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!

Eastern Opulence: Representing What’s Best from The East

Eastern Opulence is situated on the corner of Jalan Cipaku, near to what some people would call as the trinity of Jakarta’s gourmet streets – Senopati, Gunawarman, and Wolter Monginsidi. The neighborhood is home for many foodie haunts, from street food to upscale restaurants. Among the latter, is Eastern Opulence with its wide offerings of Indonesian and Asian dishes.

Flaunting its whitewashed exterior and the numerous windows, it becomes more glamorous once you’re heading deeper inside. Marbles, columns, a grand staircase, aristocratic dining tables and chairs, and the attendance of many waiters and waitresses are the welcoming theme of this restaurant. The restaurant can house to more than a hundred diners even on the first floor. Heading up, you will be witnessing the opulent private rooms, all color coded and each representing the name of a jewel.

The grand menu is developed by the young and talented Chef Kevin Zhu. Trained since the tender age of 16, the chef honed his skills further at a prominent culinary school and by delving deeper into New Zealand’s gourmet food scene. There’s a level of sophistication and cleverly intertwined elements between modern techniques and Indonesian influences from his dishes here. That clearly came from his years of experience abroad and his love for Indonesian food.

Heading straight to the main course section in the menu, one can see that the chef employs various modern cooking processes by using premium ingredients. For instance, the 12-hours, slowly cooked Australian beef tongue with green chili sambal. My personal favorite would be the sous-vide Australian lamb rack grilled to medium-well temperature and glazed with spicy kecap manis, Balinese sambal matah, and serundeng. Other than these two, savor also the flavors of charcoal-grilled oxtail or the wagyu cubes with black pepper sauce, and many more.

From the poultry section, it is recommended to choose the delicate Bebek Betutu – duck’s leg braised in 20 types of herbs and spices and topped with sambal matah. The Lollipop Chicken Salt and the Salted Fish Crispy Kailan would also serve well as the accompaniments. The latter is a unique combination of crisply fried kailan leaves, the mild texture from cooked stems, and salted fish.

With its extravagant look, it is no wonder that Eastern Opulence also becomes a perfect venue for events such as weddings or even fashion shows. On a personal level, it’s also a place for give a special treat for your loved ones or a perfectly amicable family dinners. After all, Indonesian food is best when eaten together and Eastern Opulence has many things to share with you for that.


This article was published in Passion Magazine

Markoek: Innovating Beyond the Boundaries of Indonesian Traditional Snacks

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)

3 Hotel Kekinian Wajib Coba untuk Staycation di Jakarta

Tinggal di ibukota Jakarta bukanlah hal yang mudah bagi sebagian orang. Kehidupan perkotaan diwarnai kesibukan dan tuntutan hidup yang tinggi. Seringkali ini memberikan dampak stres bagi banyak orang. Nah, apalagi sekarang di masa pandemi. Berbagai kebiasaan lama dipaksa berubah demi hidup yang aman dan sehat. Di tengah keadaan yang rumit ini, liburan menjadi salah satu opsi menarik untuk mengembalikan ketenangan diri. Meski demikian demi alasan kesehatan, kita juga belum dianjurkan untuk melakukan perjalanan ke luar kota. Itulah mengapa staycation di Jakarta menjadi alternatif menarik dan masuk akal untuk dicoba.

Pemandangan kota Jakarta 180 derajat.
Segudang pilihan staycation di Jakarta seru untuk dicoba! (Foto: Tom Fisk/Pexels)

Memaknai arti staycation di Jakarta

Staycation sebagai sebuah liburan yang dilakukan dengan cara menetap di sebuah penginapan yang ada di kota sendiri. Hal ini sudah menjadi kebiasaan populer di berbagai kota besar seperti Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya, dan juga lainnya.

Konon, gaya liburan seperti ini pertama kali berkembang di Amerika pada tahun 2003, dan kini telah menyebar di berbagai negara. Dari hanya sekadar berakhir pekan seru, ataupun hingga merayakan berbagai hari raya, staycation menjadi cara menarik untuk berlibur.

Staycation di Jakarta dimulai dari membuka pintu kamar hotel.
Berlibur akhir pekan tak perlu pusing lagi dengan konsep staycation dalam kota.

Tiga pilihan hotel yang unik untuk dicoba

Beberapa hotel staycation Jakarta berikut bisa menjadi pilihan menarik untuk kalian yang ingin staycation bersama teman-teman ataupun keluarga. Yuk, simak apa saja pilihannya!

1.      Park 5 Simatupang

Berlokasi dekat dengan CITOS, Park 5 Simatupang ini merupakan hotel yang memiliki gaya arsitektur modern dengan desain interior yang kekinian. Setiap balkonnya menawarkan pemandangan Jaksel yang begitu berwarna. Semua fasilitas penunjang juga disiapkan secara lengkap – seperti wifi, AC, TV, teko listrik, bahkan kamar mandi pribadi yang dilengkapi dengan shower dan amenities.

Tak kalah menariknya, nikmati fasilitas kolam renang serta menyantap aneka hidangan lezat a la Indonesia maupu Barat di restorannya yang keren.

2.      Couleur Hotel Cengkareng

Siapa yang menyangka kalau ada hotel kekinian tampil di dekat Bandara internasional Soekarno-Hatta? Nah, Couleur Hotel Cengkareng adalah pilihan yang tepat. Tak hanya dekat dengan bandar, hotel ini juga berlokasi strategis dengan berbagai pusat perbelanjaan di Jakarta Barat.

Desain modern dan industrialis yang sangat kental di hotel ini juga sangat instagrammable, tak sulit menemukan spot untuk foto-foto yang keren. Fasilitas penunjang juga lengkap seperti AC, TV, minibar, bahkan kamar mandi pribadi dengan shower dan perlengkapan mandi. Wifi yagn kencang menjadi penunjan untuk kamu yang ingin upload video atau foto saat staycation di sana!

3.      Hotel Akmani

Sementara itu, hotel staycation keren yang satu ini berlokasi sentral di pusat kota dan perbelanjaan sekitaran Thamrin. Itulah Hotel Akmani yang bertempat di Jalan KH Wahid Hasyim, sungguh dekat dengan sentra kuliner Sabang.

Staycation di sini sungguh memuaskan karena fasilitas berupa gym, kolam renang, restoran, bahkan tempat spa juga tersedia. Begitupun setiap kamarnya dilengkapi dengan AC, wifi, minibar, teko listrik, serta kamar mandi pribadi dengan shower dan amenities.

Pastinya sudah tidak sabar untuk staycation, dong? Langsung saja pesan melalui Traveloka. Tak hanya ketiga hotel tadi, masih banyak pilihan hotel staycation Jakarta lainnya yang tidak kalah menarik. Apalagi Traveloka selalu memberikan diskon menarik. Sudah siap untuk staycation di Jakarta akhir pekan ini? Jangan lupa untuk selalu menjaga hygiene dimanapun kamu berada, ya!

Charins Chang, The Explorer of Textures

Charins Chang’s passion for science and baking brought her to Indonesia after many years living abroad. In no time, she has captured the hearts of many through her well-crafted cakes and desserts. What are her hopes and struggles living the dream in Jakarta? Here, Charins shared the story for everyone.  

What got you into baking in the first place?

I started baking since high school and that’s because Betty Crocker’s brownie mix. I was amazed even with the process of just mixing the powder with water and then it becomes a cake. But the reason why I love baking is because it is so closely related with science and all about the chemical reactions! You don’t really see it with your eyes but it’s happening.

Did you study at a cooking school after that?

Interestingly, I went to Australia not to learn more about baking, but I was studying Biotechnology for five years there. After graduation, I moved back to Singapore and started working in the petroleum bioengineering industry. However, I never lose my love for baking. I did it almost every night and shared the cakes with my friends, to the point that my family became so sick of my baking! (she laughs)

That’s why I started my cake business online on charins.com and then after a year, I finally decided to study more properly about pastry. I did a bit of school in France and an internship with a champion pastry chef there. I was immersing myself with the language and the countryside, steering away from Paris. After that, it’s time to move to Jakarta.

What made you move to Jakarta instead of Singapore?

My parents have always been very supportive with my plans and when I told them that I want to move back here, everyone came along! We all still visit Singapore from time to time though.

Why Jakarta? I think it’s because the people are more chilled and fun here. There’s also something charming about the city, despite of course – the traffic. I saw also a high demand for quality desserts and pastries in Jakarta, but you could only find a handful of good pastry shops here a few years ago when I came. That’s the opportunity that I had been looking for.

What happens next?

Originally, the reason why I moved back was to open my own dessert shop here. After a few years though, it’s easier said than done. I don’t want to just jump in recklessly and struggling unnecessarily just because I needed more experience in the industry. So, I decided to just take my time exploring the city and looking for opportunities. I keep my Instagram active and the online cake shop helps me get by.

From there, turns out that I received a lot of opportunities for consulting, creating menu, and for supplying. There’s even this café from Myanmar which was asking to collaborate. Benedict and Heavenly Sweet found me also on Instagram.

Care to share us a bit about your dessert creations?

When I first joined Benedict, I revamped the whole dessert menu. That time, there was this hype for the Thai mango desserts, and I decided to jump in by creating my own interpretations. Surprisingly, the Mango Sticky Rice Tart was a huge success and people started posting about it.

I also created a sister dessert for it called Tart Ketan Item – with coconut and black sticky rice. It’s basically a twist of our traditional dessert of bubur ketan hitam. There’s also Marie Regal Cake because yes, everyone loves Marie Regal!

I also started making bite-sized desserts like bonbons since people are not always wanting to eat a whole cake. In each bonbon, I created a whole dessert that can consists of elements found in cakes, crunch, cookies, and ganache. I put also many things like potato chips, wajik, nastaar, and talam. For my creations, I just love doing my own formulations instead of copying recipes.

Why bonbons by the way?

I’m more interested in chocolate because it’s very science-y and no one’s making bonbons seriously yet as far as I know. I suppose it’s because the high level of difficulty to mass produce it. Bonbons must be made carefully because it won’t be good otherwise. You need to temper chocolate to a certain degree, or the fat crystals won’t crystallize properly so it won’t get the good snap. It’ll be pasty, thick, and won’t have good texture.

But I think the challenge is that most people may find it hard to understand why it costs the same as buying a whole chocolate bar instead. That’s why I’m trying to find the middle ground here to still maintain the quality but also creating time efficiency.

Lastly, what are you plans next?

Opening my own shop, that’s for sure! But for now, I enjoy teaching at Heavenly Sweet every month. I have own classes and I also create my own syllabus based on science! We do one-on-one series about sponge cake, butter cake, pound cake, or only egg whites. We explore why each recipe is made different, why adding this and that yield different results, or how to decrease the sugar content without compromising texture. It’s not about the usual recipe sharing class and for you to bake at home. It’s about how to make the student think more about the process and how to remake recipe in their own version. Other than that, I am also sharing my expertise about baking with less fortunate kids. We are creating these baking classes for them and showing that everyone can bake. We want to let them know that they have options in this industry for their future.


Featured on Passion Magazine

Fernando Sindu, The Effervescent Chef

Always on the move, the energetic Chef Fernando Sindu is forever seeking new ways to improve himself and expanding beyond borders. With several restaurants under his leadership now, the sky’s still the limit. Join us as he told a story about his struggles and a recipe for you to try at home.

How was it in the beginning for you?

I always have that one wish to become a chef since I was in high school. However, my dad declined my proposition as he was very conservative when it comes about education and career. It happened again when I was about to enter college, and that’s why I have a degree in computer science!

But, upon seeing that I was very persistent to pursue my career as a chef, he eventually agreed to let me try it. However, he wanted me to choose only the best school and the choices were between Le Cordon Bleu of Paris and Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in New York. I chose the latter for language reason and thus began my life as a New Yorker.

How was the New York story then?

I graduated after a year and eight months from CIA and started working at Michelin-starred restaurants. First at Oceana, it was one Michelin-starred and specializing in seafood. The second one was at Boqueria and it was among the best Spanish restaurants in the city.

I worked there for around three years and I really enjoyed it. Under the guidance of Chef Jason Hua – famous now as the head chef for The Dutch in New York, I was entrusted as a sous chef there. But quite unfortunately, I was only able to stay there until 2012.

What happened?

Found out that foreigners – especially in upper management positions, were having a hard time to extend their working visa around that time. It was the election year and the reasons were purely political.

Boqueria had plans to expand and I was promised for a head chef position. The restaurant sponsored my visa, and we even hired a lawyer to try to win this but to no avail. Disappointed, I returned home, but my dad encouraged me to start my own place here in Jakarta.

While waiting for the opportunity to open my own restaurant at Kemang Village – which eventually did not happen, I met with a fellow CIA alumnus – Ivan Wibowo. Seeing that the private dining business was not a thing yet in 2012, together we formed up Good For Eats (G48). I received ample advice from the pioneer himself – Chef Adhika Maxi, about the know-how in the business. He had been well-known in the business, years ahead from us.

Tell us your career journey here in Jakarta starting from there.

Our first gig was with a huge company’s executives and the private dinner was priced at 350,000 rupiahs per head. We barely made a profit, but it was the experience we had been looking for. From there the words start spreading and we did around two gigs per month.

Not wanting to be complacent, we actively sought other opportunities. We approached The Cook Shop and they agreed to let us run the place for a pop-up gig once a week. The audience liked it and after quite some time, they wanted us to do it every Saturday and Sunday instead!

Our next target was a restaurant back then at Panglima Polim, Mama Goose. They let us run the pop-up during the weekdays and we began picking up more attention. Offers coming in for collaborations, but it was with Union Group that we finally landed the deal. With them, together we built Benedict and it now opens at Grand Indonesia and Pacific Place. My latest project was Cork & Screw Country Club at Senayan Golf – a brand new addition to Union Group’s already long list of esteemed restaurants.

How do you define your cooking style?

I like to be inspired from many cuisines of the world. I also like my dishes to have stronger flavors. I feel very energetic every day and that’s why I like to bring up a wide spectrum of flavors in my dishes – from acidity, a bit of bitterness, salty, spicy, and umami. For the past two years however, I have been diligently playing with more Indonesian flavors.

That side was inspired by my Manadonese wife who love to take me around many Indonesian eateries, especially the cuisine of her people. Many of these are places that I won’t normally visit by myself. That, and the encouragement from a friend of mine who wanted me to do a cooking demo for Ubud Food Festival prompted me to learn more about Indonesian food.

How do you see the Indonesian food movement nowadays?

I’ve had my fair share of experience living abroad, becoming a chef at Michelin-starred restaurants, and working with great people. However, we will never be truly credited if we, as Indonesians, don’t promote our own cuisine to that level. I have a dream that someday my restaurant will get that one place among the ranks of San Pellegrino’s 50 Best Restaurants. But surely, we must all work harder for that.

So, for us to be appreciated by these institutions – like Michelin also for example, we also need to improve the palate of our diners. I’ve seen by myself that Indonesians still order the same menu every day. It’s mostly rice-related dishes for Asian cuisines, or pasta aglio olio for Western. Indonesians need to be more adventurous than this, so chefs and restaurants can come up with creative ideas to serve their diners from time to time.

Other than this, there are friends who have been collaborating with the government to promote the Indonesian cuisine. Albeit limited, we’re yet to see good progress in the future. As for me, I’m planning to travel more for the next two years and see how far Indonesian food can take me. There are more markets to visit and more traditional food stories that I need to discover.

Can you tell us about what you are serving today?

Satay is a highly versatile dish and you can easily cook, you can carry anywhere, and a lot of twists I can play with. Today I have prepared Sate Maranggi with pickles and crispy rice, Balinese Sate Udang with Base Genep seasonings and sambal matah, and lastly – we have the classic Sate Ayam.

I’m creating a platter here that everyone can try at home or alternatively, you can instead cut the meat into cubes and grilled it. I hope you can enjoy my recipe here.


Featured on Passion Magazine