Heading to the southern part of Jakarta in a busy, weekday morning was no small feat. The excitement to know more about Markoek, a decade old business that successfully promotes traditional Indonesian snacks, pumps up the spirit for even the most seasoned foodies.
Any efforts nowadays through personal means to promote Indonesian food in its own country are very much appreciated – let alone if one could successfully introducing it also abroad. More and more people are showing their love to Indonesian food nowadays, but the pioneers may be only a handful and they are here to inspire us today. One of them is Markoek.
Traditional Indonesian snacks have unlimited potential – especially if we could appreciate how influential they are within the fabric of our society. Its intricacies behind the making, how colorful they are, and its rich variety are the mediums that brought people together in social functions for as long as any Indonesians could remember.
Even so, its place within the society nowadays is considered only for lower segments, since the mid-high markets are more interested with the likes of modern French and Japanese pastries nowadays. Not to mention of course, the onslaught of Korean influences for at least a few years now.
Upon reaching our destination, we meet Mr. Mindiarto Djugorahardjo. Traditionally known as an experienced salesman, a business consultant, and also a trainer; Mr Djugorahardjo has been in the business for around three decades now. Surely if the motivation is righteous and the opportunity arises, one can tell that he would be undaunted with the task of expanding his business to food.
That was the case regarding the inception of Markoek in 2006. It was a leap of faith in remembrance of what his mother had taught him about food and the spirit to promote Indonesian cuisine. As a foodie and a home cook, Mr Djugorahardjo jokingly suggest that, “Entering this business is a matter of changing the main ingredients of rice to flour”.But even so, Markoek turns into a very serious business.
Fun fact, Markoek itself may sound like a real world but it’s actually a portmanteau between “markt” (the Dutch for market) and “koek” (cake). Markoek was then labeled as a boutique cake shop, instead of just the usual snack shop.
The story of how it all started came from eleven years ago. Menteng – a verdant neighborhood in the heart of modern Jakarta, was about to witness the opening of a strategically located small shopping mall that goes with the name Menteng Huis.
“I was asked by its management to be featured as one of their food tenants there with Indonesian theme on the menu. Quickly we came up with the idea of promoting Indonesian traditional snacks”, explains Mr Djugorahardjo who would right away took the opportunity.
His confidence quickly was put to test during the early years of the business. “Two years we bled and it was indeed challenging to open up a shop there”, he says.
Menteng Huis as we know it, is more of a culinary destination rather than a full-fledged shopping mall. “One would walk around, does some window shopping, watch a movie, and then grab something to eat in a shopping mall. With Menteng Huis, it’s about people coming specifically to eat at a certain restaurant only”, he explains.
That’s when they decided to open up the delivery business and also going online. “It was the initiative that my daughters presented and I quickly agreed with their terms. Now each of my family members has their own involvements in the business”, says Mr Djugorahardjo proudly.
It was advantageous for Markoek to expand into delivery service that caters nearby offices and government institutions around Menteng. “The Ministry of Fishery is one of our regulars and its bureaus would each order from us for their meetings and other functions”, he says. In time, other nearby institutions such as the Ministry of Trade, Ministry of Law & Human Rights, Pertamina, BAPPENAS, KPPA, and others require the services of Markoek for exactly the same needs.
However, then came a time to close the shop at Menteng Huis as Mr Djugorahardjo deemed that the renting fee has become too exorbitant. Nevertheless, Markoek has now already stood firm with its delivery business, all made with love from its main kitchen back at Kelapa Gading.
“In the afternoon we are doing all the preparations and then the finishing part came in very early in the morning. As the dawn breaks, we are ready for the delivery”, Mr Djugorahardjo explains about how it works back at the main kitchen.
Markoek’s traditional lineup consists of the things we know all too well and yet hard to resist. Snacks such as getuk, ongol-ongol, bugis, hunkwe, onde, arem-arem, kroket, and lemper are only but a few of its full lineup. “In order to make it competitive but also innovative, we also employ the use of cassava flour instead of the imported regular flour. Apparently, it works really well for some of the snacks”, he says.
Now after a successful traditional snack delivery business, a coffee shop, and two snack booths at Jalan Radio Dalam and TransMart Cempaka Putih; Mr Djugorahardjo still has in his heart to expand his business again with something even more innovative.
“Jakarta doesn’t have a proper traditional oleh-oleh shop”, he says. “This city needs to be like Bandung, for example, where people would buy its pisang molen or brownies as souvenirs back home. That is something that I would like to do in the future here.”
The article was published in Passion Magazine (2017)