Quikskoop™: RM Family Benteng (Bukittinggi – West Sumatra, Indonesia)

RM Family - Exterior

For decades we have acknowledged Ayam Pop as an essential part of the mythical Minang cuisine. However, the interesting fact about this particular dish is that it was actually discovered ‘quite recently’ or perhaps around several decades ago by a hawker’s owner in Padang who relocated to Bukittinggi, West Sumatra. My most recent visit to the city brought me to know more about the inventor.

After accompanying my friend for an interview with Mr Amaury, the chairman of ASO – a company that organizes Tour de France and Dakar Rally, I decided to follow my good friend Daniel recommendation for Rumah Makan Family just nearby Grand Rocky Hotel, which is actually not that far from the most expensive hotel in Bukittinggi, The Hills.

It was around 8 pm and our hotel was pretty much far from the restaurant. My friend boldly asked a waiter whether there’s any possibility for a cab to take us back to the hotel but some locals instead offered to call the taxi for us. While this may be an awkward move in an increasingly superficial society of the so-called modern Indonesia and their love for democracy back in Jakarta, but I tried to give it a chance to these gentlemen came far from the influence of the scandalous capital and perhaps, they’re after all honest (and in the end, yes!).

RM Family - Ayam Pop 1 RM Family - Sambal Ayam Pop

Meanwhile, we were served with the usual formation of Minang cuisine with the additional of the restaurant’s specialty dishes of Ayam Pop and grilled gourami fish. If you’re looking at Ayam Pop, it’ll look like pale chicken pieces, maybe raw and somehow oily. It’s definitely not inviting for many since the chicken was plucked out of its skin, making itself look ‘naked’.

But here’s something philosophical about it because it’s the ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ thing kicks in. This chicken, however uninviting as it may seem, has undergone series of good seasoning and of course, cleaning. The chicken then dunked into a hot coconut oil. The fragrance and all its goodness then linger thus it became something beautiful came out from heaven!

Its deep flavor combined with the tomato sambal has always been a lethal combo. Even another journalist friend who came here after my recommendation finished five pieces of chicken! That’s just awesome, especially when you found out that the expectation fulfilled.

The restaurant itself appears like other rumah makan you’ll find around West Sumatra but since it’s located in a cool city like Bukittinggi and overlooking the valleys, the atmosphere here gives a major plus points. RM Family is simply where can found both the authenticity, great flavors, nice people (who actually helped us find a cab back to the hotel), and wonderful surroundings. Thank God for Tour de Singkarak, now I can scour the blessed land of West Sumatra with much ease.

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RM FAMILY BENTENG

Halal-friendly

Must eat: Ayam pop, gurame bakar, and other usual Minang dishes

Spend: IDR 30,000 – IDR 40,000 / person

Address: Jalan Yos Sudarso No. 3,  Bukittinggi – West Sumatra, Indonesia

Telp: +62.752.211.02 / 626.299

Opening hours: Everyday, 8 am – 9 pm

Quikskoop™: Bofet Sianok (Payakumbuh – West Sumatra, Indonesia)

Bofet Sianok - Exterior

The trick to enjoy both the cycling race of Tour de Singkarak and famous Minang cuisine at the same time is to know when to utilize a really small margin of time to do the latter. Much to my surprise, this time I didn’t really need any planning at all because of the just-in-the-nick-of-time information my friends gave me. It’s pretty much do or don’t situation and my encounter with Bofet Sianok was a heroic mission accomplished with flying colors!

We were heading to see the start of the second stage of Tour de Singkarak 2013 in the city of Payakumbuh, a few dozen kilometers from the hotel we stay at in Bukittinggi. Still drowsy from the exhausting first stage and the heat back at Bonjol and now welcomed by a really cool misty morning, I fell asleep in the bus while corresponding with Uni Reno Andam, the writer of Rendang Traveler and a native of Payakumbuh, about what to do in the city.

By the time I arrived in Payakumbuh, it still took me quite some time to decide whether to really seek out the place Uni Reno just recommended me – the legendary Bofet Sianok. I asked several townspeople for the whereabouts of this place and they said it’s just nearby the city’s market and apparently all the townspeople I asked knew about this place. That indeed intrigued me more.

I then decided to look for it and scour the area around the market while also asking more people about the exact route. It’s already 9.15 and it’s unimaginable if I missed the start and moreover, the bus. Luckily, I finally found it and its rustic coziness really gave me the mood to make a scene as a foodie ready to act with his camera.

Lucky again that Mr Heru, one member of the family who owns Bofet Sianok was also there and he’s more than welcome to have a foodie around. After a brief intro, he also informed us also that recently a team from local television paid a visit for a scene in one of its shows. Somehow it’s a good thing for me to find an establishment already familiar with getting coverage from media since it’s gonna be easier to ask around and especially, taking pictures.

Bubur Kampiun
Bubur Kampiun

I immediately set myself on the course on why I was getting here in the first place. Bubur Kampiun was the sole reason and I was really having one of the best time of my life there. Its richness aligns well with all the balance needed from this somewhat complex dish. Bubur Kampiun as we know it comprises of several desserts of the same one from Bubur Sumsum, Bubur Kacang Hijau, Srikaya (sugar-apple fruit), shredded coconut, coconut milk, and gula kinca (liquid brown sugar). This may sound too much but Bofet Sianok was able to make it still fulfilling but not that sweet like Turkish delights for example. This wonderful dish that consists of many textures and layers. Additionally, the fact that it’s actually a one-stop journey of many Indonesian desserts in a single plate was a awestruck experience for me. Personally, I haven’t had any even though I’m living in Jakarta, where most Minang cuisine are actually accessible with ease.

I managed to finish around 9.45 and then hurried back to the starting point to capture great moments of it, although in my heart I’m yearning to back for more. I’d love to have again the exotic ampiang dadiah, or the Minang yogurt with condiments of shredded coconut and the liquid sugar, since I had my first months ago during my trip to Lintau with STP Trisakti!

Mr Heru said in particular that this dish is a must-have for my next visit. That I do not know when but surely, it’ll be a certain thing for my future plan – especially also because I want to bring my wife on a road journey to enjoy Danau Singkarak and the beautiful rolling hills of West Sumatra.

I shall return for sure, Bofet Sianok!

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BOFET SIANOK

Halal-friendly

Must eat: Bubur kampiun, ampiang dadiah, nasi goreng

Spend: IDR 20,000 – IDR 30,000 / person

Address: Jalan Jenderal Ahmad Yani no. 8, Payakumbuh, West Sumatra – Indonesia

Telp: +62.752.925.30 / +62.852.862.860.05

Opening hours: Everyday, TBA

Turochas ‘T’ Fuad: Founder of Travelmob

Turochas Fuad 1

One’s satisfaction may not simply derive from achievements from being assigned to hotshot posts or as somebody of importance in big companies. This is the case of Turochas Fuad, formerly known as the Managing Director for Skype Asia Pacific and Senior Manager of Southeast Asia Yahoo! Mobile. With his formidable and extensive background in IT management at several high profile companies, he finally decided to surf the turf of the entrepreneurship world.

Just recently he introduced Travelmob, an online social stay marketplace where property owners in Asia Pacific can list unique spaces to visiting travelers for short or long-term stays. It’s also a venture co-founded alongside Mr Prashant Kirtane, his long-time associate back at Yahoo! who excels in technicalities. For him, it’s a match made in heaven as the pair now hand-in-hand together to drive Travelmob to become the leading website for its kind in Asia Pacific.

Why choose traveling as the theme after all these years involved in IT business? He simply stated, ‘It comes with a bit of passion as well. I love to travel, a huge traveling fan. That couple with the fact that my background has always been online and mobile’.

If we trace back, his love for traveling is perhaps driven back since his childhood times. He remembered, ‘When I was younger, my parents sent me to Singapore to study English’. After that, he decided to pursue his degree all the way to the US.

‘When I was in the US, I had a big passion for all things technologic. I was very lucky to end up in Silicon Valley. I had a very hardcore internet background’, he told us. He then stumbled across the chance to work for Sun Microsystems and also his initial call for entrepreneurship that came for the first time with his WUF Networks, later acquired by Yahoo! a couple of years afterwards.

A few years working with Yahoo! brought him back to Southeast Asia again after two decades in the US. Serving his time with Yahoo! and Skype taught him to develop his passion more seriously than ever. There, he learned more on how to coordinate with team members in other countries and also on how to establish and manage partnership with operators, advertisers and publishers across nations. Not to mention of course, his IT managerial capabilities since back from the old days at Silicon Valley.

All this then culminated to the no-longer-uncontainable desire to create his personal endeavor. ‘I missed doing something on my own. So combined with Prashant, we came up with this idea together and we decided to pursuit it’, he said remembering how it all started.

Turochas Fuad 2

Certainly starting an innovative venture like this would require a lot of effort to simplify and personalize the needs of both hosts and travelers thus ensuring the user-friendliness of it. ‘If you look at Travelmob, even though the whole process seems to be straightforward but it took a while to make this thing going but we’re growing very quickly and there are always challenges in response to that’, he admitted. For that he manages a simple interface, simple payment, good relationships with the hosts, and promoting the website anywhere he goes.

Based in Singapore, Travelmob now continues to grow and serve in multilingual service and its teams spread all over Asia, such as in Hong Kong, Bali, Thailand, and The Philippines. On how to manage his staffs, Mr T claimed that he handpicked them all by himself. ‘All the people that we hired so far, I personally interviewed them and made the final decision. I always believe in hiring people who are smarter than me, at least in certain areas’. He firmly believes that one must be able to put the trust on his people, ‘Because at the end of the day, a CEO cannot do every single thing. So you have to be able to delegate well but you sort of make sure that everybody is singing the same song’.

Mr T is also an avid believer in good communication and maintaining good terms with his team members. Aside from communicating online, he also finds the opportunity to visit them and see how they’re doing from time to time. ‘The best way to learn what people want and ways to improve your site or your product is to basically let people tell you’, he explained. Furthermore he said, ‘You can look at your competitors and try to look what else to be better but sometimes the basic fundamental stuff is to ask to people who use the site the most and say ‘Hey, what do you want to build next?’ and based on that you prioritize accordingly.’

If it’s about the motivation, he needs also to ensure that his team members are up for it. ‘Especially for a startup, sometimes goals will change. One week it could be this, next week it could be that’, he explained about the dynamics of this industry. ‘It’s not because we’re indecisive, it’s because we have to react accordingly. Sometimes you test and learn, but then you realize that it’s not working so you try a different way, further he added.

During his pastimes, he becomes a real fan of scuba diving as he has done that back in Bali and Bunaken. He also mentioned his travels to other countries such as his love for traditional life holiday in Chiang Mai, all the skiing and unique powdery snow in Hokkaido, also his quite recent safari for honeymoon back in Tanzania. Thankful of his adventures so far in the IT world and the real world with travels, ‘All of that came to me as a great opportunity. If you think you can create the best out there, you have to do it yourself’.

To be able to get this far, Mr T confessed that he idolized the way Silicon Valley moguls work and also his parents for being his source of inspiration. From them, he quoted a beautiful and inspirational saying, ‘You want to be a king of something but not a prince of everything’. Thus Travelmob was born and ready to take the world.

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Name: Turochas ‘T’ Fuad

Age: Born in Medan, now at his late 30s

Education:

The University of Texas at Austin (Bachelor of Business Administration)

Experience:

2012 – present: CEO & Co-Founder of Travelmob Pte Ltd.

July 2009 – April 2012: Managing Director, Skype Asia Pacific

June 2007 – July 2009: Head of Mobile – Senior Director, Southeast Asia Yahoo! 

2005 – 2007: Director Business Development, Mobile Music Yahoo!,Inc.

2003 – 2005: President, Entrepreneur, Business Development at WUF Networks

2001-2003: Director Product Management & Strategy at Convito, Inc.

1997-2001: Electronic Commerce Manager at Sun Microsystems, Inc.

1995- 1997: Consultant at American Management Systems, Inc.

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Images courtesy of Cognito PR Consultant

Restaurant Review: The Belly Clan

The Belly Clan - Interior 5

Berawal dari persahabatan dan cita-cita bersama, akhirnya sekumpulan mahasiswa Indonesia yang menamatkan pendidikannya di Australia berhasil membuka sebuah opsi kuliner baru di pusat kota Jakarta. Dengan nama yang unik, The Belly Clan, para pebisnis muda ini siap untuk meramaikan percaturan bisnis restoran yang tidak ada matinya di Jakarta.

Banyak para restaurateur yang saya temui di Jakarta maupun kota-kota lain dewasa ini terinspirasi dari seluk beluk kehidupan mereka ketika merantau di mancanegara. Ketika kembali ke tanah air, itulah saatnya inspirasi-inspirasi idealis tersebut dituangkan secara riil menjadi sebuah konsep bisnis yang segar.

Tren masyarakat Barat, termasuk Australia, kini tengah menggandrungi sebuah pengalaman kuliner yang tidak lagi ortodoks terbatas pada tatanan lama seperti fine dining restaurant yang rumit dan canggih. Mereka kini menggemari masakan-masakan yang hidup, mengepul, lezat, sekaligus pas untuk kantong mereka. Di negeri-negeri itulah masakan-masakan khas Asia berjaya dengan segala keunikannya. Bahkan tren ini diamati serius serta dinikmati serta merta oleh seorang celebrity chef terkenal asal Amerika Serikat, Mario Batali, dalam wawancaranya dengan saya beberapa waktu sebelumnya.

The Belly Clan - Interior 3

Apapun motifnya, saya pribadi menyambut adanya angin segar dengan langkah berani dari The Belly Clan dalam mengusung genre Asia dalam masakan-masakannya. Tidak berhenti di situ, The Belly Clan tidak segan memadukan tema Asia tersebut dengan kekhasan masakan Barat, menjadikannya bertema Asian fusion! Tentu ini sebuah langkah berani kedua mengingat otentisitas masakan Asia sudah menjadi jati diri para penikmat lokal sekaligus juga bagi mereka yang hanya mengenal masakan Barat apa adanya. Dengan menyatukan keduanya tentu dua ekspresi dapat kita temukan bagi yang mendengar mengenai ini, mengernyitkan dahi atau tersenyum lebar seperti saya. Hingga tibalah pertemuan saya dengan The Belly Clan untuk pertama kalinya.

Perjumpaan pertama dengan The Belly Clan di suatu siang yang terik ternyata cukup menarik. Menempuh perjalanan ke daerah bisnis di bilangan Sudirman yang masih berantakan dengan konstruksi jalan layang Casablanca saat itu tak ayal membuat lalu lintas di sekitaran gedung Intiland Tower tempat The Belly Clan berada sangat macet. Berhasil menembus itu semua lalu begitu nyaman rasanya ketika menemukan oase kesejukan dalam balutan desain minimalis industrial dengan  perpaduan warna bata yang dicat putih serta warna teduh. Dua hal lain yang menarik dari ruangan utama dari restoran ini adalah sebuah bar di satu sisi dan semi open kitchen di sisi lainnya. Sedikit melipir melewati sebuah lorong, terdapat juga private area yang dengan kapasitas cukup besar.

Dari segi makanan, The Belly Clan menempatkan seorang Hengky Effendy sebagai exective chef-nya. Hengky sendiri adalah seorang chef muda berbakat dan penuh pengalaman yang telah melanglangbuana ke berbagai negara dan bekerja untuk Gordon Ramsay, celebrity chef yang kita kenal sering menjadi pembawa acara kuliner. Selama bekerja di Gordon Ramsay, ia sempat dibimbing langsung oleh Josh Emett yang tersohor serta pernah memukau perhatian Daniel Boulud, seorang legenda Michelin Star lainnya, dengan masakannya.

Mini Asian Sloppy Joes
Mini Asian Sloppy Joes

Siang itu saya berkesempatan menikmati berbagai variasi masakan The Belly Clan yang ternyata mengundang selera dari segi rasa maupun penampilan. Dimulai dari nachos yang kali ini dibuat dari kulit pangsit untuk kesan Asia namun tetap dipadukan dengan keju dan salsa tomat khas Mexico dengan saus cocolan fusion yaitu avocado wasabi. Selanjutnya menu pembuka ini ditambah beef tortilla dengan saus kacang Gochujang khas Korea serta Mini Asian Sloppy Joes yang terdiri dari burger-burger kecil berisi daging cincang, keju, telur mata sapi, sayur serta saus tomat yang diiringi dengan kentang goreng irisan tipis khas The Belly Clan. Perkenalan yang menarik mengingat tema fusion ini sesuatu yang saya sambut dengan terbuka dan ternyata berhasil memukau saya.

Crab Fettuccine
Crab Fettuccine

Tentu yang menyenangkan adalah ketika euphoria dari menu-menu pembuka tadi berlanjut dengan menu utama yang tidak kalah menarik. The Belly Clan menyajikan pasta jenis fettuccine dengan menu kebanggaan orang Singapura yaitu chili crab dengan tampilan warna merah berani. Ide menggiurkan lainnya datang dari ikan salmon Norwegia dengan saus salsa tomat dan nasi kuning gurih. Tapi pilihan saya waktu itu datang dari tumis irisan tipis lidah sapi dengan garlic rice dengan potongan cabe, bawang daun serta minyak wijen. Hasilnya, euphoria kegembiraan itu tetap berlanjut dengan rasa makanan yang mumpuni hasil karya Chef Hengky.

Patut dicatat juga adalah konsep The Belly Clan yang modern dan fleksibel tidak terpatok pada fase-fase layaknya restoran fine dining. Sehingga porsi-porsi menu utamanya disajikan dengan porsi cukup besar khusus untuk memenuhi kebutuhan para eksekutif muda Jakarta yang berkultur makan cepat di siang hari sebelum kembali ke kesibukannya masing-masing. Dengan harga yang cukup terjangkau, lokasi prima, dan jenis masakan yang belum pernah saya temui di Jakarta sebelumnya, The Belly Clan memainkan sebuah keunggulan yang patut diperhitungkan.

The Belly Clan - Pannacota with black sesame sauce
Pannacota with black sesame sauce

Sebagai penutup, dessert yang menjadi kebanggaan The Belly Clan adalah pannacotta khas Italia yang kali ini diberi saus wijen hitam sebagai ganti dari versi aslinya. Tambahannya, The Belly Clan juga memiliki sederetan wine serta cocktail khas yang diberikan sentuhan Asia baik dari nama maupun racikannya. Betapa lengkap pengalaman berkunjung saat itu, yang tersisa malah adalah rasa penasaran hendak mencoba masakan-masakan lain yang terdengar menggiurkan!

Tentunya pemunculan tema baru seperti ini adalah sesuatu yang sepatutnya dihargai dan dipertahankan. Ciri khas Asia yang memang notabene mengalir dalam darah kita adalah sebuah jati diri dan ini menjadi semacam kebanggaan tersendiri yang kelak akan mendorong laju munculnya usaha-usaha makanan upscale yang mengikuti arketipe ini sebagai panutannya sekaligus juga mengimbangi merebaknya restoran-restoran yang terlalu bertema Barat. Mari kita nantikan sepak terjang The Belly Clan dan pemunculan kreasi-kreasi makanan terbarunya di masa mendatang!

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THE BELLY CLAN

Halalness to be confirmed (pork menu and liquor are served)

Some menu suitable for vegetarians

Address: Intiland Tower, GF – Jln. Jend. Sudirman Kav. 32, Jakarta – Indonesia

Opening Hours: 10 am – 12 am (weekdays), 10 am – 2 am (weekends)

RSVP: 021 – 5790.6000

Website: http://thebellyclan.com

Facebook: thebellyclan

Twitter: @TheBellyClan

Pricing: IDR 150,000 – IDR 250,000 for two

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Images are courtesy of The Belly Clan