Banjo Tasning, the co-founder of PÒ Noodle Bar, PÒ SupperKlab, and Iron Fist, has always had a profound appreciation for food and its ability to connect people. With a background rooted in Sulawesi traditions, specifically Makassar and Manado, Banjo’s childhood revolved around hearty family meals, where stories were shared and bonds strengthened. From reminiscing about trying the first sambal to recounting a recent trip to Lombok and Sumbawa Island and his endless love for Coto Makassar, Banjo shares his favorite places to eat and offers a sneak peek of his upcoming projects.
Hi! Please tell us a bit about yourself and your day-to-day activities.
My name is Banjo Tasning, co-founder of PÒ Noodle Bar, PÒ SupperKlab, and Iron Fist. On a day-to-day basis, I primarily work on the creative aspects of PÒ’s brand, including marketing and design direction.
What do you love the most about what you do?
For me, it’s about building an emotional connection with our guests. Witnessing our guests enjoy our creations, appreciate our story, and know that we’ve managed to leave certain memories for them is a different kind of high that is very rewarding.
What is your favorite type of cuisine?
My top three would be Indonesian (especially Makassar and Manado), Chinese, and Japanese.
What is your favorite food?
I’m torn; it’s a tie between Coto Makassar and PHO.
Please tell us about your recent memorable food trips.
I went on a cruise with a few friends around the Lombok and Sumbawa Islands a while back. On that trip, our meals depended on what we caught during the day. On one occasion, we didn’t manage to see anything, so we only had rice, sambal, and lalap that we brought on board. We had our meal by the beach on one of the small islands. It was a very simple meal, yet very memorable.
To you, what would make a perfect meal?
Delicious food and good company. I grew up in a big family with strong Sulawesi roots (Makassar and Manado), and mealtime has always been an essential part of our routine, especially during family events. It’s the time for us to catch up and share stories.
What usually draws your attention to a place to eat?
The type of cuisine. I’m a creature of habit, so I tend to just go to my usual place and order the same thing. So, I always ask my friends or family for recommendations before trying new places.
What is your most unforgettable food experience?
My first sambal. I was about 5 or 6 years old, and my Oma cooked this Cakalang Rabe Rica during a family gathering. It was so spicy and hot that I cried my eyes out. I was traumatized by it. Luckily, I got over it, and now I need my sambal, hot sauce, wasabi, and basically any kind of spicy condiments on most of my meals.
What is the most unique or unusual dish you have ever tried, and where did you taste it?
Shirako (fish sperm sacs). I had it when I was visiting Japan.
What is your favorite street food, and where do you usually eat it?
Sop Kaki Kambing Irwan Melawai.
What food could you enjoy daily without getting tired of it?
Coto Makassar or PHO.
Are there specific places you often visit for these dishes?
Daeng Memang for Coto, and for PHO, we usually prepare it at home using a recipe shared by a dear friend who works at the Vietnamese embassy.
What’s your ultimate comfort food, and where do you usually indulge in it?
My comfort food revolves around anything hot and soup-based: Coto, Pho, Hot Pot, Ramen, and La Mian.
Where do you like to hang out with friends or celebrate special family occasions
Lately, I’ve been enjoying Sumi To Kome at Blok M. I find the experience there quite charming, with a notable contrast before and after entering the establishment.
Could you share your favorite local dishes and the go-to places to savor them?
Once again, it’s Coto Makassar at Daeng Memang, hahaha.
Which three dining places always hold a spot on your favorites list, and what dishes would you recommend from them?
- Tori Sei at Little Tokyo, Blok M: Try the Yakitori set.
- Daeng Memang at Ampera: Don’t miss the Coto Makassar (both daging and lidah) and buras.
- Imperial Shanghai Lamian and Xia Long Bao: The Deep Fried Chicken with Fresh Chilli and La Mian with Sliced Beef in Chilli Oil are must-tries.
Are there any exciting upcoming projects in the pipeline for you?
Indeed, as PÒ Noodle Bar’s journey is coming to a close, we’re venturing beyond noodles and exploring diverse Asian cuisine. Our new project, still in its early stages, is centered around a modern, vibrant Asian kitchen and bar concept. We’re also planning something in Bandung and exploring opportunities to expand to other cities.