Fancy a noodle burger? East meets West in Indonesian fusion food

 07 May 2017 - 8:03

Fancy a noodle burger? East meets West in Indonesian fusion food
This picture taken on January 18, 2017 shows Indonesian food stylist Dade Akbar displaying some of his food in Jakarta. AFP / ADEK BERRY

By Dessy Sagita | AFP

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. It also serves burrito, quesadillas and sushi dishes made with the noodles.

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.

Gourmet street food

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.

Satisfied with his creation, he took out a camera and snapped pictures from various angles, before uploading them to Instagram. It was his popular Instagram account "Warteg Gourmet", which currently has about 40,000 followers, that catapulted him to fame.

Wartegs are modest stalls or kiosks selling cheap food, often cramped spaces on street corners where blue-colour workers stop for a bite and to smoke a cigarette. 

But rather than drab dishes for people earning low incomes, Akbar said he celebrates warteg food as it has "different textures and a wide range of colours that we can play with".

Akbar was inspired to make haute-cuisine, warteg-style food after becoming annoyed at the careless presentation of dishes at the traditional streetside 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.

He hopes his efforts can help raise the profile of humble Indonesian street food, which is not as well-known as local cuisine from other parts of Asia, such as Thailand.

"I want to make Indonesian food more appreciated by Indonesians in general and recognised internationally," he said. 
 

Related News

arrow Read More
Become a kitchen pro in 3 dishes

 06 May 2017 - 13:03

What makes a recipe a keeper? When it's the kind of dish that is easy to master and flexible enough to riff on. It's something you could never get tired of eating and worth serving to your friends. Here are three recipes that fit the bill.

arrow Read More
A good-for-you addition to the lemon-poppy seed continuum

 02 May 2017 - 15:12

his brightly lemony quick bread, punctuated with gently crunchy poppy seeds, is sweet and tender enough to satisfy a cake craving, but it does so in a much better-for-you way.

arrow Read More
6 foods to eat for a mood boost

 27 Apr 2017 - 17:06

If you've ever found bliss in a bite of chocolate or smiled when someone offered you a french fry, then you know food can make you happy. But while it's true that your favorite treat may give you a brief emotional lift, sustained mood-boosting brain power can only come from a consistent supply of nutritious foods.