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The August Experience

The August Experience

Nisya Kunto
24 November 2022

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The team at August strives to serve more than just great food but a memorable dining experience in the city.

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Stepping into August, I was met with an ambiance that struck me as quintessentially Jakarta. Located at Sequis Tower in the heart of Sudirman Central Business District, August interprets contemporary dishes with a touch of Indonesia. Lit by ambient dim lighting, the chic dining room at August was divided into three areas – lower dining area, upper dining area, and bar area – with the main attraction being the open kitchen where you can see chefs and cooks preparing your dinner. 

At the helm of August is chef-owner Hans Christian, who is backed by a culinary degree from Taylor’s University Malaysia, as well as culinary experiences working at various dining establishments in the USA. Chef Hans previously led the team at VIEW Restaurant at Fairmont Jakarta before pursuing his own kitchen at August. August is the brainchild of Chef Hans and managing partner Budi Cahyadi. Chef Hans and Budi decided to resign from their full-time jobs in 2019 before continuing to start planning and construction for August. After only running their kitchen for six months, the pandemic halted their original plans. 

”The pandemic took the face-to-face aspect of dining from us. We had to adjust and did private dining for two years. We sold many of our signature favorites and adjusted our business model to sustain the team,” recalled Chef Hans. Budi then added to the recollection, “(During that time) the food delivery model was our way to look after our team. There was so much uncertainty, and those people who committed with us since day one, we felt like we had to come up with a solution.”

But August emerged victorious through the pandemic, opening its doors for diners back in late 2021. August has since served its creative culinary expressions to excited diners in the city. “The name August held a significant meaning for us, as the both of us were born in August,” said Chef Hans, gesturing to both himself and Budi, “But when we looked up the meaning, August also meant — respectable and impressive as an adjective. That is what we want to achieve.”

The decision to make an open kitchen is supported by several reasons expressed Chef Hans, “One is so that we can communicate through the open kitchen and show the process as it is. Two, it encourages a sense of showmanship. And three, it encourages discipline and cleanliness in the kitchen.”

Pastry Chef Ardika Dwitama Tjandra, Sous Chef Yohanes Januardy, and Assistant Restaurant Manager Gracia Natalia Hartono fortify the team in August. “We don’t only aim for August to be a restaurant, but also an institution,” shared Budi, “We want people to understand that working in a restaurant is a responsibility of ensuring that people feel good about it and believing that what you do here is special.”

My dinner started with a flute of refreshing kombucha; the distinct and refreshing taste felt like summer in my tastebuds. Then, it was time for the crowd favorite to take the stage: Adam Levain EVOO Bread. The bread was produced with a three-year-old sourdough, paired with a serving of mushroom and a pungent topping of parmesan. The bread was perfectly spongy, with a nice crispy char on the outer part. This dish easily made it into my list of favorites.

The next starter was a combo of Breakfast from Mom and compressed kyuri served with ikura. Breakfast from Mom reminded me of the Indonesian childhood staple of fried sausage in your lunchbox. This was Chef Hans’ interpretation of his childhood memory of rice with lap Cheong omelet. In contrast, the umami hints from the roe complement the freshness, sweetness, and crunch from the kyuri.

The next round of starters featured white fish tartare sourced from Lombok, prawn with lychee served with mint, and beef carpaccio with black Angus wagyu. However, the star among the starters is the fan-favorite Foie Gras PB&J. The legendary dish was light, creamy, and rich – paired with a hint of acidity from the slices of grapes on top. The foie gras perfectly imitated the texture of the good ol’ PB&J, making it the second dish tonight that made it into my favorite list.

The next starter was August’s Straciatella Salad, a mix of bold umami flavors from mozzarella and cheese foam, served atop a bed of tomato, bread, and basil. The thick and rich cheese foam makes an interesting pairing with the burst of flavors from the tomato & basil.

Then, the Hokkaido scallops and daikon took the table. Served with chargrilled corn and Daun ruku-ruku, with saos Laksa Riau and andaliman, this starter was a combination of sweet, smoky, and savory from the scallop. A small bowl of fresh, crunchy corn was also served, letting me experience the corn’s taste and texture in its basic form.

A quick intermission was introduced with the only deep-fried dish of the night: Croquettes. Its humble appearance might be misleading, as it is filled with flavorful duck leg confit, opor sauce, and a sliver of potato, topped with Coca-Cola raisin jam. I was advised to eat it upside down so I could really taste the jam on top.

James and Jen’s Fresh Egg were next on the list. The eggs were sourced straight from a farm in Bogor, ensuring quality and freshness. The sous-vide egg was paired with a bacon marmalade with a slight caramelization and encircled by a bed of blanched horenzo. The dish’s combination of taste and texture crept its way discreetly into my list of favorites.

Finally, I made my way into the main courses of the night: starting with Garang Asem. A serving of fish meets a pouring of fish bone broth from a clear teapot infused with August’s homemade curry paste. This rendition of the Indonesian Garang asem dish is a dish that, for me, parallels its local inspiration.

The next main course is an A5 wagyu skirt steak, served with an equally meaty oyster mushroom. The steak was perfectly grilled on the outside while remaining a medium-rare pink on the inside. Served with coarse salt, chimichurri, and August’s special sauce on the side, my personal favorite choice is to top off the steak with salt – elevating the character of the steak itself.

Come dessert time; I was served by a parade of three desserts, courtesy of Chef Ardika Dwitama: Lemongrass Sorbet with Strawberry sheet, Black rice pudding with soursop and suji leaf, Frozen Coffee, and Locador. The lemongrass sorbet is creamy, light, and refreshing, paired with the strawberry sheet that added a sweetness to balance the acidity. The black rice pudding dessert is characteristic, reminding me of the local flavors of a ketan hitam dish. But my favorite among the desserts was the Frozen Coffee: a cold caffeine kick on your palate, crafted with local coffee sourced from a roastery at Garut. The dinner is then concluded with the Locador, which Chef Ardika said to have drawn inspiration from Pierre Hermes’ Macador; it is a choux with chocolate cream 70%  and Tabanan lemon curd to offset the bitterness from the chocolate.

The dining menu at August is seasonal, introducing a new menu every six months. What I experienced tonight through their elaborate multi-course tasting menu left me wondering for more, anticipating what August will serve next in their upcoming season. “Dining out in Jakarta is a part of the lifestyle,” said Budi as the dinner concluded, “But here in August, we want to give them memories. We want to give them memories through the experience and make them feel special dining here. We want August to be a place where great memories are created.”

August Restaurant

Sequis Tower – Ground Floor #03-02, Jl. Jenderal Sudirman No.Kav. 71, Jakarta, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 12190

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