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What Foodies Eat: Laksmi De Neefe Suardana

What Foodies Eat: Laksmi De Neefe Suardana

Auli Cinantya
10 March 2023

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Laksmi De Neefe Suardana, Puteri Indonesia 2022 and Miss Universe 2022 contestant, shared her favorite comfort food her three must-visit dining places in Bali, and reminisced about her most unforgettable food experience.

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Laksmi De Neefe Suardana is the current Puteri Indonesia 2022 and Miss Universe 2022 contestant. Born and raised in Ubud, Laksmi’s family runs a few restaurants. Aside from being a food enthusiast, her  daily activities revolve around promoting literacy, advocating for Indonesian culture, serving as a role model to young women nationwide, and being a speaker. Despite being a beauty queen, she also has a strong passion for empowering young women.

What is your favorite type of cuisine?
Although I enjoy different types of cuisine, I particularly love simple home-cooked Indonesian food, Japanese, and French cuisine.

What is your favorite food?
I adore simple, nourishing, and delicious food. My favorites include rice, chocolate, fruits, bread, and butter. I appreciate dishes made with high-quality produce. For instance, a beautiful bowl of chirashi sushi from the Japanese market, scrambled eggs from the chickens in my garden, home-cooked tempe with fragrant white rice, freshly baked Sourdough from my family’s bakery in Ubud with grass-fed butter, or a decadent chocolate fondant or lava cake.

Do you have any memorable food trips?
Yes, I have had many memorable food trips, both good and bad! My family is foodies, so we always prioritize trying the best places to eat when we travel. Some of my most memorable food trips are within Indonesia, but there’s not one place in particular. Discovering the diversity of food in terms of flavors, cooking methods, and ingredients have always left a lasting impression on me. The most memorable foods are the most unique to me, such as trying papeda in Flores for the first time, having curry with steamed bananas in Ambon, seeing how authentic teh tarik is being made in Aceh, Es Dawet in Solo, and many more. As Puteri Indonesia, I get to travel the country and try a diverse range of dishes. In the future, I hope to travel around Indonesia to document and share more culinary experiences with everyone. Currently, I am thinking about the delicious Gudeg Lumintu in Jember.

To you, what would make a perfect meal?
For me, the perfect meal would not be complete without the perfect company.

What usually draws your attention to a place to eat?
The stories I hear about that place are what usually attract me to visit.

What do you look for in street food?
When it comes to street food, I look for authentic flavors and dynamic vibes.

What is your go-to comfort food, and where do you usually get them?
As for my go-to comfort food, I love a good Brazilian acai bowl. It’s a treat! I like to try different acai shops when I travel, and recently I almost tried all of them in New York. So far, the best one is in Ubud, Acai Queen. And for chocolate lava cake, I usually order it from any good restaurant.

What is the most unforgettable food experience you have had?
One of my most unforgettable food experiences was having lunch at Osteria Francescana in Modena a couple of years ago for my birthday. It was the longest lunch I’ve ever had, lasting around four hours, and at the end, I got to meet Massimo Bottura himself.

Is there any specific dining place or cuisine you’ve been wanting to try?
I have had a lot of Thai and Japanese food before, but I haven’t been to Thailand or Japan yet, so I really want to go. For a dish, I’ve been wanting to try Na Niura when I visited Lake Toba, but to this day, I still haven’t tried it. I also want to try the new restaurant by chef Wayan called Home, and many other new places that are bringing new experiences to Indonesian cuisine.

What is your favorite street food, and where do you usually eat it?
I absolutely love Indonesian street food; it’s the best! You can get a great variety of flavor profiles and textures. Usually, the vendors have been making and perfecting the food for years, even generations. I love tipak cantok and rujak in Bali, and you really can’t go wrong with sate with lontong. Recently, I had an old-school classic es campur with real secang syrup, and it was so delicious and nostalgic.

Where are your top three dining places that are always on your favorite list?
The first one is Skool. I recommend their charred strawberries. Next is Casa Luna, where their Nasi Campur and cakes are not to be missed. Lastly, at Pica, I recommend trying their ceviche and tres leches cake.

Is there any food you can eat every day without getting bored?
While it might sound boring, I love fruits so much that I can eat them every day. I also can’t go without coffee, and although it’s not food, it’s pretty hard for me to not have a latte. I wish I could eat a pastry every day, but unfortunately, I can’t.

Do you have any place you frequently go to for it? 
Not in Jakarta, but in Ubud, I usually go to Casa Luna for my morning coffee and breakfast. If Levant Boulangerie was closer, I would visit it more often.

Do you have any memorable food experiences?
Recently, I tried Awan, an Indonesian-inspired “ice cream” in Los Angeles, and it really lived up to its name, which means cloud, as it was the creamiest and most delicious coconut-based gelato I’ve ever tasted. It’s memorable because I haven’t had anything like it before. It’s made from Indonesian coconut cream and coconut water, with flavors using vanilla beans from Bali, sea salt, gula jawa, blue magik spirulina, and more.

Where do you usually hang out with friends or go for special occasions with family?
We always try new places! There are so many places to hang out in Bali or Jakarta, old and new. But I prefer places with a relaxed atmosphere and good food.

What are your favorite local dishes, and where do you usually go to eat them?
I don’t have one favorite local dish. In Bali, I usually eat at home and enjoy home-style Indonesian food such as tempe, sop buntut, and lidah sapi sambal ijo, to name a few. But in Jakarta, I’m still exploring and haven’t found my go-to places yet.

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