What to do in Kyiv

Kyiv Post - - Front Page - WITH BERMET TALANT T [email protected]

Ve­lyka Va­sylkivska is one of the busiest din­ing streets in Kyiv, with cof­fee shops and Ge­or­gian, Per­sian, Peru­vian, Ital­ian, In­dian, Crimean Tatar and Viet­namese restau­rants. This di­verse gas­tro­nomic as­sem­blage re­cently wel­comed a new ad­di­tion called 17.804 In­done­sian So­cial Kitchen.

Al­though some In­done­sian dishes can be found in panAsian restau­rants around the city, In­done­sia’s rich cui­sine re­mains lit­tle known in Ukraine.

But Ukraini­ans are open to new things, says one of 17.804’s two founders, Olek­siy Kykot. He and his busi­ness part­ner, Eko Koe­sprananto, a Jakarta na­tive in charge of the kitchen, met at work at the Hy­att Re­gency Kyiv a year ago.

By that time, Chef Koe­sprananto, 38, had spent more than a decade work­ing at ho­tels in Kyiv, Bei­jing and Is­tan­bul. And Kykot, 31, had just moved back to Ukraine af­ter nine years of hon­ing his restau­rant man­age­ment skills in China.

Both wanted to start their own busi­ness and fi­nally opted for an In­done­sian restau­rant. Un­til April there had not been one.

The In­done­sian com­mu­nity in Ukraine is tiny: 98 na­tion­als, mostly in Kyiv, in­clud­ing the em­bassy staff and their fam­i­lies.

So far 17.804 has at­tracted a clien­tele of ex­pats and lo­cals ac­quainted with the In­done­sian food but the own­ers want to in­tro­duce it to a new, wider au­di­ence.

With this idea in mind, Koe­sprananto picked the sig­na­ture dishes that “ev­ery In­done­sian knows and eats in a daily life.”

Nasi goreng is a hand­ful of fried rice topped with an oval of a fried egg and served with chicken skew­ers in peanut sauce. Prawn crack­ers and a lit­tle bowl of pick­led veg­eta­bles go on the side. “What makes it dif­fer­ent from any other fried rice is a com­bi­na­tion of sam­bal, a spicy chili sauce, and ke­cap, sweet soy sauce,” ex­plains the chef. You can also get a noo­dle ver­sion of the dish called mie goreng.

Pastes and sauces are at the

core of the In­done­sian cui­sine turn­ing a plate of sta­ples — meat, rice, noo­dles, fish— into a sapid com­plete dish.

At 17.804, chef Koe­sprananto makes al­most all sea­son­ings him­self mix­ing fresh herbs and spices. Eight es­sen­tial condi­ments can be com­bined to cre­ate a va­ri­ety of new fla­vors.

Koe­sprananto’s wife, Dewi, helps with cook­ing. To hes­i­tant cus­tomers, she rec­om­mends spicy grilled fish -pepes ikan of western Java. First, the fish is steamed with a mix of to­ma­toes, spring onions, basil, and chili; then grilled and served on a ba­nana leaf with a tan­gle of thin veg­etable strips and some rice to bal­ance out the heat.

In the dessert sec­tion, the chef makes bubur ke­tan hi­tam, a black rice pud­ding with co­conut milk, to sat­isfy a sweet tooth.

The din­ing room seats up to 48 peo­ple. Ad­di­tion­ally, there are a few ta­bles out­side. But noise from cars speed­ing down the cob­ble­stoned street makes it hard to en­joy a con­ver­sa­tion.

In­side, the de­sign re­mains un­changed from the Rambu­tan fruit shop and bar which closed at the start of the year. Koe­sprananto and Kykot, how­ever, in­cluded some eth­nic el­e­ments that add na­tional color but keep the place cos­mopoli­tan.

One of the largest walls is cov­ered with a flower or­na­ment — a kawung mo­tif seen on a tra­di­tional In­done­sian fab­ric called batik. On an­other wall hangs an ea­gle — garuda — the na­tional em­blem of In­done­sia.

A num­ber of black-and-white pho­to­graphs above the bar counter de­pict ev­ery­day life in dif­fer­ent parts of In­done­sia, a coun­try made up of thou­sands of vol­canic is­lands. Sources vary on the ex­act num­ber of the is­lands, but the founders claim it is 17,804 — hence the in­spi­ra­tion for the restau­rant's name.

Just two months af­ter open­ing, 17.804 In­done­sian So­cial Kitchen was nom­i­nated for Ukraine’s na­tional restau­rant award Salt in the best eth­nic cui­sine cat­e­gory.

The list of nom­i­nees re­flects the pref­er­ences of Kyi­vans: two Viet­namese restau­rants Tin-Tin and Chang; two Chi­nese ones, Bao and Ki­tayskiy Privet; Ja­panese Fu­ji­wara Yoshi; Ge­or­gian Shoti as well as Ital­ian and French restau­rants in Odesa and Lviv, re­spec­tively.

“Our ri­vals are well-es­tab­lished and known restau­rants," Koe­sprananto said. "We don’t ex­pect to win but be­ing nom­i­nated is al­ready a suc­cess for us.”

(Photo by Oleg Pe­tra­siuk)

In­done­sian chef Eko Koe­sprananto (L) shows off a dragon-shaped board for con­gkak, a tra­di­tional In­done­sian game, which he uses for var­i­ous spices. He and his busi­ness part­ner Olek­siy Kykot opened their first restau­rant, 17.804 In­done­sian So­cial Kitchen, in Kyiv in April.

(Photo by Oleg Pe­tra­siuk)

Soto ayam is an In­done­sian chicken soup with noo­dles.

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