Fast & Fine

Value-con­scious mil­len­ni­als dom­i­nate the fine-ca­sual din­ing seg­ment in Jakarta and Bali. Eve Tedja sin­gles out the ma­jor F&B play­ers on the scene.

Epicure - - BEST OF INDONESIA -

It’s Fri­day night and Plaza In­done­sia at the heart of Jakarta’s Bun­daran Ho­tel In­done­sia is swarmed with beau­ti­fully clad rev­ellers and chilled-out of­fice ex­ec­u­tives. All of them are ea­ger to wel­come the week­end and make sure that their evening is worth the time that they have spent nav­i­gat­ing the city’s no­to­ri­ous traf­fic. Long queues started to form in front of the swanky mall’s pop­u­lar res­tau­rants, in­clud­ing Mother Mon­ster.

With a catchy tagline of ‘Mother by day, Mon­ster by night’, the restau­rant is sep­a­rated into four dif­fer­ent ar­eas to cater to dif­fer­ent cus­tomers: a café with cof­fee and a tempt­ing dis­play of cakes at the front; a sal­mon pink din­ing area; an ad­join­ing con­trast­ing dark bar with well-stocked spir­its in the mid­dle; and a semi open-air din­ing area at the back. Led by In­done­sia’s ris­ing chef Glo­ria Susin­dra whose work ex­pe­ri­ence in­cluded a stint at Nancy Oakes’ Boule­vard, San Fran­cisco, Mother Mon­ster fea­tures mod­ern Amer­i­can and com­fort­ing In­done­sian dishes with a twist. Be it a bowl of Sal­mon Dy­na­mite or a De­con­structed Ti­ramisu, Susin­dra and her team pre­pare the dishes in the same metic­u­lous way a mother would for a week­end fam­ily feast.

Fine-ca­sual din­ing here to stay

Mother Mon­ster is one of many din­ing es­tab­lish­ments un­der the Biko Group, whose port­fo­lio in­cludes LOLA - Espíritu y Libación and Pao Pao Liquor Bar & Dim­sum Parlour. It of­fers fine-ca­sual din­ing ex­pe­ri­ences to the city’s young, mid- to high-level in­come earn­ers who opt to so­cialise over food and dine out on daily ba­sis. Fast fine din­ing res­tau­rants can be de­fined as an ex­pe­ri­ence that ditches the strug­gle for reser­va­tions, com­pli­cated menus, for­mal am­bi­ence, long wait for food, and hefty bills. In­stead, it of­fers cus­tomers gourmet fare in a more re­laxed man­ner while main­tain­ing an af­ford­able price point. In a densely pop­u­lated city like Jakarta, this con­fig­u­ra­tion def­i­nitely makes sense.

This trend ben­e­fits restau­rant own­ers as well. Quicker turnover, ef­fi­cient op­er­a­tions and op­por­tu­ni­ties to ex­per­i­ment with new ideas or menu are some of the perks. With lower labour costs than most Western coun­tries, In­done­sia’s restau­ra­teurs and chefs have the flex­i­bil­ity to pur­sue their gas­tro­nomic en­deav­ours, be it cur­ing their own meat in-house or bak­ing their own sour­dough breads on top of run­ning a full-fledged kitchen.

Since he co-founded Biko Group with Freggy Yo­hanes Ef­fendy and Agung Prayudi in 2012, Mikael Mir­dad has been un­stop­pable in his pur­suit of “cre­at­ing funky places that make peo­ple happy”, as he puts it. Through good food, friendly ser­vice, catchy playlists, off­beat lo­ca­tions, and an ex­u­ber­ant mil­len­nial cus­tomer base, Biko Group has grown into seven out­lets and count­ing. “We don’t want to re­peat a con­cept. If there’s a com­mon trait in all of our es­tab­lish­ments, be it a bar or a restau­rant, it has to be a place where peo­ple can have a good time. Our pa­trons have to be hap­pier when they leave our prop­erty,” states Mir­dad.

An­other fresh ap­proach to fine-ca­sual din­ing can also be found at VIN+. With more than 10 years of ex­pe­ri­ence, VIN+ is one of the first names in mind when Jakarta’s oneophiles want to dine out. Owned by a wine im­porter hold­ing com­pany, it comes as no sur­prise that VIN+ claims to have 18,658 bot­tles and count­ing in their in­ven­tory. At the moment, VIN+ has six out­lets in Jakarta and Bali; each of them show­cases the group’s mag­nif­i­cent wine col­lec­tion for re­tail and pas­sion for fine food. Ev­ery out­let also has a ded­i­cated wine but­ler to of­fer rec­om­men­da­tion on wine and food pair­ings.

“VIN+ started off as a wine re­tailer and by fo­cus­ing even more on pro­vid­ing good food and nice am­bi­ence, we are trans­form­ing to be­come a pur­veyor of din­ing in style,” ex­plains Je­fry Budi Mar­dianto, gen­eral man­ager of VIN+ Se­nayan and the group’s busi­ness de­vel­op­ment man­ager. With two tal­ented chefs, Djoko Suwarno and Deni Su­gia­rto, VIN+ con­stantly looks for ways to cater to dif­fer­ent mar­kets at their sep­a­rate out­lets.

VIN+ Ke­mang, for ex­am­ple, is a ca­sual all-day din­ing out­fit cater­ing to a wide seg­ment of cus­tomers. Mean­while, VIN+ Se­nayan is the place to be for busi­ness ex­ec­u­tives look­ing to un­wind after work or build re­la­tions with their clients. With a com­pre­hen­sive in­ter­na­tional menu – from pan-seared foie gras to prawn ravi­oli to pre­mium meat of­fer­ings, each VIN+ serves up dif­fer­ent sig­na­ture dishes. “Red wines are pop­u­lar in Jakarta, while we see a grow­ing de­mand for white wines and par­tic­u­larly rosé in Bali. There­fore, we opened a spe­cial sum­mer bar at VIN+ Seminyak,” says Mar­dianto. Pretty in pink, The Rosé So­cial at VIN+

Seminyak is the crowd favourite with its wide of­fer­ing of se­lected rosé wines and French-in­spired tapas. This at­ten­tion to mar­ket de­mand and egal­i­tar­ian ef­forts in chang­ing the no­tion of wine drink­ing as some­thing ex­clu­sive and there­fore elu­sive, have made VIN+ a brand name in Jakarta and Bali’s fine-ca­sual din­ing scene.

More com­pe­ti­tion, more choices

Mean­while, 6,000km away, In­done­sia’s top hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a dif­fer­ent growth of fine-ca­sual din­ing. Bali has al­ways been at­tract­ing the at­ten­tion of in­ter­na­tional restau­ra­teurs and chefs. With five mil­lion global visi­tors per year, tourism and F&B busi­nesses are closely en­twined and have the po­ten­tial to be ex­tremely lu­cra­tive – if one can make it past the fierce com­pe­ti­tion in Bali’s busiest tourist spots, such as Seminyak or Ubud.

When LACALACA Cantina Mex­i­cana opened its doors in 2012, Seminyak was on its sure way to be­come the hottest neigh­bour­hood to dine, drink and party. Mex­i­can cui­sine, how­ever, was non-ex­is­tent, an ob­ser­va­tion by Will Love­joy which de­vel­oped into an idea to build a restau­rant in Bali. Ade­laide by ori­gin, Love­joy’s hall­mark restau­rant-cum-bar suc­cess­fully cap­tured the am­bi­ence of be­ing at an open-air Mex­i­can fonda, adorned with cac­tus and cheer­fully coloured fur­ni­ture that greets hola warmly. Love­joy’s per­fect sense of tim­ing and lo­ca­tion scout­ing led to Laca­long­time group’s sec­ond restau­rant,

LACALITA Bar y Cocina in Canggu. The sur­round­ing area was still sleepy when the restau­rant opened in 2014 and brought their jalapeño in­fused te­quila siesta into town. Skil­fully com­bin­ing Mex­i­can clas­sics such as the Red Mole Beef Cheek with crowd-pleas­ing que­sadil­las, the restau­rant is recog­nised as of­fer­ing the best Mex­i­can fare in Bali.

“What is fine din­ing any­way? We put the same ex­tra ef­fort in ev­ery lit­tle thing that we do. We make our own salsa, source the fresh­est in­gre­di­ents, and train our staff to take care of guests at­ten­tively. I firmly be­lieve that good food should be ac­ces­si­ble to more peo­ple,” says Love­joy at the re­cently opened LACASITA Fonda Mex­i­cana. Em­brac­ing Ubud’s in­creas­ing mil­len­nial visi­tors who al­ways seek some­thing ex­cit­ing, dig­i­tal nomads and cos­mopoli­tan glo­be­trot­ters, the Ubud out­let fo­cuses on au­then­tic Mex­i­can fare, such as the seafood cock­tail Vuelve a la Vida and Ce­viche Cla­sico with tasty ti­gre le leche sauce as well as ve­gan friendly dishes. Adapt­abil­ity and con­sis­tency have def­i­nitely been the keys to Laca­long­time’s suc­cess for the last six years.

Shy from cel­e­brat­ing its first an­niver­sary, Folie Kitchen & Pâtis­serie is an­other model of fast fine din­ing in the heart of Canggu. Shy from cel­e­brat­ing its first an­niver­sary, Folie Kitchen & Pâtis­serie is an­other model of fast fine din­ing in the heart of Canggu. Led by chef Stephane Si­mond and backed by his vast ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing at Miche­lin­starred es­tab­lish­ments, such as Auberge La­mar­tine and Re­laix and Cha­teux’s Hô­tel Le Toiny in St. Barts, the all-day din­ing restau­rant caters to a wide mar­ket with its bistron­omy con­cept, from the morn­ing crois­sant fa­nat­ics to hol­i­day­ing fam­ily who wanted to in­dulge in 15 Hour Slow Cooked Ba­li­nese Pork Belly with iberico chorizo and Caber­net wine sauce. “Our restau­rant’s prin­ci­ples are to sim­plify the menu, work with sea­sonal pro­duce and make af­ford­abil­ity as a con­sid­er­a­tion,” says Si­mond.

Si­mond is keen to in­tro­duce his sig­na­ture style of mar­ry­ing French tech­niques with Asian flavours to a larger au­di­ence. The next Folie Kitchen & Pâtis­serie opens at the end of the year and will be lo­cated in one of Bali’s pre­mium shop­ping malls. “I think the whole point of fast fine din­ing is to ex­pose more peo­ple to gas­tron­omy, to dare them try­ing some­thing that they have never tried be­fore - and if the mall is the place to do it, then let’s do it,” says Si­mond about his next ven­ture.

Biko Group’s Mother Mon­ster at Plaza In­done­sia

Mother Mon­ster’s Sal­mon Potato Bites VIN+’S Pan Seared Bar­ra­mundi LACALACA’S Que­sadil­las

LACASITA Fonda Mex­i­cana of­fers a vi­brant spot to dine and min­gle in the heart of Ubud. Au­then­tic Mex­i­can fare pre­sented in a mod­ern fash­ion at LACASITA Fonda Mex­i­cana

Stephane Si­mond of Folie Kitchen &Pâtis­serie VIN+ Se­nayan is cater­ing par­tic­u­larly to busi­ness ex­ec­u­tives who love to un­wind and share some fine bot­tles of wine with their col­leagues. Aus­tralian Stock­yard Wagyu Beef “Stroganoff” a la Folie

Djoko Suwarno, one of VIN+ tal­ented chefs

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