HANS GREW UP with the influence of a baker mother and artist father. He started to try his hand at food in high school though the outcome was not always as expected. After graduating from high school, Hans was determined to pursue an education at design school. However, he changed his mind at the last minute.“I’m an artsy person. Cooking is a platform where art can be expressed. I think there are two types of chefs. The first one is the foodie, the chef who goes into the industry because they like to eat. I’m not that one. The second type is not so much into eating but they enjoy the process of creating something. They enjoy crafting the food.” Hans obviously falls in the later category.
I was thoroughly enthralled by Hans’ succinctness in creating this menu. The minute you open the menu, you know that he invested a great deal of thought in creating these dishes. I love meals which tell a story.
Terroir is a term originally used as a set characteristic of soil, climate, tradition and terrain as an environmental factors that affect a wine. In today’s world, the term ‘terroir’ is used for a wider meaning. For his dinner, Hans used the term ‘terroir’ to refer to a specific place, culture and history of a dish where each of the seven courses and the cocktail pairing may highlight different ingredients from different regions and its story.
The first dish, which Hans called Strait of Lombok, was a mix of Lombok Abalone, Blue Swimmer Crab, Smoked Mahi-Mahi Consomme, and Seabeans. The deep seas of Lombok has remained very much off the radar, not many know they are the source of amazing seafood. The first dish is paired with Sparkle of South East Asia cocktail, a mix of kecombrang (torch ginger) infused gin, with homemade calamansi soda.
The second dish was Nikkei, Over A Decade,a tiradito of Hamachi, Passion Fruit Leche de Tirgre and Piquillo Pepper. In the 1800s, thousands of Japanese workers immigrated to Peru with a promise of a jobs. Many chose to stay and had families there, resulting in a huge growth of Japanese population in Peru. This gave a significant cultural impact on the country, which resulting in the birth of Nikkei cuisine; a Japanese Peruvian fusion food that has its roots lies in the significance of both their tradition give to fresh fish.The dish is paired with Lemongrass Candy cocktail, a mix of lemongrass infused vodka with freshly squeezed lemon and sugar.
The third dish is Plateau of La Mancha, Manchego Cheese Fondue with Walnuts and Grapes. Manchego cheese always has been a valuable heritage for the people of La Mancha. The unique cheese is made exclusively from milk of Manchega sheep, a breed that has been raised only in La Mancha region since ancient times. I love Manchego and Hans crafted this beautifully plated warm Manchego fondue, which was well balanced and went extremely well with the grapes and walnuts. A cheese dish in the middle of a meal! This course is served as a symbol of La Mancha’s pride. The cheese dish is paired with Martini of Jerez, a mix of gin, sherry, homemade thyme syrup and orange bitter.
The fourth course was Paris 1865, Organic ‘Ulu’ Chicken, Lou Fassum Apricot with Supreme Sauce. The dish is inspired by a story during a climacteric moment in 1865, when Escoffier, the father of culinary, first entered the kitchen as a cook in Paris. He was then called for military duty, hired as an army chef. He spent the next seven years in the army, stationed throughout France. One of Escoffier’s contributions to cooking was to elevate it to the status of a respected profession by introducing organized hierarchy discipline to his kitchens, or known as kitchen brigade system; which have been adopted by chefs not only in France but also throughout the world. This course is a tribute for his recipe, where poultry was treated as a luxury dish, unlike any other place during his time of haute cuisine. The chicken dish is paired with Apricot Rouge cocktail, a mix of apricot Brandy, freshly squeezed lemon, with sugar and a splash of sparkling water.
The fifth dish was named Tribute To Umami. Wagyu Striploin with Wild Mushroom, Nori and Sake. In the late-1800s, chef Auguste Escoffier, who opened restaurants in Paris and London, created meals that combined umami with flavors of salty, sour, sweet and bitter tastes altogether. He did not know then the chemical source of this unique quality. However, umami was first scientifically identified in 1908 by Kikunae Ikeda, a professor from Tokyo. He found that glutamate was responsible for the palatability of the broth from kombu seaweed. He noticed that the taste of kombu dashi was distinct from sweet, sour, bitter, and salty and named it umami. The wagyu striploin is paired with VIEW Boulevardier cocktail (Bourbon, Campari, Malbec, and Homemade Vanilla Orange Syrup).
The first dessert course, was Opening Of The Horizon, a serving of Namoura, Honey, Milk, Hibiscus. The name is drawn from a name of ancient Egypt’s festival, a day sacred to the dual lion God Aker. It was believed on this day Aker would come forth among the people to celebrate the strength of the sun as well as the ability of the sun to bring strength and life to all other things and as well to thank Aker for continuing to protect the horizon. The Egyptians believed honey was the tears of the sun because the way honeycombs drip honey when exposed to midday heat of the sun. Hence the main component of honey cake. This dessert is paired with Sugar Cane Coffee cocktail (a mix of dark rum and light rum with freshly squeezed lemon and homemade coffee spice syrup). This was one of my favorite courses. The combination of textures and flavors really appealed to me.
The last course was An Offering For Apicius, which basically was Hot Chocolate Enriched with Truffle. The name is inspired by the three Romans famous for their taste of good living. Marcus Gavius Apicius is a Roman Gourmet, born in AD 25 (year 778), who is reputed for his extravagance and expensive tastes. He is credited with inventing a process of force feeding sows with dried figs in order to fatten their liver, as well as devising recipes for flamingo or nightingale tongues, camel’s heels, cakes and sauces.Apicius once chartered a ship to go and check if the Libyan Squillas (scampi or Jumbo shrimp) were as large as they were reputed to be. Disappointed with what he was offered by the local fishermen, he did not even set foot on land. He spent all of his fortune on sumptuous banquets until the day when, realizing he was running out of wealth, he decided to poison himself rather to turn to a more modest way of living.
All in all, I have not had an exquisitely crafted meal in Jakarta like this one in a long time. Chef Hans is definitely one of the chefs we should all keep a keen eye on.
Jalan Asia Afrika No. 8, Jakarta
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Photographs by: Fairmont Jakarta