All posts by Rian Farisa

Rian Farisa stars himself in a flick about how a culinary correspondent living a life full of adventures as if he will live forever. At the end of the day, he lives to retell the chronicles of his swashbuckling daring gastronomic adventures like a bard singing his tales of beautiful faraway lands. Since gastronomy consists of complex aspects and that is where his passion lies, he decided to unravel how businessmen, hawkers and luxurious restaurants alike, serve their dishes for the patrons. Whether they only serve for the advantages in taste or only the surroundings or whether they really throw anything for the sake of customer's satisfaction, he shall be solely the only one who can tell and in the name of this noble profession, justice shall be done!

A Foodie’s Life: Rahung (The Foodie Magazine, July 2014)

What people will see from Rahung would make them think instantly that this guy is perhaps an activist or somebody who is too fond of tattoo, but certainly they will never knew that one of the ultimate joys of his life is cooking.

While it’s true that he’s a tattoo aficionado, Rahung is actually also a guy who is straightforward about his feeling with anything tribal, political, environmental, and cultural in this country.

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“Perhaps it was because I befriended activists, NGO people, and living in Timor Leste for six years. I fell in love so much with this country and would like to know more about the tradition behind all those tribes that built Indonesia”, curiously he said. That’s also why he decided to learn more about the audio visual world and now he becomes an adept videographer.

“I’ve had my share of time working behind the desk doing all sorts of video editing, but I cannot stand idly sitting around doing menial jobs. I’d like to also explore and share my experience with others”, said Rahung. Together with his friends, they started The Tribal Project that brings them to explore the depths of Indonesia and to create documentary videos, storytelling their rich culinary culture visually.

“We quickly immerse ourselves with the traditional lives of the people we met in Mentawai where we walked for two days long to find them, or within the depths of Kalimantan with Dayaknese Iban tribe where we took a 16 hours bus ride just to get there, or when we learn to cook interesting Torajan dish with the natives”, Rahung explained his job excitingly.

Furthermore, meeting up with ACMI people and synergizing with them confirm his ultimate wish to promote the undiscovered part of Indonesia. They often hang around together to discuss anything about food, creating food events, and going to traditional markets together whenever he’s in Jakarta.

When asked how did he started his fondness with cooking, Rahung simply answered that it’s what his mother taught him and that it became his hobby since he’s still little. “I remember the time when I was in junior high. Since my parents return home late from our paddy fields, I usually cooked for my family the traditional Bataknese dinners”, he reminisced.

His cooking habit continues until this day and he often shares it with his friends. Being a proud Bataknese, he usually cooks arsik by using any ingredients he found in traditional markets – from bamboo shoots, ferns, and mostly carp fish. Aside from cooking Bataknese dishes, he admitted nonetheless that he’s fascinated other cuisines as well, especially with the cooking techniques he found in traditional tribes that utilizes only simple ingredients but resulted in a dish so full of flavor and aroma.

Curious about his tattoo, we asked about what made him decided to tattoo his whole body. Rahung answered, “It’s all about my personal political statement”. Mostly his tattoos are originated from Papuan, Dayaknese, and Bataknese designs and mainly he sympathizes with the struggle of Papuan people. That’s why he braved himself by tattooing his face.

“Even though the Papuans live on a land blessed with rich natural sources, they’re simply forgotten and treated badly. My tattoo here is a statement of my empathy with them. I let the whole world know that I will forever be a part of them, as fellow Indonesians!” exclaimed Rahung.

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Featured in THE FOODIE MAGAZINE July 2014 edition

Download it for free here via SCOOP!

Photography: Dennie Benedict

Iconic: Gado Gado Bonbin (The Foodie Magazine, Sept 2014)

Probably only a handful of the young generation know that Jakarta’s zoo used to be at the present day Taman Ismail Marzuki and that the streets of the neighborhood, on its opposite side, was once called Jalan Kebon Binatang (or literally, Zoo Street). The neighborhood itself harbors interesting eateries that, in time, we will reveal for you our benevolent readers, but certainly we can always start with one of the oldest – the Gado-Gado Bonbin.

As we all know, the peanut sauce plays a highly important role in many genuine Indonesian dishes and gado-gado is among that owes a lot to the silky, rich flavors of this dressing. It’s easy to find generic gadogado on street vendors and even five star establishments proudly offer this traditional Betawi cuisine for their customers. But of course, one must strive to be different if they want to be recognized.

With a recipe that has stood proud for the last five decades, Gado Gado Bonbin’s version is perhaps among the best in Jakarta. Why the name ‘Bonbin’ you might ask? Of course, because it’s a portmanteau of Kebon Binatang, the name of the street where it resides on before it got renamed Jalan Cikini after the zoo was moved to Ragunan. The owner said that back then, the portmanteau has, somehow, a good vibe in it and that the teenagers in those days used this word a lot.

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But let us return back to the food. For the dressing, Gado-Gado Bonbin chooses to roast the peanuts rather than frying it, thus avoiding the excess of cooking oil to make it healthier. They also do not grind the peanuts too finely and maintain the subtle crunchy textures within this smooth and silky dressing.

The rest is pretty much the same routine with fine additions of blanched vegetables from long beans, bean sprouts, cabbage, spinach, cucumber, topped with fried potatoes, tahu, and really good homemade rice cakes. Usually in many street vendors, the peanut sauce has to be dissolved first with water to make it less thick and then mixed with the vegetables on a mortar. Bird-eye chilies can also be added by request.

However, Gado-Gado Bonbin’s peanut dressing is already well prepared and all they need is to assemble the vegetables upon a plate and then pour the dressing all over it, hence the term ‘gado-gado siram’. Additional toppings are also prepared to make the gado-gado even more delicious with fried shallots, emping, and a thick shrimp cracker. The homemade sambal is provided separately.

Even with this fantastic recipe, Gado- Gado Bonbin clearly has gone way past its heyday. Mr. Hadi Lingga Wijaya, its current second generation proprietor, honestly admits that business has become slow nowadays and they have to close at 5pm every day, which is rather in contrast during the 80s when they can only close only after 8pm because everybody flocked in all the time.

“It is probably because of the appearance of shopping malls and people can go look for other places to eat”, he sighed. Some conservative eateries like Gado-Gado Bonbin and others around the neighborhood do suffer from this kind of development, but some others chose to invest on other things like opening in new locations and rebranding themselves.

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There are plenty of other factors as well, for example, with so many varieties of food to choose from nowadays, it can affect people’s preferences. Not to mention that I personally heard some opinion noting that gado-gado is the food for older generations making it unlikely for current teenagers to choose as they often go for something hip and new.

Nevertheless, Mr. Hadi is still proud of the historic stature that his restaurant has achieved after all these years and that media from both local and international companies keep on coming to cover his gado-gado, thus preserving Gado-Gado Bonbin’s existence further.

“Last time, Bobby Chinn came here and the crew filmed him while assembling his own gado-gado. He’s such a funky fellow and kept on asking to enter the kitchen, but I said no”, said Mr. Hadi laughing cautiously, keeping his mother’s best-kept secret recipe.

“Back then, we were actually a small grocery shop. As time went by, we decided to sell es cendol, specially made from soybean flour – not the usual rice flour that you will find anywhere else”, he said proudly. Furthermore, the grocery shop transformed itself to become a restaurant and known for other dishes as well such as lontong cap gomeh, asinan, and even their version of nasi rendang.

The road will be long and winding from here but know that if the younger generation nowadays decide to preserve what their parents love best, traditional eateries such as Gado-Gado Bonbin will continue to exist and be loved for many generations to come. Weathering any storm and other tribulations over the years, Mr. Hadi and his family will continue to serve the best gado-gado and be ready to welcome anyone, anytime. It’s something that us, as their loyal customers, should support and appreciate always.

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GADO GADO BONBIN
Halal-friendly
Some menu are suitable for vegetarians

Address:
Jalan Cikini IV no. 5, Jakarta – Indonesia

T: +62.21.314.1539

Opening hours:
Daily, 10am – 5pm

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Featured in THE FOODIE MAGAZINE September 2014 edition

Download it for free here via SCOOP!

Photography by Dennie Benedict

Stuff of Legends: Hayatinufus Tobing – The Indonesian Cuisine Walking Dictionary (The Foodie Magazine, July 2014)

Meet the hidden legend with vast knowledge about Indonesian cuisine, Mrs Hayatinufus Tobing. The unsung heroine told us a lot about what she had gone through for decades to promote the best from Indonesia through her education and her experience.

We should all feel lucky for living in an age where young, aspiring foodies and chefs are working hand-in-hand with the culinary legends on a noble mission to promote Indonesian cuisine and culture to the world. So many inspiring acts that we can draw from this relationship and thus we are exposed to so many things we haven’t heard before in a short amount of time.

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Let’s take it for instance with our benevolent “Om” William Wongso as he guides ACMI (Aku Cinta Makanan Indonesia), a team of young minds on a route to discover and preserve the rich legacy of Indonesian cuisine. Without the inspiration and hard work from the old guards such as William Wongso for example, probably the younger generation would only revere foreign personas and may be straying off from the original route to promote our tradition, or at least slowed down in the progress.

Our search for the legend for this issue brought us to meet Mrs Hayatinufus Tobing, a 78-year-old spirited lady with an immense experience about Indonesian traditional cuisine. She was more than happy to meet us and enthusiastic to share her two cents about what she had gone through for the past five decades.

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The journey to meet Ibu Tobing was something that I enjoyed although hardships always color my experience in meeting up these legends, including her. After transiting twice using the train all the way to the west, I had to fight the notorious traffic of Ciledug just to get myself inside this homey neighborhood. Arriving at her house, I was more than happy to be welcomed by Ibu Tobing and her journalist daughter.

After we waited for awhile, Ibu Tobing joined us on the living room, already clad in formal cloth and head scarf, ready for the interview. “My silver hair is all messy and hard to comb as I no longer go out as frequently as I used to, that’s also why I’m using the head scarf to make me comfortable when meeting people. Please pardon my old age”, she said cheerfully.

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When asked about how it all started, Ibu Tobing unhurriedly told me a story about her studies in the all-woman school back in 1950s Surabaya. “Indonesia used to have the all-woman schools with a curriculum that taught us so many skills from homemaking, cooking, and even teaching”, she said. “I personally benefitted a lot from this type of schooling because I became skilled in many aspect and we were taught to be active and reliable. Not only that, we became disciplined individuals with good mannerism as well”, she further added but lamenting the fact that this kind of school is no longer there now.

For the degree completion, the students were required to be posted on rural provinces outside of Java and teach in local schools. “I was posted deep in Kalimantan and it was a really challenging experience. We clean ourselves daily on the stream nearby the village and we live on a rumah panggung where at night giant turtles would pass us by and occasional hit the house. At first I was frightened because it felt as if the house would crumble down!” she reminisced.

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The destined moment happened when she’s married to her late husband and they moved to Jakarta to start a family. “In Jakarta, I continued to become a teacher in several schools at once. However as time went by, I grew weary because kids were not as well-mannered as their previous generation had been”, she told us. Her husband nevertheless supported her, but knowing her skills, he decided to create an application letter for Femina magazine for her and she’s soon called for a job interview.

“At first I was reluctant but I decided to accept the job offer. Well, who would have guessed that I ultimately enjoy my work there”, said Ibu Tobing who became the magazine’s recipe tester for 17 years.

With her husband as a health inspector, she often joined his trips to other provinces and abroad. “While my husband goes out for work, I visited local places of interest especially if related to food. I will jot down any knowledge the locals shared me and once back to Jakarta, I tried out the recipe again”, said Ibu Tobing. “My husband had always been so supportive and that’s why I became so adventurous when I was young”, Ibu Tobing continued with smile.

After her retirement, Ibu Tobing later joined a band of home cooks to create a publishing group called Yasa Boga. Together with her group and also by herself alongside with William Wongso, she has published around 60 recipe books locally and many can also be found in Singapore and Malaysia. Specifically with Yasa Boga, the group has sold more than 1,000,000 exemplars since 1986.

What’s interesting as well was the fact that a home cook of extensive knowledge like Ibu Tobing can produce a book about different cuisines, dictionary about ingredients, and also a guide for professional chef. Her enthusiasm is a fiery one even at this age, and it would be waste for us young professionals or aficionados to not follow the footsteps of this fine lady.

 

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Featured in THE FOODIE MAGAZINE July 2014 edition

Download it for free here via SCOOP!

Photography by Dennie Benedict

A Foodie’s Life: Arie Parikesit (The Foodie Magazine, July 2014)

One would immediate consider this guy as a real foodie, as seen from his stature, but you will never realize how adventurous he is until you hear him talking about his extensive experience with Indonesian food.

Meet Arie Parikesit, the young walking dictionary of Indonesian street food.

Knowing Arie for several years now, it’s a bit hard to actually nail him as somebody who specifically specializing on a certain profession. With his Kelana Rasa event organizing company, at times he’d be a hosting for cooking classes or as an organizer for food festivals, but on separate occasion he becomes a tour guide to Southeast Asia’s famous culinary destination cities.

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Observing his habits from during the time when he was working with NGOs on remote countryside of Indonesia years ago, Arie admitted that he will spend any free time he had to discover new places to eat and preferably, it should came from something local.

“Back then it was just a hobby, but now it becomes my occupation”, he said smiling ear to ear. Currently he’s busy organizing expeditions to Indonesian cities to document not just the where to eat, but also to meet the people behind the local cuisine and also to seek for the local wisdom alongside the cultural aspect related to it.

“Six teams are divided all over Indonesia, we’re set to finish within a few months. The aim is to compile this extensive information about the food scene from 100 cities all over Indonesia into books”, he said. That might be one of the most ambitious project far related with culinary, but with his adept skills on organizing, Arie has all the reason to be confident about it.

“As the continuance for Indonesia’s 30 Culinary Icons which was finalized last year by the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, through this initiative I hope that we can develop the sense of belonging from the local guides and further promote their cities as culinary destination which will ultimately boost the tourism of Indonesia”, Arie further explained the motives behind this expedition.

Despite his seemingly never ending city hopping all around the year, Arie will definitely find the time to relax and unwind whenever he’s at home. “I usually exercise and experiment on making juices or smoothies back home. My favorite recipe comes from the mixture of horenso spinach, melon, and squeezed Pontianak orange. No sugar or ice added”, confessed Arie.

Of course we could not let Arie go without telling us his favorite local food in Indonesia and without any hesitation he answered, “The genuine nasi liwet from Solo. I will never skip having it whenever I’m there. There was this one time when my schedule was so tight and I couldn’t stop even just for a moment to eat nasi liwet. I can still feel the regret.”

“My second best goes for pallubasa from Makassar. It’s undeniably so good and a must-try when you’re there”, he continues.

However when it comes to his favorite cities, he chose somewhere else aside from Makassar and Solo.

“Bangkok is definitely the best for street food as commoners, executives, and tourists would never mind to eat at street pushcarts thanks to the excellent tourism development and the enforced hygiene standard from the government. Locally, I’d choose Semarang as my favorite destination. It has interesting options to eat and currently a bit underrated if compared to Bandung or Yogyakarta”, said Arie in full spirit.

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Get in touch with Arie Parikesit at Twitter: @arieparikesit

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Featured in THE FOODIE MAGAZINE July 2014 edition

Download it for free here via SCOOP!

Photography: Arie Parikesit’s personal collection

People Behind Food: Hayatinufus Tobing – Indonesian Cuisine Walking Dictionary

Hayatinufus Tobing

Hayatinufus Tobing or known more as Ibu Tobing started her career as a teacher. Later she decides to enter the journalism career by becoming the recipe tester for one of the most famous, long standing lifestyle magazine in Jakarta.

Thanks to her husband career as a health inspector, she used to follow her husband’s footsteps all over Indonesia and discovered a lot of stories and recipes from the natives.

Today, she’s enjoying her retirement days after thousands of recipes, dozens of cookbooks and an encyclopedia on herbs and spices that she had been working on for so many years. She is literally the walking encyclopedia of Indonesian cuisine.

Jakarta, Indonesia – #peoplebehindfood

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Follow the Instagram: @peoplebehindfood