Satay or sate – originated in Java and is available almost anywhere in Indonesia, as it can be unofficially called as the Indonesian national dish. It is a dish of seasoned, skewered, and grilled meats, served with a sauce. The most famous satays are done with chicken, beef, or lamb cubes. Sauces vary from province to province but the most common is a peanut sauce or simply drenched with kecap manis (sweet soy sauce). Satays are usually eaten with a plate full of hot, fluffy rice, with bird-eye chillies and pickles made from shallots, cucumbers, and carrots.
Whew! Writing that just made my mouth water.
Being Indonesian, I am proud of satay and its traditions. It is a dish that can truly be representative of the country, it is glorious and celebrated by everyone, be it from the lowly kaki lima (hawkers) or at fancy restaurants.
Back before 1974, hawkers dominated the satay scene all over Jakarta, it was only then that Satay House Senayan introduced the art of enjoying satay in a restaurant. Satay House Senayan quickly gained recognition from it and since then, the dish has been elevated to a new heights of appreciation.
With its traditionalist theme and goals to preserve the cultural heritage of Indonesia, Satay House Senayan began with its first ever restaurant on Jalan Pakubuwono. It was carefully designed to promote a traditional and local feel, such as the use of wayang (Javanese shadow puppets) and an earthy atmosphere, while also features mostly Javanese cuisine on the menu. It was pretty much revolutionary at that time to see a restaurant that bravely promoted local values both in the design and cuisine.
Of course, the satay formula here is something you cannot take lightly. For instance, the perfectly grilled chicken satay utilizes not only the meat but also the chicken skin which complement each other flawlessly especially when dipped to the uniquely thick and silky peanut sauce. Fine additions in the menu such as lamb or prawn satays, tahu telor, nasi liwet, soto ayam, or sop buntut are also among the clientele’s favorites, alongside myriad of other Indonesian dishes available here.
Due to a government regulation to prohibit the use of foreign names for brands and products during the period of New Order regime, Satay House Senayan had to alter its name to Sate Khas Senayan – a name which was chosen carefully and cleverly rhymes with the old one. Sate Khas Senayan also realized the importance of adapting itself with the trends and decided to empower their restaurants with modern touches on many aspects. Nowadays, we can see the standardization of the restaurant’s design with current features like al fresco seating, wi-fi connections, and late night dining during weekends to attract young adults who love to hang out.
Changing times brought Sate Khas Senayan to also compete in shopping malls and it even provides an express service concept in selected food courts to cater quick business lunches. Thus so far, Sate Khas Senayan has proven itself consistent, not only with its delicious satays but it has always been the ardent patron of anything Indonesian – starting from the ever-rotating Indonesian menu done annually, the traditional touch on the concept and design, and quite recently; publishing the English version of comic books about Pandawa – a legendary wayang tale.
As with any iconic persona or institution, the true testament to longevity is its ability to adapt with the changing times. With its modest start in 1974 and slowly but steady expansion through the past three decades, the company has reaped the reward of its hard work. This year alone, it has added seven branches, bringing it to a total of 30 Sate Khas Senayan branches all over the country. With its solid foundation and drive to embrace and accept change, Sate Khas Senayan is bound to be with us, feeding us their perfectly cooked satay for many more years.
SATE KHAS SENAYAN
Some menu are suitable for vegetarians
Address: Around 30 locations across Jakarta – Indonesia
Opening hours: Everyday, mall opening hours (up to late night in weekends)
Featured in THE FOODIE MAGAZINE December 2013 edition
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Photos by: Dennie Benedict