to eating what they are familiar with as a kid so in the future, the restaurants that are here to stay are the ones that serve authentic food.”
Comically, the question he found the hardest to answer is what he loves to do during his free time, “When I get some free time, keyword being ‘when’, then I sleep.”
However, something Arun will always spare some time for is indulging in his guilty pleasures, “That’s the problem with eating too early, I end up raiding the fridge for chocolates or cheese in the middle of the night,” he admits regretfully. “I pretty much have all types of cheese and chocolates stocked up and constantly refilled!”
- Ayam Goreng Berkah Rahmat
Why: Serving people since 1962, Ayam Goreng Berkah Rahmat is Jakartans favorite place to enjoy traditionally marinated fried chicken. This place only serve ‘ayam kampung’, which means the chicken is raised traditionally free range.
What to order: Of course you should order a whole chicken, with some sop ceker.
Address: Jalan Panglima Polim III, No. 2, T: +62 21 68107335
- Sinou Kaffee Hausen & Eatery
Why: It’s a great place to relax from the busy environment in Jakarta. You can recharge your energy by having coffee and some snack while enjoying their cool interior.
What to order: Try the Sinou Tea, which has tea, coffee, and milk in it. Also you might want to try the Beaf Meat Ball Baked Rice.
Address: Jalan Panglima Polim V No. 26, T: +62 21 7258568
- Sate Apjay
Why: They are committed to serve meat only without any fat or skin, not like the usual sate seller. Some sate seller put fat on the skewer to make it more tempting, but in Apjay, they use peanut oil and some lime.
What to order: You can order the ordinary chicken meat sate, or be a alittle bit adventurous by trying the Sate Uritan. It is really good!
Address: Apjay Food Market, Jalan Panglima Polim IX No. 22, T: +62 877 7770 4080
- 1953 Restaurant Indonesien
Why: A nice dining place to enjoy traditional Indonesian food. Not only the foods are delicious, but it has generous portions.
What to order: The oxtail soup, nasi kapau, and also try the sate maranggi with ketan.
Address: Jalan Panglima Polim IX No.93, T: + 62 21 7241953
- Bakmi Ngelawan
Why: Healthy noodle that served with some vegetable oil and no MSG added.
What to order: Bakmi sambal roa, paired with their super good meatball.
Address: Jalan Panglima Polim IX (next to Alfamart), T: +62 812 1252 4477
Why: Cozy place where you can enjoy some exotic Indonesien food.
What to order: Gohu Tuna and Ice Limun Serut.
Address: Jalan Panglima Polim V No. 38A, T: +62 823 1102966
Why: Are you a sweet-tooth? You should go and try the waffle in Woodpecker. You can enjoy it with some good music in the air and a cup of good coffee.
What to order: Waffle oreo and a cup of cappucino.
Address: Jalan Panglima Polim V No. 23, T: +62 21 29305356
- Warung Sekar Taji
Why: They serve the true homemade Eastern Javanese food. As long as you can handle eating in small food store, this place is a must. Or, if you really curious, you can order for delivery.
What to order: One of the best seller menu is Sayur Lodeh. Try a sip then you know why.
Address: Jalan Panglima Polim 5 No. 6, T: +62 21 7396668
- Chung Gi Wa
Why: Korean fever is still keep going here in Indonesia, and if you curious of how delicious BBQ korean style is and you are nearby from Panglima Polim area, then you have to go here.
What to order: Samgyopsal, yukhwe, and usol. Confused with the name of the dishes? The waiter will gladly explain them to you.
Address: Jalan Wijaya II No.118, T: +62 21 7261924
Why: You are working hard until midnight and now feel hungry? Then you might want to go to this 24 hours food places which offers a sweet and savory of pork hainam rice.
What to order: Nasi Campur.
Address: Grand Wijaya Center, Blok C No. 4, Jalan Wijaya 2, Dharmawangsa, T: +62 21 7235228
- Bao Ji
Why: This place offering you a juicy roasted pork belly, wrapped in steamed Bao (Chinese style buns).
What to order: Roast pork belly and Panko Belly.
Address: Pelaspas Dharmawangsa, Jalan Dharmawangsa Raya No. 4, T: +62 882 12771056
- SNCTRY Health Bar
Why: This place is committed to serve healthy food using organic produce from the local farmers.
What to order: The super refreshing Coconut Bowl.
Address: Pelaspas Dharmawangsa, Jalan Dharmawangsa Raya No. 4
Flustering eyes, racing heart, blushing cheeks and gasping mouth are some of the euphoric feelings encountered while living largely. Similarly, these are the feelings met before devouring a plate of your favourite scrumptious dish – what makes it even better is if it seems everlasting! In conclusion, to live large, you must eat large!
Executive Chef Stefano Attardi of The Ritz-Carlton, Bali exuberates an aura of warmth, brilliance and simplicity through his presence, which he exquisitely transfers to his cooking, professional career and lifestyle.
“FOOD DOES NOT need to be complicated,” said the recently appointed Executive Chef of Ritz-Carlton, Bali. “The root of a great dish is simple; fresh ingredients that are cooked properly and presented beautifully.”
According to Chef Stefano, the most important and simplest aspect of good cooking was obtaining the freshest of all ingredients, from olive oil to onions, bread, meat and fish, you name it.
“It is incredibly satisfying to use fresh produce to cook! When you get good products, 50 percent of your job is pretty much done,” he added.
Chef Stefano’s sensational cookery can be seen in the dazzling array of dishes served in one of the resort’s captivating restaurants, The Beach Grill.
Take for example, the Sunday Feast – Brunch by The Beach menu, which offers a selection of appetizers from juicy Thai beef salad, parma ham grissini, pork gyoza and a unique fusion salad, which combines the king of citruses, pomelo with poached crabs and a popular local hot sauce called sambal matah.
The main course includes tender striploin, pork ribs and an unprecedented seafood platter with various sizeable catch of the day including local lobsters that are simply seasoned and grilled to perfection. For epicureans alike, what could be more gratifying than enjoying a plate of fresh, sweet and succulent seafood by the beach, while overlooking the indigo horizon of the Indian Ocean.
“When I worked in the Caribbean, we used to get seafood that were extremely fresh that we couldn’t cook it right away because it will turn rock hard, so we will have to wait it out. However, the seafood that is available all year round here in Bali is among the best in the world,” said the chef who brings nearly 15 years of culinary experience from world-class hotels and restaurant from around the globe including Italy, Switzerland, Florida, Barcelona, Dubai and the Cayman Islands.
Originally from Naples, Italy, Chef Stefano deemed his cooking flair as more light compared to most Indonesian dishes that are generally heavier on spices and herbs. However, he adapted quickly and believed in staying true to the country’s cuisine by providing the best for the local palates.
“I don’t really like buffet and leaving the food out in the open for too long. So, we really wanted to come up with a concept where the customers can come in, relax and order as much as they want from a big menu!” – Talk about eating large with some exceptional service!
Chef Stefano found his true métier at a tender age of 13 in a restaurant that was owned by his father’s good friend, just a little away from home. “They used to call me to the kitchen to say hello, so I was intrigued to see so many people running around trying to make something wonderful,” said the passionate chef.
He then spent most of his annual summer vacation there and insisted to be involved behind the scenes. “While my brother would jump into the pool in the same complex as the restaurant, and my friends would go to the beach in another part of town, I would run in to the kitchen to cut onions!”
He continued to pursue his passion by graduating from culinary school in Italy and spending his younger years interning in Switzerland as a kitchen hand before acquiring various distinctions under his belt, from all over the world. “As a kitchen hand, I learned to differentiate, handle and appreciate all types of produce even the simplest ones like mushrooms,” said Stefano, who for the first time ever has earned the title of an Executive Chef, in the Island of Gods.
Chef Stefano believed highly in setting a family-like working environment, “In this industry, you want to create love and warmth between the team,” said the award-winning chef. “Especially the people here in Indonesia, they have genuine hearts. All that they need are a little guidance.”
The humble chef simply wanted to be known for a shared passion and love of food with those around him, including his customers, friends and co-workers. “It makes me really happy when people call or email me about what I previously served or said that had touched them. I want to leave behind the memory of Chef Stefano being a great person.”
With the exceptional mark he has left on our palates, we will surely remember him for more!
THE RITZ-CARLTON, BALI
Jalan Raya Nusa Dua Selaton Lot III, Nusa Dua, Bali
T: +62 361 849898