“It’s really easy to figure out why I love what I love, the holidays and food. I know the difference between having them and not having them.”
– Sandra Lee
Turns out that the original American-style fried chicken became the true winner in Jakarta. Back then, there’s a sharp competition between BonChon and 4 Fingers but seems to me that both have run out of energy. The latter even decided to pull out of Jakarta completely, leaving only Medan to fend off itself in Indonesia’s savage competition in food industry.
Then came KyoChon with all its mighty weaponry as the biggest business in South Korea and its trendy presentation of K-Pop stars to always please its customers. This one is strong in the Force but there’s no telling how long Korean-style fried chicken will actually last the competition. I am hoping sincerely that it will be long enough.
Ignoring the whole fuss about industry analysis for now, let’s take a look at 4 Fingers in its own homeland Singapore. I was quite lucky to find that there’s an outlet of this magical fried chicken shop at ION Orchard while doing some shopping there, and it brought us real joy to see it again finally!
The outlet was small and packed with everyone lunching there and it was weekend to make things worse. However, the service was quick, the menu was more varied than Indonesia, and we finally got ourselves a dining table.
As always, they gave out the buzzer so when it rings, it’s time to pick up the food from the kitchen.
My wife had the mixed chicken with both sauces and rice. Meanwhile I had the katsu sandwich. Both of us enjoyed it but agree that the taste in Indonesia was stronger and up to our liking more. Surely it’s because our demanding tongues wanted more flavor and it’s a bit mild here in Singapore.
My sweet fried bread with chopped chicken katsu and salad was quite fulfilling. The rice itself was okay and the chicken was crispy and good as always. Again, the flavor strength was still the main issue. Even the Heaven and Earth iced lemon tea was subpar when compared with Indonesian Burger King’s.
In any case, it was nostalgic and pretty much consoling our hearts from all the dismay upon witnessing that 4 Fingers is no longer in Jakarta. A bit pessimistic though that it will come back again one day but at least, there’s always one in Singapore to treat us from this misery.
4 FINGERS CRISPY CHICKEN SINGAPORE
Unsuitable for vegetarians
Address (Singapore only):
- ION Orchard
- Plaza Singapura
- Changi Terminal 3
Opening hours: Daily, 10am – 10pm
Ask anyone from Bandung and they will share the same answer when you are looking for the best lapis legit in town. As the successor, Chendawati Liem is the architect behind the success of Ny. Liem now and the daunting task to preserve it rest on her shoulder.
Way before the oleh-oleh fever hits the weekenders in Bandung, there’s always Nyonya Liem’s classic treats in many households there. People still remember Ny. Liem as the lady who started it all since as far as 1966. For the citizens of Bandung, it was her who introduced us with the joy of baking and her delightful lapis legit.
Thousands of students have been under her tutelage over the years, for either personal or professional use. Perhaps even now, some of the best delicacies found in Bandung are made by those who were once the students of Ny. Liem. She has become a part of everyone in Bandung – be it as the kind next door baking teacher and the lady who owns the cake shop that we will visit from time to time.
Retiring since the turn of 21st century, her legacy is now under the good care of the second generation. Spearheading the effort to preserve her dreams, Ibu Chendawati Liem is taking her role seriously and so far, she has been expanding the enterprise beyond what was Ny. Liem would ever imagine.
Ibu Acen, as everybody would call her, loves to bake since forever. As the most famous cookery course provider in town, Ny. Liem would be a natural choice for those who seek to further their knowledge. On one fateful day, Ibu Acen decided to enroll in one of her classes.
Not only that she acquired what she’s after, Ibu Acen was also introduced with Ny. Liem’s son who would one day become her husband. After the marriage in 1990, Ibu Acen started to live under the same roof with the maestro. Since then, it has become her task as a devoted daughter-in-law as well as the right person groomed to be the successor of Ny. Liem’s long standing legacy.
Under Ibu Acen’s management, a series of strategic moves were implemented. One of the most monumental feats was the acquisition of a property not far from the cake shop on Jalan Naripan. This property was later designed to hold bigger audience for the cookery course as well as the specialty shop for all the baking needs.
Other than this, Ibu Acen is constantly on the move to create new recipes and keeping their business always on the edge by becoming the trendsetter.
“We will always have our hampers and lapis legit as our regulars, but over the past few years, we’re also introducing what’s hot out there for our customers”, she says. Until this very moment, whenever one is up for it, you can always find a good stock of RVC, rainbow cake, and Ny. Liem’s version of Tokyo Banana.
Ibu Acen is widely known with her stylized take on what Ny. Liem does best all this time with the lapis legit. There are now no less than a dozen of different motives of lapis legit and roll cakes available here. As we all know, lapis legit or what the Dutch called as spekkoek is a cake of extraordinary complexity. Silky and delicate, each of the layers has to be applied precisely yet patiently and hence that explains why lapis legit can be very expensive.
With her finesse and also staying true to the effort to preserve the powerhouse name of Ny. Liem, Ibu Acen participated in record breaking events as well. In 2012, she broke the MURI record by showcasing a 500 meter long of rainbow cake. Before that, she was also participating in another record breaking attempt with other prominent cake shops in Bandung.
Her mind now is forever set to impart the baking knowledge with everyone as well as expanding Ny. Liem’s business scope. “Hopefully soon, we will open our wedding cake gallery not far from here. As for my commitment in education, we have prepared the necessary permits for us to open a school one day. I’d like to do it one at a time”, shares Ibu Acen.
What’s good for the business as well is that her son Bjorn, has shown a lot of potentials and he’s committed to follow the footsteps of her mother. In many occasions as well as tending the day-to-day business, he’s always there for his mother.
“Now I can rest easy. The third generation of Ny. Liem will soon ready to take over me in th the future”, says Ibu Acen proudly.
NY. LIEM | Jalan Naripan no. 52 & 80, Bandung | +62 22 4231425 | www.nyliem.co.id
Photography: Ny. Liem’s personal collection
Featured in THE FOODIE MAGAZINE Aug 2015 edition
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Probably my biggest regret is that I missed the opportunity to eat at Sarinah’s Komala’s back then. It’s now already a history and we are now forced to eat at expensive places for Indian food in Jakarta.
Which is why that, again, this is my sole mission to enjoy good Indian food while in Singapore and Komala’s happens to be also halal-certified!
Not sure what is the main reason why Indonesians are not really fond of Indian food in general. We’re more closely attached to Middle Eastern food in a sense, but even so both cuisines are still alien if compared with the ubiquitous Chinese and Japanese food.
So back to business, Komala’s is a vegetarian restaurant that derives most of its influence from Southern Indian cuisine. It was almost midnight but the spilling from Mustafa Center keeps on coming one by one here. Lucky that the cashier was still in good spirit and helped me with the service swiftly.
Picking the vegetarian biryani set with dhal tadka, yogurt, and pappadams; one plate for two was more than enough for both of us to be happy. It was not only romantic but also hearty. Altogether with a large cup of Fanta Orange, we had our most exciting time on the first day I brought my wife for the first time to Singapore.
There are so many rooms to explore but it would be waste to just visit Komala’s while neglecting the rest. However, rest assured, the next time we’re heading for Mustafa again, then a visit here would be a full certainty.
All dishes are suitable for vegetarians
Address (Singapore only):
- Upper Dickson Rd.
- Tanglin Mall
- Serangoon Rd.
- North Point
- Chevron House
Opening hours: Daily, 7am – 11.30pm
Been away from Fukuoka for so long doesn’t mean that the love for his hometown fare can be forgotten easily. Among the overflowing varieties of Japanese cuisine, Chef Tomohiko Omori has a soft spot for this one among all.
There’s a zen peacefulness and serenity thanks to the pristine surroundings that I felt when entering Miyama at Hotel Borobudur Jakarta. The natural light gives away the energy for the patrons and yet there’s calm in the air at the same time. I feel at home right away.
The menu is a well-versed one, naturally, but I cannot take my eyes off one special menu that I will always seek in any given Japanese restaurant here or anywhere during my travels. It’s the Kyushu-specialty unagi Yanagawa. While it’s not uncommon but rarely does a restaurant could deliver it perfectly, or subjectively, much to my liking. Miyama is among the rarity, so to speak.
And then the chef came – all clad in white and kopiah-like chef’s hat like in any well-established Japanese restaurant. Chef Tomohiko Omori cheerfully greets us with a good command in English. He tells us a bit about his experiences as a chef in Australia and most recently, for a luxury liner for almost 12 years around Asia Pacific.
He talks also about his hometown specialties and what he can present here in Miyama. That includes the unagi Yanagawa that we were having that day. “It was originated from the small town of Yanagawa in Kyushu and if you love eating eels, it’s the perfect place to visit”, he says.
As a proud citizen of Kyushu, Chef Omori has that strong sense of belonging when it comes to what he prefers to eat. “The bolder taste that we find in Fukuokan fares differs itself than other regions in Japan”, says the chef.
Finally, we ask him about what he likes most. Chef Omori says, “Of all the Japanese food that I encountered in my life, I found any noodle-based dishes as my favorite and especially, ramen.”
With so many regions that differentiate each other with their ramen formula, of course he didn’t forget to be specific. “To be exact, it has to be the tonkotsu ramen – the specialty ramen from Hakata district in Fukuoka”, admits the chef proudly.
Featured in THE FOODIE MAGAZINE Sept 2015 edition
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