Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A visit to Will Meyrick's Hujan Locale in Ubud

It's been raining hard for some while that afternoon in Ubud, and the streets color in Waze has turned red signalling heavy traffic everywhere. As we passed through some shortcuts to evade those traffic jams, it begun to look like our car are driving on a river stream instead of on a road. Thankfully Ubud sits on a hill instead of on a flat lands like Jakarta so the waters quickly ran away instead of forming impassable pools.

Nonetheless we still need to wait for some while in our car, looking for a good timing to step out as weren't sure our tiny umbrellas will be able to save us from getting drenched on our way to Hujan Locale.

We weren't deterred with all the situation though, as we're quite thrilled to try out Will Meyrick's newest restaurant "Hujan Locale" and what sort of uniqueness he puts on the table this time. I always find Will Meyrick's Kitchen Sessions fascinating so I'm kind of setting a high expectation for the dinner. And after all, a visit to Hujan Locale wouldn't be complete without some actual rain wouldn't it?

Hujan Locale

Occupying the building where Jendela Frech Bistro was, next to the buzzing Seniman Coffee, parking space is always an issue, especially for cars. However as Hujan Locale located quite close to the street's southern entrance, guests can park their cars at the public parking space near Anomali Coffee and walk a short distance to the venue.

Hujan Locale is Will Meyrick's fifth restaurant after Sarong and Mama San, both in Bali, E&O in Jakarta, and Mama San Hong Kong. Later this year according to Hujan Locale's PR Lia, there will be another restaurant opening in Malaysia, and two more in Bali: one is Maluku and the other is Mama San Thai.

Hujan Locale itself takes shape as an extension to the localization effort Will Meyrick has already done in Sarong, and focusing more on the slow food kinds, with "found and foraged" and "farm to table" style cooking. That means, expect to see some creative recreation of both local and international dishes on the menu.

Greeted by the staff, we were quickly ushered into our table where Lia has already waiting there for some time.

While there's not much of a view outside, the rustic comfortable French Vietnam atmosphere do help sets the guests mood in a comfortable laid back mode. To adds some accent to the relaxing atmosphere, you can find simplistic illustration prints on parts of the restaurant, including on its plates.

The Eating Experience

After consulting with our host Lia, we begun our dining experience with some entrees that together will provide a good insight into what Hujan Locale is all about. So let's jump in!

First came the wood-roasted bone marrow with parsley lemon garlic capers andaliman bread crumbs with gentlemen’s relish and brioche (IDR 70K). The home made brioche was soft, and it was seared with a bit of butter to achieve its crusty surface. The bone marrow itself has a mild and creamy flavour, it has a melt in your mouth consistency, while the roasting adds in a smoky aroma to the bone marrow.

Next came the Portuguese squid ink rice with crispy calamari and gremolata aioli (80K). Blackened using the squid ink, the dish looks striking in its white plate. It has a slightly umami taste and what best described as a gentle sea flavor, which provides a nice tease to my taste buds. The chunks of squid meat in between the dish also provides a good contrast between the softness of the black rice, and the rubbery character of the squid. It's easy to say that this squid ink rice was one of the high notes of our dinner in Hujan Locale Ubud.

The Home salted Balinese grouper with sambal matah torch ginger flower was the most surprising dish as we weren't expecting ikan asin, even though the menu clearly written so. Drawing inspiration from the Portuguese Bacalhau, it's a mix of softened salted fish and assorted Balinese spices, which was quite an unfamiliar territory to me. Not that I disliked salted fish, it was just that I never had it with toasted bread, or cooked in such way. I'm curious how it would taste with some lime juice added in though, and pairs it with some crackers or Indian bread.

Next came the Head to tail goat sausage paired with "rujak", it contains all of the goat parts in coarse chunks, which creates the nice crumbly meat texture in the midst of the chewy casing. Surprisingly it has a proper goat character that stopped before going overboard, hence my very picky eating partner when it comes to meat can enjoy it as well.

The accompanying rujak while provided a balancing zest and spiciness, sits quite in a far end of the spectrum thus creating a high contrast to the sausage. It's among the spiciest zestiest very Indonesian taste I have ever encountered, and it comes from a bule chef, in a such fine restaurant. Amazing.

The Smoked “mac and cheese” with sour cream fenugreek cumin and chat masala (50K) serves as a safe getaway for our 6 years old, whose taste bud hasn't really welcomes the more mature flavor palette. By the way it was all good for adults as well, should you crave for one.

And that's all of the entrees we crazily ordered, forgotten that Will Meyrick's dishes seldom comes in single portion. So there we were, already gasping for breath when we finally arrived to the main section of the dinner.

Crispy fish served with a sweet chili sauce coriander lime leaf and deep fried basil (150K) was a nice surprise, the sauce brings sweetness and just mild spiciness that enhance the goodness of a crispy fried fish. Added as the accent was the fried basil and curry leaves (temurui) that usually found in Acehnese Ayam Tangkap dish. Nicely done!

Hujan’s spice rubbed seared rib eye steak served with wood roasted garlic confit tomato and a mint gribiche (160K) was definitely a dark horse of the dinner, as it possessed the tenderness and flavorsome quality rarely found in local beef. Paired it with the creamy sauce, the roasted tomato, and the succulent roasted garlic, it created a merry composition that compliment each other really well. Top notch.

The Farm raised organic spring chicken with madras butter roasted pumpkin carrots cassava apple black radish and mustard leaf kachoori salad (100K) is another dish well done. I love how the chicken attains the good balance of moistness and the firmness. The flavor has a noticeable zesty character that goes well with the chicken's natural savoury flavour. The crusted rubs you see flocked on the chicken skin provides a flavorsome addition to the chicken. Kudos for serving cassava instead of the usual potatoes, and generally I just love baked veggies and this one was done well. The provided salad, again, put a nice contrast into the savory zesty dish.

Thank you Will Meyrick and the wonderful Hujan Locale people for the invitation. (byms)

Hujan Locale
A hedonistic harvest enriching the cuisine of Asia with the heritage of ‘home’

Open 12noon - 3pm
And 6pm - 11pm

Jalan Sri Wedari 5,
Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
+62 361 849 3092

What's Next?

Find more Hujan Locale pictures on Instagram using hashtag #hujanlocale, or see more of the pictures here:
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Sunday, January 4, 2015

Challenge Chef faces in cooking Indonesian dishes

One of the challenges in recreating Indonesian cuisine in modern restaurant kitchen, according to chef Michael Whyag of Oh Ham Retreat in Tirta Tawar Ubud, lies in conversion. That's because most commercial chefs are trained in French way of cooking, while Indonesian food, as well as many other Asian cuisines, are cooked using quite different methods than French cuisine does.

While the challenge to adjust the cooking method might be minimum, there is also a challenge in the cooking process, and this is the harder one. Modern kitchens are built according to French cooking standard, which requires different set of cooking tools than Indonesian traditional kitchen needs. For example, many Indonesian dishes require mortar and pestle to prepare the spice paste, that upon recreated using the electric blender in modern kitchen, usually resulted in less flavorful compound. This is also the reason why on many modern Indonesian houses, you will still often find the mortar and pestle, regardless that it might also has an electric blender or even food processor.

The challenge in cooking style and tools therefore, makes the most of what chefs can do with a French kitchen is a "feels like" kind of food, where those Indonesian menu that can be reproduced using French cooking technique usually achieves a good reproduction result, like Sop Buntut (Oxtail soup) which makes Borobudur Hotel in Jakarta famous for it. While those that requires specific traditional preparation, or requires traditional cooking tools, often achieves only a so-so performance. (byms)
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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sharing a Love of Street Food at Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (UWRF) 2014

It took me by a complete surprise when Ibu Janet De Neefe offered the chance to participate in Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2014. I read her invitation email several times to make sure I wasn't misinterpreting her message, and I was so excited I don't think I've sent her a proper thank you yet!

To better explain the magnitude of Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (UWRF), it brings together no less than 150 writers from around Indonesia and 25 other countries, sharing their view on global issues, big ideas and extraordinary stories. With this magnitude, UWRF might be the most important annual International event in Ubud, hence feeling thrilled and dwarfed at the same time is a bit normal reaction I guess.

As a foodie, I find UWRF becomes even more interesting when it begun to incorporate culinary topics and workshops performing national renowned hosts like William Wongso, Bondan Winarno, and Chef Wan from our neighboring country Malaysia.

The Event

Representing Bali food bloggers, I will be doing a blogger sharing session on the first day of Kitchen Sessions, side by side with Ibu Amanda Katili Niode from Omar Niode Foundation.

Ibu Amanda herself is Chair of Omar Niode Foundation, a nonprofit organization in Indonesia working to raise awareness on the quality of education and human resources in the field of agriculture, food, and culinary arts. She's also Indonesia’s First Certified Culinary Travel Professional of The World Food Travel Association, as well as member of National Council on Climate Change, and Manager of The Climate Reality Project Indonesia. We've met before on one of the event she sponsored in Bali about creative cuisine and sustainable tourism.

As the topic, we settled on sharing our stories about Street Foods. Yes, those good ol' culinary treats you enjoy side by side with the bustling traffic!

Why does it matters? Because beside of its yummy and cheap price, they often act as the front runners in promoting the local cuisine culture, as well as becoming inseparable part of a traveling experience.

This feat will be in line with my contributions into the writing of Makansutra Indonesia 2013 Guide book last year, and series of article writings I've done for in-flight and food magazines outlining the beauty of Bali's street foods.

To accompany the street food experience, I will also bring variety of street food satays for the audience to sample.

Should you're in Ubud for the festival, don't forget to stop by. It's free and there's 20 seats only! (byms)

More information about The Kitchen Program.
More information about UWRF
More information about Omar Niode Foundation.

Location map:

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The cost of FREE dinner invitation for a food blogger

As food bloggers are more often and often getting invited to fancy dinners, it's no wonder that this hobby is quickly viewed as an alluring one; especially considering dinner invitations held by famous restaurants and hotels are ranging between 600K to 900K, or 1.2Mil IDR including wines or cocktails.

However should you are familiar with the phrase "With great powers comes great responsibilities," those dinner invitations usually comes with an unwritten obligation. Quickly recognized as alternative media, food bloggers too, are expected to broadcast about the event on their own media channels; blog and social network, so there's no such thing as a free loading folks!

Therefore while those invitations in your inbox might excites you, or even makes you proud, let's have a look at what's really going on.

The Costs

Wait? What costs? Aren't we talking about FREE invitations?

Well yeah, but let's not forget that it still requires time, and time is your biggest asset. In this case then, to be able to produce a quality writing, the blogger must go through a series of pre and post-event activities, for example:
  1. Research: what's being recommended the most, what's the chef specialities: 30 minutes
  2. Travelling back and forth: 1-2 hours
  3. Food tasting, taking photos, and interviewing the chef: 3-4 hours
  4. Photo editing: 2-4 hours
  5. Writing: 2-4 hours
  6. Publishing multiple photos on Twitter, Intagram, Facebook: 30 minutes-1 hour
Hence for a night out enjoying fancy dinners, there's at least 9 hours required for pre and post efforts, not to mention the 1-2 hours spent for exercising and recovery to burn those extra calories.

If you value your time for as low as 100K IDR/hour, that means you spent 900K IDR worth of efforts for committing to one FREE dinner invitation. And that's excluding travel expenses, camera's cost, internet bills or electricity. Or the pain of building up your skill to become the food blogger you are now.

Suddenly the "FREE" invitations doesn't sound like one any more eh?

The Rewards

To be fair though, let's have a look at rewards offered from such invitations:
  1. A good night out
  2. Content for your blog
  3. Acquaintance with chefs and their cooking styles
  4. Chance of networking with people in the industry
  5. Expanding your gastronomic knowledge
  6. Goodie bags, sometimes
  7. Etc.
While there's no real money put on the table, depending what you're food blogging for, you might find those rewards interesting, and worth the efforts. 

I myself found #3 and #4 worth for now (and #6 for the wifey), that's why I do accepts dinner invitation, especially when there will be interesting people attending.

What about you? Do you find dinner invitations worth the time spent, and why? (byms)
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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Menikmati Waffle ala Hong Kong di Lapangan Niti Mandala Renon

Bagi yang penasaran dengan Waffle ala Hong Kong, di seberang Lapangan Niti Mandala Renon sekarang Eggie Waffle buka food truck setiap malam, dan kalau hari Minggu plus pagi-pagi. Waffle ala Hong Kong ini berbeda dibanding waffle tebal empuk bersiram sirup yang biasa ditemui, karena Hong Kong Waffle ini memiliki terstur garing dan renyah di luar, dan tidak disiram sirup tapi memiliki isi yang beraneka macam sesuai pilihan.

Pilihan variasinya beragam, mulai dari pilihan rasa wafflenya, hingga ke pilihan isinya. Selain dari Hong Kong Waffle, Eggie juga menjual minuman coklat, baik yang dingin maupun panas. Adapun kisaran harganya sendiri cukup terjangkau antara Rp. 10.000 dan Rp. 20.000.

Kalau datang ke sini Minggu pagi, jangan lupa pakai pakaian santai dan lebih asik lagi kalau sekaligus berolah-raga, atau sekedar menonton aksi para muda-mudi Denpasar yang tumpah ruah di saat car-free hours ini. (byms)

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Indonesian Hell's Kitchen coming soon

The Hollywood Reporter recently published that Indonesia will have its own flavour of Gordon Ramsey's Hell's Kitchen soon, as ITV Studios Global Entertainment announced the selling of its first deal for the show in Asia, to Indonesian broadcaster SCTV.

SCTV has commissioned 25 of the 60 minute episodes of the show to be aired later this 2014, and it will be hosted by the local chef Juna Rorimpandey, a.k.a. Chef Juna (@JunaRorimpandey), the jury of Indonesian Master Chef, dubbed as "Indonesia's wildest, hell-raising chef" by CNN Travel.

The heavily tattooed, Harley-riding chef Juna will tests both the performance and gut of competing amateur chefs, eliminating them one by one until a champion is born.

Want to take a part? Visit Hell's Kitchen Indonesia to register for an audition.

With Indonesian TV stations practically thrown in every kind of drama possible for the sake of rating though, and Hell's Kitchen has been known worldwide for its dramatic quality, I hope this Indonesian Hell's Kitchen will also provide an educating and entertaining cooking show. (byms)

Source & photo of Hell's Kitchen from The Hollywood Reporter.

Photo of Chef Juna from CNN Travel.
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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Tempe in Indonesia: staple food in the past, import-dependent goods today

As a kid growing up on Tempe and Tahu, I can say with high confidence and authority that they're part of Indonesian staple food, as well as unseparated part of every Indonesian family. Not only tasted great eaten alone or with sambal, they're easy to prepare, and (used to be) dead cheap.

This tempe's synonimity with the poor however, once borne a negative notion of "mental tempe" to call someone with short vision, weak will, and low self-esteem -- despite Tempe's high nutritional properties.

Fast forward to nowadays, while Tempe and Tahu are still a national favourite, some things have changed for worse:
  1. Tempe and Tahu still affordable but no longer considered as a dead cheap product
  2. Sometimes there's a shortage of Tempe and Tahu in the market, because...
  3. The price of imported soybeans is keep on rising, because...
  4. Most (if not all) soybeans used to create Tempe and Tahu, are imported from either US or Brazil
What does it mean? If you eat Tempe and Tahu regularly now, then you're one of those people that fancy imported food -- which is not a big deal though, since the rice you eat will probably came from another country as well.

Seeing the facts, then it's not surprising that a recent Food Magazine Australia article "NT farmers push for increased exports to Indonesia" wrote about Northern Territory's farmer aim of fulfilling Indonesia's import needs of soybean, especially since it still lacked behind their export of cattle:
"Last year the state exported $230 million worth of cattle, but only $6 million worth of horticulture products, ABC Rural reports.

The Northern Territory Farmers Association (NTFA) has recommended more be done to tap into the Indonesian market, in its submission to the federal government’s Northern Australia Development White Paper.

Chief executive of the NTFA, Gran Fenton said Australia needs to shift its focus into commodities that Indonesia wants, like soybeans, sugar, cotton and peanuts.

'They import an enormous amount of soybeans from the US and Brazil, [so] that's the kind of stuff we need to be connecting to,' Fenton said."
Not that I'm specifically against the NTFA plan of fulfilling Indonesia's need of imported soybeans, or sugar, cotton, and peanuts -- since we'd still need to import it from somewhere else -- my concern lies on this nation's food defense and its people: what would happen, when the import cost is continually rising, but the people's income level are not?

Not to mention the fact outlined in Indonesia: why food self-sufficiency is different from food security, that currently Indonesia is a net importer of all of its major staple food commodities, including rice, maize, cassava, soybeans and sugar, even though domestic production of each of these commodities is substantial.

Indonesia has surely went so far, from one very rich country sung in children songs, to becoming a record-breaking country in imports these days. Don't you think so? (byms)

Photo from Wikipedia: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sliced_tempeh_(cropped).jpg
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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Amazing High Cliff Tea at Karma Kandara Resort Bali

Karma Kandara! We were thrilled when finally got the time to visit this beautiful resort in full team, after some schedule misalignments. Located about an hour away from the Airport, Karma Kandara is reached by heading south past the Garuda Wisnu Kencana (GWK) complex, then keep heading south off the main street following the sign board posted at the intersections. Keep in mind that you're heading to the Southernmost beach of Bali, so don't get distracted by the main traffic that most likely are heading towards Uluwatu or elsewhere in Southwest Bali.

Known as one of the most beautiful resorts in Bali, Karma Kandara Resort houses 70 private villas, which half of them are privately owned, and half are for rent. Our destination on this trip is Di Mare restaurant, one of three eateries existed within the Karma Kandara complex.

Reaching Di Mare Restaurant in Karma Kandara

There's a parking space within a short distance to Di Mare restaurant, so make sure to follow the sign board that says "Di Mare" instead of "Karma Kandara Resort" at the final intersection. From this parking space, Di Mare is reached through a corridor with limestone walls, that emits the rustic feeling.

Literally mean "The Ocean" in Italian, Di Mare is set on top of a steep cliff overlooking the infinity pool lies below, and the vast blue ocean that marked the southernmost part of Bali island. With its breath taking view, Di Mare restaurant is such an extraordinary venue to spend your afternoon at.

Di Mare's High Cliff Tea 

Di Mare some while ago launched a High Cliff Tea promotion, available from 3 pm to 5 pm where guests are treated to selections of sweet and savory snacks, along with a choice of tea or coffee.

The snacks are presented in three tiered tray, offering savoury treats of three different sandwiches, each filled with either cured salmon, tuna, or chicken. There are also some Sushi rolls, and Thai springrolls to pleases your palate.

On the sweet treats selection, there's muffin, cookies, delicious cheesecake with coconut crumbles, and what turned out to be the very succulent, creamy, dark chocolate brownies, best we've had in a long while.

While the food in general was good and fulfilling, we can't help but feeling they're quite minor compared with the amazing view that lies before us.

Since people says that a picture speaks a thousand words, then I'll let these beautiful pictures speak for themselves.

Temple Bar and Lounge

Sits right above Di Mare restaurant, is another Karma Kandara premise that provides the even better spots to witness the majestic sunset here in Karma Kandara.

Karma Beach Club

Steps away from Di Mare to the south, lies the entrance to the electric tram that take guests down through the almost vertical cliff of Karma Kandara, to where the Karma Beach Club are (previously called Nammos).

Our tram operator informed that there's a 200K IDR voucher purchase necessary for each person using the tram to Karma Beach Club down below, however the ride itself is free as the vouchers are used to pay for the meals and drinks guests ordered in Karma Beach Club.

Alternatively if you just want to enjoy the beach, there's a stairwell leading down from another part of Karma Kandara, however she warned that it has about 300 steps so make sure you have the necessary stamina.

It was already dark when we went down, so we didn't get to experience the crystal clear waters that Karma Beach Club visitors talk about, but it is for sure that we already had a blast of amusement during our short visit to Karma Kandara that afternoon.

Many thanks for Karma Kandara and Middleton Manning for introducing Karma's High Cliff Tea, the amazing Di Mare, Temple Lounge and Bar, and Karma Beach Club to Epicurina readers. (byms)

Note: All photos are taken using Samsung Galaxy Grand and underwent necessary editing. 

Karma Kandara Resort

Jalan Villa Kandara, Banjar Wijaya Kusuma, Ungasan, Bali, 80362 Indonesia
Phone : +62 (0) 361 848 2200 | Fax : +62 (0) 361 848 2244
Email : res@karmaresorts.com / info@karmaresorts.com
Web : www.karmakandara.com
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