“Indonesia captivates me with its vibrant culture. During our journeys, it has dawned on me that there’s a lot to explore,” says Chef Cedric Vongerichten of Vong Kitchen, which his father Jean-Georges and he have unveiled at Alila SCBD hotel. Handayani Tanuwijaya reports.
Hailing from near Strasbourg in Alsace, France, Jean-Georges Vongerichten is one of the world’s top chefs. But his skills extend far beyond the kitchen. A savvy businessman, he is responsible for the success of a number of outstanding restaurants in the United States, the Bahamas, St Barths, Sao Paolo, Shanghai, Hong Kong, London, Paris, Tokyo, Singapore and Dubai.
Now he has extended his empire to Jakarta in the shape of Vong Kitchen, which serves up modern French and American cuisine at Alila SCBD Hotel. He and his son Cedric, 37, who was born in Bangkok and has an Indonesian wife, have spent years conceptualising the much-anticipated 162-seat restaurant, which was designed by Rockwell Group and has a New York grill-style vibe.
Jean-Georges is involved in all aspects of his projects – concept, menu, architectural design, staff selection and training – in an effort to create restaurants that are both timely and enduring. Cedric, meanwhile, established a strong reputation at a young age. He was once named by Zagat in the United States as one of the top 30 chefs under 30.
His father’s kitchen at Lafayette, New York was Cedric’s playground when he was a boy. At the age of 17, he started his culinary journey in the Bahamas. He continued to develop as he travelled around the world and learned his craft at The Berkeley in London, Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong and the iconic El Bulli in Barcelona.
Says Cedric: “Excellence in creating world-class cuisine has always been our focus. I want to use local produce to create quality food consistently, while being inspired by beloved local flavours. My father and I will be serving up the most exemplary dishes to Jakarta’s discerning diners. “It took us about two years to develop Vong Kitchen, from the design to create the right ambience and atmosphere, to create a menu that would showcase fresh local ingredients and put together a strong team. The reason we are opening here is because my wife is from here, and we have travelled many times to Indonesia.
“This country captivates me with its vibrant and diverse culture. During our journeys, it has dawned on me that there is a lot to explore, and I personally love the culture and food. I met some people (now our partners) that were interested to open a restaurant. We both had the same vision and we really liked the location. It was the right decision.
“Vong Kitchen serves modern French and American cuisine, using local ingredients. Rice cracker crusted tuna, burrata with lemon jam, black truffle pizza and fried chicken with corn are all signature dishes. We are bringing a downtown NYC vibe to Jakarta.” Lemongrass, kaffir, ginger, passion fruit, Thai chillies, galangal and turmeric are some of the ingredients important to Chef Cedric. “They have so much aroma and flavour, and it’s hard to get such high quality in NYC,” he explains. “And we love sambals, both to cook and to eat as condiments. When cooking, I keep it simple. It’s all about finding the freshest ingredients.”
To start, Prestige ordered rice cracker crusted tuna (Rp 170,000) and creamy burrata (Rp 220,000). The first dish is served with sriracha-citrus sauce, and the latter with lemon jam. Roasted wild mushrooms with pecorino, pine nuts and sherry vinaigrette is a good vegetarian option at Rp 120,000.
At Rp 180,000 each, main dishes include black truffle pizza with three types of cheese and half-cooked egg and fried chicken with creamed corn, cilantro and hot sauce. Finally, Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s famous molten chocolate cake is available at Vong Kitchen for Rp 110,000 per plate. But that’s not the end of the tasty treats at Alila SCBD. The father-and-son team plan to open a 24-hour eatery, Le Burger, there later this year.
Alila SCBD Hotel
SCBD Lot 11, Jl. Jenderal Sudirman Kav. 52-53
Tel: +6221 5080 8787