With a concept that fuses endlessly creative food and a playful atmosphere, Bikini is all about enjoying life to the fullest.
Month: August 2018
BEHIND EVERY great bar is a great bartender, this rings true for the best bar in Hong Kong. Known for his experimental and daring concoctions, Agung Prabowo has become one of Asia’s most well regarded bartenders of recent years. A veteran of the industry, it is no surprise that his Ernest Hemingway-inspired bar, The Old Man, has debuted on the No. 5 slot in this year’s Asia’s 50 Best Bars. A bartender of legendary status in his home country of Indonesia, Agung has become an inspiration for many local budding bartenders. His story of success abroad is one that many dream to fulfil in their careers, hoping to follow in his footsteps. However, it is because of his generosity and humility amongst his peers and customers that he is held in high regard.
Born and raised in South Jakarta, Agung dropped out of university to pursue his passion for bartending at a very early age. Beginning his career as a junior bartender in Cafe Kencana in 2000, he built his reputation from the ground up. Inspired by the theatrics of Tom Cruise in the 1988 film Cocktail, he very quickly rose to prominence as one of the best flair bartenders in the city, winning several competitions. Building off his early success, Agung soon was recruited by several hotel bars, eventually landing a position as head bartender and within three months was promoted to bar manager of the Mandarin Oriental hotel bar in Jakarta. At the age of 22, Agung became the youngest bar manager in Jakarta at the time.
A 2005 visit to Hong Kong marked the beginning of an illustrious career in the “Pearl of the Orient.” What initially was a short term stint to set up the bar at the new The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, became a stepping stone for Agung to build his reputation outside of Indonesia. After a few months he was offered a fulltime position. It was throughout his 4 years at the Lobster Bar & Grill at the Shangri-La, that he gained recognition in Hong Kong. He solidified his status when he became the first Indonesian bar manager to be placed in the World’s 50 Best Bars in 2015. His achievements with the Lobster Bar & Grill didn’t go unnoticed and he soon was hired as the beverage director of the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong.
“I realised after becoming a beverage director, I didn’t want to become a food and beverage director or general manager. It wasn’t my passion to be in that position. That was the highest point at a hotel bar, that I wanted to have… So I decided that I wanted to open my own bar”
It was during his time at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong where his dreams of opening his own bar soon became a reality. Agung recounts that it was on a night out drinking, that he and his two friends drunkenly decided they’d quit their jobs to open their own bar. Coincidentally fitting a famous quote by Ernest Hemingway “Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk.” Agung and his two partners James Tamang and Roman Ghale bought a small bar on Aberdeen street in Soho and turned it into the highly successful The Old Man.
Created as a tribute to Ernest Hemingway, the author famously known for his relationship with alcohol, the bar is named after Agung’s favourite novel The Old Man and the Sea. Absolutely unique by design, The Old Man was his dream bar. Working with a designer and inspired by his vision of a perfect bar, Agung sought out to create the most amazing drinking experience for his customers. From the design of a bar station that is on eye level as the customer, to the communal table that forces customers to interact with strangers, to the copper strip across the bar top to keep drinks cool at every sip, the attention to detail ensured that The Old Man would be a bar like no other.
“We are enhancing the classic cocktail to a different level… For most of our drinks, it is about the experience, the smell is different, the taste is different, the aftertaste is different. This is what I’m trying to achieve”
However, it is Agung’s ingenuity in his cocktail menu that has put his bar on the map. Branding his concept of cocktails as experimental, he employs culinary techniques to enhance classic recipes. Daring to be different, it was his desire to create cocktails that would match the brilliance of Hemingway’s works. Agung goes through extensive research and development with the latest techniques and tech to create new flavors, infusions, and cocktail experiences for his customer. His innovative style of cocktails has brought attention from the world, attracting customers from all around the globe to the tiny alleyway outside his bar.
Like a lighthouse attracting ships to the bay, the small lit up sign of The Old Man acts as a beacon to other bartenders. Sometimes known as a bartenders’ bar, Agung’s generosity and personality brings in fellow bartenders from neighboring bars to indulge in a night-cap after they close. He even has opened his own fully equipped mixology lab, located not more than 50 meters from his bar, to his fellow industry-men. Sharing his state of the art equipment and his resources, his reputation and camaraderie is well known across the world of bartending.
“I was doing a seminar earlier, we had about 70 people inside the room. They were very curious about the cocktail concept of The Old Man. So I told them about it. I don’t want to hide it from them. Why should I hide it? I need to share it instead.”
Beloved and well respected in Hong Kong, Agung does speak fondly of his hometown of Jakarta. Often retuning home to conduct bar takeovers, seminars, and workshops, he takes as many opportunities to share his craft and his knowledge with his fellow Indonesian bartenders. Now, he’s currently working on new project, which he then hopes to eventually work his way to opening a The Old Man in his own hometown.
“We are enhancing the classic cocktail to a different level… For most of our drinks, it is about the experience, the smell is different, the taste is different, the aftertaste is different. This is what I’m trying to achieve.”
THE OLD MAN HONG KONG
Lower G/F, 37-39 Aberdeen Street, Soho, Central, Hong Kong Hong Kong
T: +852 2073 1899
THE WAIT FOR this much-anticipated new concept is over, and beneath a tent-like parachute in Berawa, Canggu, Chef Jacob Burrell’s very own culinary dream has materialized in the form of a family-friendly restaurant with an alluring visual concept and a menu that’s to-die for.
“I started thinking about my own project actually back when I was helping out Potato Head group with Attarine Jakarta, although I was still based in Bali. I always just wanted to cook, and my wife, Fiona, had the idea of a pop-up picnic concept at first and then Parachute eventually came to be,” chef-owner Jacob Burrell explained.
As Jacob showed us photos of what they did just before Parachute, we discovered the nice concept of picnic on the beach. “We rented out a local warung and it was basically just me cooking in the dark on Berawa beach, with a mat and table in the sand, and there was nothing like this in Bali before where its super casual and super reasonable price-wise. It was five courses for like 250,000. We kept it as accessible as we could. Fiona did all the design, reservation, service, and all that, and I was cooking away out there. We capped at around 35 people a night.”
Having done this once or twice a week and selling out almost every time, Jacob and Fiona gained their own crowd in no time, and the concept was brought on not far from the beach to a strip of land by a verdant rice paddy. “That gave way to the outdoor kitchen and dining concept we have here at Parachute – it’s a more elaborate version of what we did on the beach with the food still very much in that honest, simple style that made it popular. We’re not aiming to dish out the most instagrammable food on the Island, but we’re going for food that people would want every day with a reasonable price – simple home cooking for all.”
Parachute is an outdoor dining experience in which the main dining area is under the comfortable shade of a giant (surprise, surprise!) parachute. The main seating area is made up of low tables and comfortable chairs, beautifully decorated with vintage traditional textiles which add up to a stylish bohemian setting. Comfort tunes are played all day long and resident DJs would also play snazzy tunes to accompany your scrumptious dining experience.
You can also find dinner tables in front of the outdoor kitchen that has a very visible wood fired oven constantly spreading that comforting smell of burnt wood. Just next to this dining area is a grass field where guests can set down mats and enjoy drinks or light bites on the grass overlookig verdant rice fields and right next to the restaurant’s very own herb garden. The idea is to have families enjoying hearty food as the children run around and have some fun of their own.
The food offering at Parachute, as Jacob explained earlier, is easily relatable by just about anyone, since the philosophy focuses on honest home cooking. You will find signature lunch dishes like the Two-piece fried chicken with coconut-chilli sauce or the Pan-roasted ‘market fish’ fillet to be both very delightful and satisfying. The dinner mains come with a touch of added sophistication, but still very down-to-earth. Definitely try the Wood-fired mackerel steak served with local red rice miso or the Slow-cooked lamb, flavoured with curry and coconut. Must-try finishers include tasty treats like the Rum baba with dragonfruit and jackfruit, good old Apple pie, or Brownie with toasted cashew and ganache.
Parachute also operates a bakery with numerous heavenly breads, cookies, pastries and an ample selection of traditional jamu, cocktails, and super healthy Adaptogenic drinks (herb-based stress relieving fresh drinks) selection. This unique semi-outdoor restaurant is especially recommended for groups of friends and family, as they offer nearly everything to make any recreational eat-out a perfect experience.
Jalan Subak Sari 13, Berawa, Bali 80361
T: +62 813 3742 3010
WHO BETTER TO present elevated Indonesian culinary than Chandra Yudasswara, a seasoned chef with a charming personality who frequently share his passion on national television? With a work philosophy that involves discipline and meticulous techniques, Bacco’s Executive Chef also believes in creativity, in that a good chef must not be entirely dependent on fixed, written recipes, but be liberal about applying his own improvisation honed by experience. Thanks to his exposure in the international culinary stage, including stints in several different top hotels in United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
In addition to co-owning and holding Executive Chef position at Bacco, Lotte Avenue, Chef Chandra Yudasswara also owns his own restaurant, Portable, with various venues in Jakarta, Tangerang, and Makassar. Chef Chandra’s presentation for this spread include a beautiful rendition of Gado-gado, a scrumptious Salmon Dabu-dabu, super classy Beef in Traditional Rendang Sauce, and a tempting and modern take on Putri Mandi dessert.
Chef Chandra reinvented this very traditional and iconic dish into a very presentable dish worthy of pleasing the palate of any culinary enthusiast. All the components of a traditional gado-gado is found in this dish, but instead of the traditional plating, well, if you want to call plopping everything on the plate and mixing “plating”, Chef Chandra placed the vegetables along with a delicious peanut sauce in bite-sized pieces wrapped with rice paper. You can expect to enjoy the very goodness of a traditional gado-gado with a very clean, healthy touch at every bite thanks to the use of only the best ingredients and freshest vegetables.
Rendang is one of Indonesia’s most iconic dishes, which puts together beef, cooked to perfect tenderness through many hours of slow cooking, and rich, spicy flavors. Traditional rendang sees heavy use of coconut milk and a paste of mixed ground spices, including ginger, galangal, turmeric, lemongrass, garlic, shallots, chillis, and other spices. Chef Chandra’s Beef Rendang incorporates his own take on this spiced sauce, but in more moderate amount. The star of the plate remains the perfectly cut and beef, added with a touch of the rendang sauce and served with fresh mixed vegetables as well as perkedel, a soft-textured potato-based side dish.
In this dish that’s largely inspired by the marine riches of North Sulawesi, Chef Chandra uses two kinds of fish, salmon and dory, to make a generously portioned this garnished with none other than Manado region’s signature dabu-dabu spices. A type of hot and spicy condiment, the typical dabu-dabu usually contains red chili peppers, bird’s eye chili, shallots, red and green tomatoes, and a pinch of salt and sugar. Be advised that while the dabu-dabu used to complement these perfectly cooked fish is not as spicy as your typical dabu-dabu, it is still more than mildly spicy and should be enjoyed with caution. However, if you are a fan of Manado food or spicy food in general, than you will be more than satisfied with this dish.
An authentically Indonesian street food that’s traditionally made from sticky rice and coconut milk, putri mandi, literally meaning bathing princess in Indonesian, acquired its name thanks to ample coconut milk broth drenching the cakes within the bowl, making it look like they are bathing. Aside from the traditional balled up sticky rice cakes, Chef Chandra also adds a number of other ingenious components, such as palm sugar cookie, assorted nuts, and mint leaves for a more balanced taste.
Lotte Shopping Avenue, LG
Jalan Satrio Kav. 3-5
T: +62 21 2988 8909
AFTER I first heard about the concept of Salon Bali, I already couldn’t wait for it to open. Set amidst the design forward Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach, this 25-seat venue has a tiny a la carte menu to match, plus a 4 and 6 course tasting menu which can be bridged with cocktails. What sets it apart is that Salon Bali serves contemporary Indonesian fare, and more specifically Balinese cuisine. Traditional cooking techniques such as the use of iron woks and cooking over coffee wood and charcoal in the Josper will be used to create the daily menu. The menu is a collection of indigenous Indonesian produce and spices, sourced locally and from the surrounding islands all brought together to create traditional and authentic Balinese flavors served with elegance and style.
Helmed by executive chef Nic Philip, who aptly describes the menu as “reflections of local flavors I like or what has inspired me throughout the last seven years in Indonesia, the dishes are not traditional yet I push to have the authentic taste and spice make up.” This alone had me eagerly awaiting its opening.
The tall and tattooed Australian chef has a wealth of experience gained at luxury resorts in the Asia Pacific and at European restaurants such as the Michelin-starred Cove Club in London and acclaimed Restaurant Taller in Copenhagen. I asked Nic how he ended up working in Bali. “I was working in Sydney back in 2011 and I had a trip booked to Bali with some school mates from the Gold Coast. It was on that trip that I realized that I wanted to relocate to Bali and it had become apparent that there were jobs for expatriate chefs on the island. I landed my first job in Bali at Cocoon Beach Club in 2012 on Double Six Beach, funnily enough and six years later I am just up the road from where it all started, Cocoon Beach Club on one side and Diana Pura Hotel (now closed) on the other, which is where I had my first Bali holiday back in 1999!”
I surmise, like many who visit Indonesia’s shores, Nic quickly fell in love with the islands, its people and its food. “I have travelled a lot through Java, my food faves would probably Bandung and Jogja, I did some consulting recently in Jakarta also, and really got into the street food scene there, it never sleeps! I have also spent some travel time through Padang and South Sumatra and it was also interesting to see the different spice influences found at the local pasar and in the street food there. For my next trip I am planning to go to Sulawesi.”
One thing is for sure, it is the spices in Indonesian cuisine which Nic has grown to love and like cooking with. “I don’t just mean spice or heat but the spice blends, simple yet complex on the pallet, loads of flavor and rounded balance. It’s amazing how many sambals there really are, I am still discovering. ”It is interesting that Nic mentioned this discovery of sambal, the meal is opened by some snacks, first of which is some rempeyek crackers and pickles, and served with a Balinese sambal mbe – thinly sliced shallots, bird’s eye chili and shrimp paste fried in oil – ground in a mortar and pestle tableside.
Some may wonder why a foreigner to cook Indonesian food. In my opinion, this exact situation is what pushes a chef’s creativity. Since it his not his home cuisine, a chef has to discover, taste and experiment with the different ingredients he has discovered. He researches about cooking techniques and spice combinations. After seven years of living in Indonesia, Nic has discovered his own share of local ingredients, he shared with us some of his new discoveries and favorites to cook with. “Terasi – shrimp paste – a must in any umami packed sambal. Turmeric for its earthiness and flavor, I drink it every day also, I can’t get enough jamu or kunyit loaded fruit juices. Kluwak nut, did you know its poisonous if not cooked correctly? Crazy! And jungle spices like cassia bark, long pepper, kapulaga, nutmeg and mace. And freshly pressed coconut milk.” His newest discovery is asam kandis: “I brought some asam kandis back from a market in Padang earlier this year, still wondering what to do with it I don’t even know its name in English. We have been pickle fermenting kedongdong in a chili dressing, kind of like an asinan style, first time I had started using this north Bali fruit was this year also.”
I thoroughly enjoyed our meal at Salon Bali. The meal began with a beautiful hand washing ritual, reminiscent of Javanese and Balinese ceremonies. Dishes were unique and fresh but with very distinct and authentic Indonesian flavors, and as a bonus, everything was immaculately plated and very much Instagrammable.
The first course was a scallop dish, with smoked coconut, thinly sliced bengkuang (jicama) and a samba ikan kering. This was an excellent start. Bright and refreshing and beautifully presented in a round pearl-shaped dish and cover. The slightly pickled bengkuang married well with the scallops.
Next was a colorful fish dish. Just caught fish was pan seared and served with some wilted kale, smoked corn and a rica-rica sauce. The corn and rica-rica are obviously a nod to Manadonese cuisine but are contemporary spin, the kale interestingly balances out the spice for those who are not used to it.
This was followed by the duck breast with squid “mie rebus.” The perfectly cooked duck breast is served with with noodles made out of squid. The sauce is inspired from a recipe Chef Nic tried in Padang, the flavoring is more towards a nynona laksa without the coconut milk and more of a heady spice kick. Nic says that the spice is almost like an Indian Malabar-like dry spice. There is a heavy Indian heritage influence in Padang that all the spice shops at the pasar are actually run by Indian Indonesians.
The last main was a fork-tender piece of beef short rib. Cooked sous-vide for 48 hours before it is finished over a charcoal grill. It was served with an updated carrot lawar (Balinese mixed vegetables commonly served with protein) and a very rich kluwek sauce.
Dessert was a modern take on the traditional cendol using liquid nitrogen. Elements of the cendol are quick frozen by the liquid nitrogen to give a very cold and memorable end to the meal.
In my experience it is often difficult to modernize Indonesian cuisine because it is known for its simplicity and homeliness. But I think Chef Nic has found the right balance between modern technique, uplifted ingredients and authentic flavor to give Bali a new home for contemporary Indonesian cuisine. A definite must-try on your next visit to the Island.
“I don’t just mean spice or heat but the spice blends, simple yet complex on the pallet, loads of flavor and rounded balance. It’s amazing how many sambals there really are, I am still discovering.”
Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach
Jalan Camplung Tanduk No.10,
T: +62 361 2099999