Forever in search of good food, Prestige visited six of the most interesting restaurants to open in Jakarta and Bali in the past few months.

Kaum Jakarta


To create the concept for Kaum, Potato Head Family CEO Ronald Akili and his colleagues Executive Chef Antoine Audran and Brand Director Lisa Virgiano explored much of the Indonesian archipelago. They tracked down remote tribal communities and met with independent local producers.

Their aim was to discover as many of the nation’s rare and almost forgotten ingredients and cooking techniques as it was possible for them to find. The name Kaum, which means “clan” or “tribe” in Indonesia, reflects the fact that several hundred ethnicities live in the archipelago.

The first Kaum opened in Hong Kong last year. It was such a success that Akili and his team were soon encouraged to try the concept out in Bali. This year, they have opened Kaum Jakarta, in leafy Menteng. “We plan to open Kaum restaurants in other several countries,” says Lisa. “We want to introduce Indonesia’s culinary heritage to the world.”

The menu at Kaum places a fundamental focus on traditional Indonesian dishes, with the chefs using high-quality produce and ingredients supplied by small-scale farmers. The restaurant features organic Menthik Susu rice from Magelang, Central Java and sea salt from Amed, Bali. All dishes are cooked with local coconut oil.

“Kaum Jakarta is inspired by the good old days, as it housed in a historic colonial house,” says Lisa. “We set out to create an atmosphere that was as comfortable as possible. It feels like you’re eating in your own home. We’re also serving the food in large sharing portions for families and groups of friends.”

The 150-seat eatery consists of two buildings: the house (50 seats), complete with a spice garden and a porch at the front, and the main dining hall (100 seats) featuring Dayak-motif wall panels and Kroncong music. Among the starters is Maluku’s gohu ikan tuna (Rp 78,000), fresh tuna marinated in coconut oil, calamansi juice, belimbing, kenari nuts and ginseng leaves.

The main courses include ikan bakar sambal dabu-dabu (Rp 120,000), originating from Manado, North Sulawesi, and sate sapi wagyu maranggi (Rp 130,000) from Purwakarta, West Java. A choice of sambals at Rp 75,000 per portion includes ikan asin, kluwek, matah and rica-rica.

Jl. Dr. Kusuma Atmaja No. 77 – 79, Menteng, Jakarta Pusat | +62 813 8171 5256 or +62 21 22393256 | kaum.com

AB Steak by Chef Akira Back


Chef Akira Back has spent some time developing an innovative steakhouse concept – and he has chosen Jakarta as the first city in which to open an AB Steak By Chef Akira Back restaurant. The new 72-seat eatery, to be found at the mezzanine level of MD Place, builds upon the success of the 144-seat Akira Back restaurant, which opened on the top floor of the building in 2014.

Born in Korea and raised in Aspen, Colorado, Chef Back launched Kumi Japanese Restaurant + Bar at Mandalay Bay and Yellowtail Japanese Restaurant & Lounge at Bellagio Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. In addition to Jakarta, he has opened Akira Back restaurants in Seoul, Bangkok, Dubai and New Delhi. The concept of Akira Back restaurants is Japanese cuisine prepared with a Korean accent, derived from seasonal produce and artisanal sourced ingredients. Beverages include sake, wines and speciality cocktails. 

At AB Steak, the idea is to create a “revolutionary American-style steakhouse with Korean flair” serving house-aged premium meat. One of the most striking features of AB Steak Jakarta is its dry aged room, located near the entrance. The room is glass-walled so that diners can view the meat and the dry-aging process. “We mostly serve 200-day grain-fed Australian beef says Corporate Chef Andri Dionysius, who has worked with Chef Back since 2008. “Our signature is 45-day bone-in ribeye. Now, we’re in the process of making whisky-aged meat. We wrap the ribeye in whisky-soaked cheesecloth and let it dry for 60 days.”

Among the starters are scallop crudo (Rp 135,000) and amberjack carpaccio (Rp 195,000). Each table at AB Steak boasts charcoal and gas grills. The server will bring 45-day bone-in ribeye (Rp 199,000 per 100gr, with the minimum order being 300gr), add some apple wood chips to the grill and cook the steak at the table. Also on the menu is Australian Wagyu 9+ flat iron (Rp 245,000 per 100g). Condiment choices include five kinds of homemade salt: truffle, Himalayan, garlic, yuja and kimchi. There are five sauce selections: sesame oil with sea salt and black pepper, ssamjang, bulgogi, soy and grated wasabi, and chimichurri.

MD Place Mezzanine Level, Jl. Setiabudi Selatan no 7, Kuningan 12910, Jakarta | +62 877 7227 8325 / +62 21 296 69272 | absteakjakarta.com

Roemah Toean Pe


“I opened this restaurant because of my love for the food my grandmother used to cook,” Patrick Widjaja explains. “I grew up with this food. Even though I was born and raised in Germany, Indonesian cuisine still exudes a feeling of home for me. That’s why the interior and ambience of Roemah Toean Pe are old school. I wanted to create a cosy dining atmosphere. There’s no better way to let guests experience that than by making them feel like they’re dining at home.”

Roemah Toean Pe, a 100-seat Indonesian-Chinese fusion eatery, is to be found in Kemang, right next to Widjaja’s Die Stube, a restaurant and bar that has been a firm favourite among German-food lovers here for years. Widjaja’s latest restaurant opened last December. It is open for lunch and dinner, and is family-oriented.

“It has been my dream to open an Indonesian restaurant, and it’s nice to balance both sides of my heritage next to each other,” says the restaurateur. “I plan to bring in jazz bands to play on the stage, so that diners can really enjoy their time while eating and at the same time feel they are being transported back into the past.”

Among the appetisers at Roemah Toean Pe is Asinan Jakarta (Rp 50,000), a salty vegetable dish with Chinese cabbage, bean sprouts, tofu and lettuce, and mixed dim sum (Rp 75,000). Main dishes include kodok batu goreng mentega (Rp 125,000), a dish of stir-fried frog legs; burung dara goreng (Rp 90,000), stir-fried pigeon breast; and foe yoeng haii kepiting (Rp 70,000), omelette with crab meat, carrots, bean sprouts and cabbage served in a sweet and sour sauce with peas. A large dish perfect for sharing, gurame asam manis (Rp 120,000) is carp in a sweet and sour sauce.

Plaza Bisnis Kemang 1, Jl. Kemang Raya No. 2 South Jakarta 12730 | Tel: +62-21 718 3417

Spice by Chris Salans, Sanur


“This is a concept that didn’t exist in Bali before,” asserts the culinary master behind Spice by Chris Salans. “It’s a gastrobar where the line between the guests and the chefs and the bartenders disappears. Guests sit at the kitchen/bar counter watching and interacting with the staff while their dishes and cocktails are being prepared, allowing diners to discover all the local Indonesian produce that is used at Spice. It’s fun, interactive and a new way to enjoy flavours.”

Chef Salans’ Mozaic, located in Ubud, is the first restaurant in Southeast Asia to be recognised by the prestigious Traditions et Qualité association as a member of Les Grande Tables Du Monde. His Spice by hris Salans is a much less formal eatery, designed as a favoured hangout for hipsters and foodies. The branch in Sanur, which opened last September, offers good food in a relaxed yet vibrant atmosphere. Its inception is a result of popular demand following the success of the first Spice in Ubud. A third branch will soon open in Seminyak.

All ingredients are locally sourced, with an emphasis on the healing properties of Indonesia’s aromatic roots, herbs and spices. The cuisine combines the humble and the precious, as in slipper lobster with curry-leaf butter and tempé, or snapper carpaccio with tamarind croutons and rujak. The cocktails are built round fresh ingredients, whole spices, and fine imported spirits. Here chef and mixologist collaborate on designing bespoke cocktails that pair with particular dishes.

“My philosophy is to respect the environment in which I live and to try to glorify it as much as possible,” says Chef Salans. “I live in Bali, and my cuisine must reflect this. In my restaurants, whether at Mozaic or at Spice, everything is about local seasonal ingredients – kluwek nut, torch ginger flower, belimbing wuluh and so on. The food must be a showcase for these wonderful products.”

Jl. Danau Tamblingan No.140, Sanur, Denpasar Sel., Kota Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia | Tel: +62 361 449 0411 | spicebali.com

Seasalt


Bali’s latest seafood restaurant, Seasalt, is to be found at one of its most attractive resorts, Alila Seminyak. The 150-seat eatery, which launched last month, is open for lunch and dinner, and is targeted at the public as well as the hotel’s guests. The signature dishes are Nicoise salad (Rp 90.000++), white snapper (Rp 225.000++) and blue swimmer crab (Rp 125.000++).

“It’s a must-visit for foodies on holiday or living in the Seminyak area,” says Alila. “Seasalt is located next to the beach and has a clear ocean view, even from the indoor area. It’s the perfect place to spend time with friends and family while enjoying the food and ocean breezes.

“We have an open-kitchen concept so that guests can interact with our culinary team, and a Chef’s Table programme that’s offered to those who wish to get closer with our chefs while they prepare special dishes. The restaurant also has fast Wi-Fi and valet parking, which are not easy to find in standalone restaurants in Bali.”

The restaurant was designed by URBNarc, which set out to create “an extension of the ocean… that gives diners a feel that one is on a boat. Its layout and materials reflect the colours and waves of the ocean”. The “boat” is “captained” by Chef Vivian Vitalis, who hails from Sabah, East Malaysia.

Beginning his culinary career in 2002 at JW Marriott and The Ritz-Carlton in Kuala Lumpur, he has worked at many leading luxury resorts in Malaysia. “I’m working with neighbouring fishermen and local suppliers, seeking out the finest seafood in the region as well as local produce,” says Chef Vitalis. “Fresh, natural and organic is the essence of my cuisine, allowing the natural flavours of the ingredients to express themselves.

“When you arrive at Seasalt, an artisanal centrepiece will be ready on your table. Our host will come to you, break the sea salt crust. Inside the centrepiece is seaweed wrapping a small portion of mackerel, rilletted butter and mayonnaise to accompany your welcome bread. We call this whole process the Seasalt Ritual. It’s inspired by the question: ‘What’s inside the sea?’”

Alila Seminyak | Jl. Taman Ganesha No. 9, Badung, Bali 80361 | Tel: (62-361) 302 1889 | seasaltseminyak.com

Atico by Javanegra


When Andrea Peresthu founded Javanegra Boutique Coffee Roaster in 2008, he set about harvesting beans from land inter-cropped with rainforest trees and roasting them locally. The idea came to him after travelling in the highlands of Indonesia, as part of his work on an inter-governmental sustainable investment programme. After seeing the land destroyed by illegal loggers, he was able to convince a small minority of farmers to use the land to grow coffee.

Four years later, Peresthu resigned from his assistant professorship in urban and regional development at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and co-founded Javanegra Gourmet Atelier with Reni Alhadad and Aphrodite Firia. Housed in a modest building in Kebayoran Baru, this 25-seat restaurant is a hidden culinary gem where Peresthu, a self-taught chef who has visited some 300 restaurants around the world and has an affinity for Spain and its culture, provides customers with a highly acclaimed private dining experience.

The Javanegra group, meanwhile, has gone from strength to strength. Its fifth restaurant, Atico by Javanegra, is to be found at the top of the 48-storey Menara BTPN in Mega Kuningan. This is a 160-seater eatery offering Mediterranean cuisine, mainly Spanish food. Ingredients are flown in from Japan and Europe. Among the dishes available are angel hair pasta with Hokkaido sea urchin capellini con erizos de mar y caviar (Rp 295,000), jamon Ibérico Bellota reserva (Rp 400,000) and paella marinera de la casa (Rp 800,000). Dessert choices include Baileys cheese cake (Rp 65,000) served with Cortado (Rp 30,000).

The restaurant, which opened last December and is open every day from breakfast time until midnight, has three sections: the main indoor dining room, an outdoor area space where smokers can indulge, and a private dining area for small groups. The “modern eclectic” interior with Indonesian teak wood furniture delivers a warm ambiance.

Floor R Menara BTPN, Lingkar Mega Kuningan, Jl. Dr. Ide Anak Agung Kav. 5.5-5.6, Kuningan, South Jakarta 12950 | Tel: (62-21) 2295 8194 | @aticobyjavanegra