Dear fellow tasters,
This year’s Jakarta Culinary Festival has ended but I still remember how it began, with an opening night dinner cooked up in a storm by Will & Will. Chef William Wongso (WW), Indonesian culinary expert and food critic – the Godfather of Indonesian cuisine, collaborated with Chef Will Meyrick (WM), chef and owner of award-winning Sarong and Mama San – the new guard of Indonesian cuisine, to showcase a tantalizing mouth-watering 14 (yes, fourteen!) courses of Indonesian dishes from unique regional recipes around the archipelago.
The dinner was served in the JCF Pop Up Restaurant, 4th October 2012, and started a bit late from the scheduled time. After some canapés and several glasses of Cape Discovery Margaret River Chardonnay 2011 and Rose 2011, the first course was brought to our table, a bowl of Sop biji-biji Ternate (WW), a delicious and warming Ternate island soup with fish and kenari nut ball.
Then from four appetizers listed on the menu book, three dishes managed to appear. The first, Bebek Kampung Lawar (WM) – shredded duck lawar with fern tips, crispy shallot, shrimp paste, chili, lemon – was a spicy and delightful Indonesian salad-like starter. Next, everyone on our table seemed to love the Burung Puyuh Tangkap Aceh (WM) – Aceh crispy quail tangkap with crispy curry leaf, pandan leaf and lime, a twist on the popular chicken version but with quail instead. I personally couldn’t get enough of the Mentho Yogya (WW) – steamed minced beef roll with sweet coconut cream wrapped in banana leaves, a hearty home-cooked-style Indonesian comfort food. All appetizers are wonderfully paired by Yohan Handoyo with Cape Discovery Margaret River Rose 2011 and Ohau Gravels Woven Stone Sauvignon Blanc 2011.
Then came the feasting! From nine main courses on the menu book, seven were actually served on our table. We started off with a soupy Udang Asam Pedas (WM) – prawns simmered in hot and sour broth with turmeric leaf and asam kandis. The belimbing wuluh (bilimbi) in the broth gave a stronger yet delectable tanginess and I would say that the dish beats tom yum soup any time. Then one by one, plates of Indonesian goodness came down and cramped the table: Tiram Goreng Tepung Pacri Melayu (WW) – fried oysters with Melayu pineapple pacri (chutney); Konro Bakar Sulawesi (WM) – grilled Makassar beef ribs simmered in black nut broth with peanut sauce; Ikan Tenggiri Masak Tauco Tangerang (WW) – braised king mackerel with Tangerang tauco and coconut cream; Oseng Jambal Pancing Cabe Hijau (WW) – stir fried salted fish with green chili, green tomato and pete (stinky beans); Gulai Kambing Banda Aceh (WM) – Aceh lamb shank curry with lemongrass, ginger flower and curry leaf; and Bebek Goreng Tiga Sambal Indonesia (WM) – twice cooked crispy duck with trio of Indonesian sambals.
Ah, all those Indonesian indulgences spoiled us and filled us up but we just couldn’t seem to stop. I couldn’t really name one or two favorites because they were all very delicious in their own distinct ways. The tasty oysters, the tender and spiced-up Konro, the scrumptious creamy Tenggiri with tauco (fermented soy bean) touch, the salty but delightful Jambal Pancing with the stinky pete, the delectable curry and the crispy well-executed Bebek Goreng. And as if those weren’t enough, there were side dishes, steamed white rice, nasi kuning – jasmine rice cooked in coconut milk and turmeric, roti canai and Kering Ubi Ungu (WM) – caramelized violet sweet potato which I loved very much, I wished I could bring a pack of the sweet crunchy chips-like treat home. And of course, all the feasting food was accompanied by two wines, Deetlefs Chenin Blanc 2011 and Marques de Riscal 1860 2008, Castilla y Leon.
When it was time for dessert, I felt already bursting, however I just couldn’t resist a spoon or two of the sample plate of Indonesian dessert (WM), consisting of Bahai Me Bolu – sugar syrup poached duck egg with durian, Klepon – black sticky rice ball with liquid palm sugar in the center, and Kue Deto – steamed coconut cake with jack fruit in pandan leaf. Then, there were the Jongkong Kelapa Muda (WW) – steamed rice cake with green coconut and palm sugar, and Kue Lumpur Kinca Duren (WW) – butternut pumpkin pan souffle with durian palm sugar sauce. I liked the latter one very much with the scrumptious duriany sauce, while the Jongkong tasted a bit bland, probably because it was somehow missing the palm sugar sauce.
My, it was truly an Indonesian feast, not your typical degustation dinner, but Indonesian-style degustation with all the food sharing and large portions. It was a very memorable experience for me, especially because I was much honored that Om William Wongso was kind enough to sit on an empty seat on our table and share his culinary experiences and passion for Indonesian cuisine. To conclude the dinner, Chef Will Meyrick also had his own surprise for us by soft-launching his Sarong Inspirations book, a collection of his signature Sarong dishes with travel and exploration stories behind each recipe. I went out of the Pop Up Restaurant, not only with a happy belly and indulged taste bud, but also with a copy of autographed Sarong Inspirations book, a picture with Om Will and Chef Will, and a memory of a life time.
The taster’s notes:
Favorite dish – almost all of them
What to try next time – is there going to be a next time?
Price rating – priceless
Damage – complimentary
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