As a spirited foodie, I’m constantly on the lookout for the next best dining venue in the city. When it’s just me, I tend to be more flexible and adventurous regarding my choice of food, but it’s a completely different ballpark when I’m taking my family out to eat. My family tends to gravitate towards familiar Indonesian flavours, and loves big and airy venues – thus, after one of my litmus of a great dining experience is if I can finish dining at a restaurant, and say to myself, “I’d imagine that my family would be perfectly happy to eat here!”
Enter Silk Bistro: BIKO Group’s latest venture sits in a newly renovated house in the upscale district of Menteng. Offering contemporary Asian cuisine, diners are invited to dine in its three areas: main dining area, smoking area, and private area. The venue itself is elegant yet approachable, casual yet charming. Outside is a backyard of greeneries that adds to Silk Bistro’s delights.
At the helm of Silk Bistro is Chef Freddie Salim, Indonesian chef who has built an impressive career in Australia prior to his return to Jakarta in early 2020. “When people visit Silk Bistro, we want them to feel welcome. As if they’re visiting a relative’s home,” he said. Chef Freddie is no stranger to the culinary scene, in fact, he grew up immersed in a very lively dapur basah, “My mother ran a catering business, so it was a daily occurrence for me to open my bedroom door and see a busy kitchen with large pots and pans all over the place,” he said, recounting with fondness, “The tables at home were always with different kinds of food every day.”
His love for the culinary world didn’t happen all at once, “It wasn’t until I became a dishwasher and experienced the camaraderie in the kitchen that I realized that I had fallen in love with the culinary world.” Adding to the experience is when his Head Chef at a Japanese restaurant asked him to man the tempura section, “I learned and experienced the kitchen there, and from there my passion started to build.”
But what cemented Chef Freddie’s passion for food and Asian ingredients was during his four-year stint at Longrain Sydney, “That was when I took my time to get to know Southeast Asian ingredients,” he said. “I started to smell lemongrass, galangal, tamarind – all ingredients we have back at home.” At Longrain, Chef Freddie started as commis and worked his way up to Head of Production.
Returning to Jakarta, Chef Freddie witnessed the hustle and bustle of the culinary scene, “It was not only vibrant, but I thought everyone seemed hungry for what’s new and what’s next,” he said. That vibrancy of the culinary scene is also the dealing hand that landed his role at BIKO Group. “I was accidentally headhunted in an event, and I received a phone call the other day, ‘Do you want to meet Mikael [Mirdad, owner of BIKO Group – Ed.]?’ He took up on the offer in late 2021 and talked about everything else aside from business – and the rest is history. Chef Freddie joined BIKO Group in early 2022, and now serves as Executive Chef/Owner at Silk Bistro.
“I’ve always known that I wanted to cook Asian food, and the vision became more clear when we came across this gorgeous venue at Teuku Cik Ditiro,” said Chef Freddie, “We chose Silk as a name, referring to the Silk Road. It was one of the many – if not the most amazing – way for people to exchange not only goods, but culture.”
That cultural exchange is an inspiration for the array of dishes that is offered by Silk Bistro, one of them being how he married the concept of Eastern noodles with Western pasta in the Truffle Black Pepper Noodle. He also implements the various techniques he’s mastered over the years to craft fresh dishes which highlight Asian flavours.
Now, he leads the kitchen at Silk Bistro with heart. Communicating and telling stories is an important part of Chef Freddie’s kitchen, and once a week, he takes the time to talk about more than just business – but also life. “We talk and draw inspiration from what everyone loves to eat, what their favourite childhood dishes were, where they like to take their families out to eat,” he shared. As Indonesians are driven by the perpetual question of “Makan apa ya?” or “What should we eat?” Chef Freddie likes to start the discussion from within his team, and uses it as a source of creativity. “It’s a question that ignites inspiration in the kitchen,” he said.
When asked about his must-try dishes at Silk Bistro, Chef Freddie shared his personal favourites. “Chicken Liver Pate, that really showcases what contemporary Asian dishes are. The Yellow Curry Lamb Shank, because it reminds me of my days in Longrain and how we would make curry sauce from scratch. The last one would be our selection of meats on the wood-fired grill: I have a soft spot for Australian meat, and it’s just never enough.”
Jl. Teuku Cik Ditiro No.30, Menteng, Kec. Menteng, Jakarta, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 10310