Vineth Bakery: Surviving The Odds

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Sitting in a nondescript building, very close to the ongoing MRT project in the Panglima Polim area, Vineth Bakery can be easily missed. However, Vineth is a household name with a history spanning three decades and it should not be overlooked.

It was nine in the morning on a public holiday when I arrived for my visit. Already it was packed with people buying cakes, bread and cookies like there was no tomorrow.

Vineth Bakery, along with Holland Bakery and Gandy, are the pioneers of modern Indonesian bakeries. Vineth and Holland survived the odds, while Gandy took a step back.

Vineth is owned by William Wongso, a renowned Indonesian culinary expert. Established in 1977 by his father-in- law, Vineth opened its first store in Samanhudi, Central Jakarta. Many of the cakes were based on recipes originally devised for Western expatriates. In 1980, the bakery, which was named after William’s niece, moved to Jl. Panglima Polim to more suitable market.

It seemed odd to indulge in cultural nostalgia in a city filled with forgotten history. I might belong to a generation where I can only read or see these things in books and old photographs.

Odd or not, there I was, eating cake. I denied my urge to chomp down and ate slowly. I was dissecting the Japonaise Cake with the edge of my fork to observe the layers. I paid attention to what was in it: the mocha ice cream and crumbs of biscuit.

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I also tried the classic croissant with chocolate filling, vanilla Berliner, tiger cake which resembled marble cake, brioche and schweizer zunge. The ones that had a lasting impression for me were the Japonaise Cake and Au Pan Chocolate.

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Vineth actually has a younger sibling in a different form, a restaurant named Warung. Located upstairs and with just few steps, you will see a different style from Vineth. It is a spacious room decorated with historical elements such as paintings, old utensils and other wares, books and wood. Tia Wongso, William Wongso’s daughter, said Warung used to be a private place for people to fine dine but starting from March, it was opened to the public.

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Warung is 10 years younger than Vineth. The menu at Warung mainly focuses on Indonesian food such as Nasi Rendang Bebek, Miitem AOP, and Nasi Jengkol Merah. Both Vineth and Warung sell simple, straightforward food but stay true to their roots and history.

 

VINETH BAKERY
Jalan Panglima Polim Raya No. 63-65, Jakarta
T: +62 21 7244911
Instagram: @vinethbakery


Written by Tatu Hutami Photographs by Tatu Hutami April 30, 2017.

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