Fancy a noodle burger? East meets West in Indonesian fusion foodArchive
JAKARTA: From a restaurant serving burgers and pizzas made with local noodles to a social media star giving street food a touch of haute cuisine, a new wave of innovative chefs are putting a modern twist on Indonesia’s traditional fare.
New eateries have sprung up rapidly in recent years in the capital Jakarta offering a wide array of foreign foods to cater to a growing consumer class which has emerged after a long economic boom.
But rather than focus entirely on cuisine from overseas, some chefs decided to fuse the new influences with age-old Indonesian foods.
One eatery offering fusion food is “Mammamie”, whose name is a playful take on an Italian expression of shock combined with the local word for noodles, “mie”. It uses the country’s favourite instant noodles, Indomie — cheap blocks of fodder in colourful packaging that are sold at almost every grocery store and supermarket — to make Western dishes.
Among the most popular are the “mizza”, a pizza whose base is made out of noodles, and a “merger”, a burger which has buns fashioned from Indomie.
Cafe owner Muhammad Luqman Baehaqi said he was trying to appeal to young Indonesians who were keen to try Western foods but still enjoyed Indomie. “There isn’t a single Indonesian person that doesn’t know Indomie,” the 39-year-old said. “It’s tasty and familiar to all of us.”
The small cafe can seat about 20 people on chairs designed to look like Indomie packing cases and has a distinctly hipster vibe, with young office workers enjoying dishes that cost the equivalent of about two to four dollars under an image of late Apple founder Steve Jobs.
While the “Mammamie” cafe uses Indonesian ingredients to spice up Western dishes, Jakarta chef Dede Akbar is taking local dishes as his starting point, and seeking to make them more classy.
In his brightly-decorated kitchen, the 34-year-old carefully placed two blocks of tempe — a traditional soybean patty — onto a plate. He blowtorched a hard-boiled egg, and added small flowers as a garnish before artistically dripping sauce across the dish.
Akbar was inspired to make haute-cuisine, warteg-style food after becoming annoyed at the careless presentation of dishes at the traditional street-side eateries.
What started off as a hobby became an obsession, and eventually Akbar found he was receiving so many invites to be a “food stylist” at events that he quit his day job as an advertising agency art director to become a full-time chef. “I want to make Indonesian food more appreciated by Indonesians in general and recognised internationally,” he said.
Published in Dawn, May 8th, 2017