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What Foodies Eat: Aga Alvian

What Foodies Eat: Aga Alvian

Nisya Kunto
09 October 2021


In this edition of What Foodies Eat, we caught up with Aga Alvian. Head chef at UNION by The Union Group and Founder of PHÖ-ME.


Chef Aga helms the kitchen of UNION by The Union Group, which runs seven outlets around Jakarta. Aside from his day-to-day life at the kitchen, Chef Aga has taken up a side hustle dealing the Vietnamese traditional dish, PHÖ-ME!

Would you share with us how you started the business, and a few favorite items from the menu? 

I started PHÖ-ME because during the strict PPKM period, most of my friends who were in Bali raved about this Pho restaurant. It is the best Pho in Bali — I frequented the restaurant back when I was living in Bali as it was near my house.

Then I thought about how there aren’t many decent pho to choose from in Jakarta, so I decided to make my own. I cooked up the soup pho and sent it to my friends for feedback. After some tryouts, I was confident enough to open a pre-order system for the pho. 

Luckily, around the same time, a friend of mine had an empty kitchen I can utilize to produce more pho. I took the opportunity to increase my sales, and we catered to three POs in a week. After a month, we added dry pho to the menu – inspired by the Indonesian dish of bakmi, with some personal touches, of course.

Moving on to what you like to eat, is there any particular food and drink that you miss during the dining-out restrictions?

Not particularly, as we still can have them delivered to home.  My go-to orders would be Pokenbir’s Roasted Crispy Pork, Martabak Sinar Bulan Muara Karang, and Sate Padang Ajo Ramon Santa.

Do you have a favorite restaurant – special occasions fine dining and for more casual dining? 

Union is definitely a place to hang out and mingle with friends with good cocktails. I love Pantja’s food too, it’s tasty and comforting. Cork and Screw Country Club also has a nice ambience.

Where would you go if you had to meet up with old friends for food?

Union Plaza Senayan, definitely.

If you have visitors from abroad/out of Jakarta, where do you take them to give a genuine taste of Indonesia? 

Bakmi hunting in Glodok, street food in Jalan Sabang or to Cikini. 

What are your favorite local dishes and where do you go to eat them? 

Ikan Bakar Cianjur for a family feast, or to Kaum Jakarta, as I love the ambience, the food, the stories of their travels and how they bring their inspiration to Jakarta. 

If the pandemic suddenly disappears, where would you go for your first big meal? 

My first destination would be to visit the fresh seafood market around Pluit, and enjoy some super-fresh seafood!

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