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What Chef Eats: Ryan Thejasukmana

What Chef Eats: Ryan Thejasukmana

Danti Tarigan
07 April 2023

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Bartolo Bali's Head Chef, Ryan Thejasukmana shares his favorite places to eat, his go-to for dining in Bali, restaurants that inspire him as a chef, and more.

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The buzzing bistro at Uluwatu, Bartolo, was opened not long ago, yet the restaurant has already become the talk of the town thanks to its exciting take on European-inspired flavors. Leading the kitchen is chef Ryan Thejasukmana, a Lombok native with such passion for food and locality; it even led him to work with local fishermen on the side, providing fresh catch for restaurants around Bali. In addition to Bartolo, the chef is currently gearing up toward opening a new restaurant in Canggu, and if he’s not so busy, catching good bites to eat around Bali in between.

Hi, Chef! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your day-to-day activities?

I am originally from Lombok, and I currently work as the Head Culinary of  Bartolo restaurant in Uluwatu. I will also run the upcoming restaurant that will be opening soon in Canggu name LULU.

In addition, I have a side business as a small-scale fish supplier that does daily catch from around Bali.

How do you describe your cooking style?

I would describe my cooking as “humble cooking.” I like to really go back to classic cooking with flawless execution and thoughtfully use produce that is driven around what we have here at the moment.

What do you like the most about being a chef?

I always love to connect with people who have a deep connection with food and culture. Working as a chef and working in a hospitality business really opened up opportunities for me to do so, especially here in Bali.

For you, what makes a perfect meal?

A perfect meal for me is a  meal that I share with my wife, Vonny, hahaha. We love to do begibung (a tradition of sharing food on one plate and eating them together). Vonny and I are really, really picky eaters, and sometimes it would take us hours just to choose what to eat. But thankfully, when we finally decided on one, so far they always turned out memorable.

What are the most unique ingredients you have ever worked with? 

There’s one type of small bamboo shoot from Singaraja which, after being peeled, the size is almost like a small corn. I usually grill them fresh, and they are super-duper good! The small bamboo shoot tastes almost like sweet corn in terms of sweetness, but with its own character of aroma and flavor; which is super interesting.

Is there any food you can eat every day without getting bored?

Yes, Ayam Taliwang! (a spicy Indonesian grilled chicken dish originating from Taliwang, West Nusa Tenggara). Especially the one from ‘Ayam Taliwang IFA’ that is located in front of Pura Mayura, Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara. I can eat it every day. Easily.

What is your favorite home-cooked meal?

I love a simple Japanese set meal with sashimi, fried, or grilled rare fish that I would get from the local fisherman. I would serve it with a bowl of warm rice topped with furikake, shio kombu, egg, and plenty of wasabi.

Did you develop new recipes or discover new types of food you have enjoyed in the recent year?

I really enjoy cooking classic Cantonese food and combining the flavor with the Indo-Chinese influence, using more spices and coconut.

Any recent dining destination that left a good impression? Or maybe a new one that have picked your interest?

I had a great dinner at Oshino at Raffles Singapore when they used products from Japan that were in their peak winter season. It was mind-blowing and humbled me as a chef to respect the product itself more, and focus only on execution and flavor. 

A new restaurant that really excites me is Sezanne (in Tokyo), for sure! Chef Daniel Calvert is truly the magician of his era.

Where are your top three dining places that are always on your favorite list? And which food do you recommend getting at those places?

The first one is the newly opened T&T, run by chef Aldy– their Nasi Campur Babi (Mixed Rice with Pork) is so damn good! The next one is Riung Rasa in Jimbaran for their Nasi Goreng Brisket (Brisket Fried Rice), with an add-on of their sambal rica. I also love Indigo, a Japanese Restaurant in Canggu, for its secret Omakase menu.

Do you have any go-to venues for hanging out with friends or family? 

We always end up choosing Bali Nikmat in Denpasar. The place is spacious, and the service is always fast and consistent. It was the perfect place for having supper: a plate of good fried mantis prawn, salted egg calamari, and a jug of Bintang (beer).

If someone only had a day in Bali, where would you recommend them to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner?

Start from breakfast at Nasi Tekor Sanur, lunch at Warung Jawa Parasari, and then dinner at Fed by Made with their bi-weekly changing menu.

In the past few years, we have seen a lot of unique food trends; which food trend do you like the most and why?

Would it be okay if I talked about a food trend that I really hate instead? Recent food trends that glorify sustainability as their marketing tools–while in reality, they didn’t even know where their product comes from–really annoyed me. And most FnB businesses and customers didn’t actually ​​care about it [sustainability].

I really hope our fellow hospitality business can be the spearhead of the movement in helping our small Indonesia FnB community, whether it’s fellow restaurants, chefs, artisan producers, fishermen, farmers, etc. I think it’s important to be educated about the product you’re using. I hope in the future, we can be more genuine about the information we share [regarding sustainability], and not use it just for the sake of marketing. Otherwise, there will be zero development for our local customer base.

Is there any new plan or project that we could look forward to?

Yes, watch out for our newest venue in Canggu: LULU!

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