Don’t miss the King while you’re in Medan


Who’s the King?

I don’t mean the royal. I mean the King of fruit, Durian.


The King of Medan; Durian Medan

I know that Durian is an acquired taste. Even the mighty Andrew Zimmern felt weak in the knee facing this amazing fruit. But if never tried it, how you know you don’t like it? Don’t judge food from it smell. Hey, if this javanese girl can take the smell of blue cheese and grew to like it, you can do the same with Durian.

Durian Medan will not be the same like those jumbo fruit on steroid stuff you might find at Singapore or Bangkok. Most of Durian Medan came from the forest, or forest like farm. It flesh won’t be as thick as Singaporean or Bangkok’s but the taste ….oooh…. so good. It got more depth, layers of different sweetness and texture.


These ones were on the bittery sweet side because it contain more alcohol in the fruit.

The most famous durian eating joint in Medan will be Ucok Durian. I personally won’t recommend this place for you if you came alone without the locals, because they unfortunately less friendly. I prefer to look for other Durian joints, that you can see a mountain pile of durians but less customer.


If you saw a huge pile like this, that means you have lots of option to choose from. So anywhere in Medan with mountains of thorny balls, you’ll be fine.


These were my favorite, so buttery with mild sweetness.

Why is that? Because most of Durian Medan are great, you won’t be difficult to eat deliciously. But you can have more attentive vendors that spent time to explain things for you, ask your preference of the fruit (mild sweet, very sweet or bitter sweet), provide you with water to wash your hands and other tiny extra services that you most likely won’t get it at the popular joint. Besides, you will be eating it on the spot. If the vendors gave you the bad fruit, ask them to replace that for you. Or if you don’t like the taste, not to your preference, ask them to replace it. Remember, only pay for the fruits you agreed on and eating. Don’t pay for the bad stuff. Whenever I come to Medan, I just stop by to any Durian joint crack one or two for my self, and I never disappointed.

Dude, please try some when you come to Medan. If you like it, that’s great! You’ve experienced one of the most intoxicating beauty of fruits in the world from my perspective. But if you didn’t like it, well at least you know for sure.


My mom just can’t wait me to take more pictures.


Oooh, she’s loving it. Don’t worry about funny face or a bit mess, every good food always like that.

Tribute to No Reservation


For those who shared the same funky love for food must know about this show that had been around for 8 season. The last episode of the last season was aired on November 2012 in the US. I’ve watched it on the internet, I cried for it but it never hit me with the realization, yet. Since I live in Indonesia, we always get every teve shows late. So when I saw the Brooklyn episode at TLC Asia and its rerun several times, the facts finally come to my conscious. And I managed to restrain the ugly sobbing, but it cut a chunk of my heart and left dark hole. The will never be another No Reservation episodes. It’s the end of an era.

For you guys who not quite sure what I’m babbling about, I tried to sum up one of the platinum quality food show in the world in one paragraph. I must warn you, it won’t do justice for the show, but at least you will got the picture and I’ll give several links for you to explore more.

No Reservation was food and travel show hosted by Anthony Bourdain. The whole show carved around Bourdain’s bold personality. He was a chef with rebellious attitude that only grant him with a unique charm. He is my rock star, like (maybe) Bono for you music enthusiast. Bourdain is what you call a “No Fuss” man. He’s not cheesy, always (or almost always) straightforwardly honest with his audience, expressed great respect for other culture no matter how odd or unpleasantly that is for him and encourage his audience to show the same respect too. Although he used effing words on the show, but you could not missed that he is actually a sweet natured guy. For me, Anthony Bourdain is like Durian. He is The King between all the great food and travel shows’ host. He seemed spiky, harsh and rough on the outside. But if you look closely and get to know his words more, its all sweet-creamy-custardy respectable man on the inside. No Reservation is (I think, at least), an archives of a delicious slice of Anthony Bourdain’s personality. The funny thing is, he is a chef and he knew what’s what in terms of cooking technique and food tasting, but he managed to keep the show clean from all those shallow-mambo-jambo ‘what the food taste like?’ most of newbie and not so good hosts showed. His expression of great food only limited (with its variations) with “Hmm…!” “That, effing good man!” , “Wow, this is good!” ….etc. But somehow I got the insight of how great the food was from his rather poetic rocker style descriptions of the food, the person who made it and the culture and environment arround it.  And I love him so bad for his wordings.

Well, it became a long one paragraph that still not done justice for the show or the host. So, please educate ourselves from these several links:

Now, I present to you all the great, glamorous and delicious of No Reservation, NRJS style;

The Super-Anti-Hero

Anthony Bourdain; The Super-Anti-Hero of food journalism

He cooks, he drinks, he writes all with the same intensity and competency

If God made anything better, he kept it for himself.

Anthony Bourdain’s passionate love for Crab Fat

He’s not just a pretty face (or fingers)

Speaking of fingers, his technique eating with his fingers improved over the years. The way he looked so comfy and confident, make me adore him more

Tony and sandwich is another great to watch chemistry. Either at home or by the street of Vietnam when he sample Banh Mi

He showed his poetic almost romantic wordings during episodes exposed him to the vast dessert

Daytime drinking is a tradition here, as it is in any great city.

Anthony Bourdain’s envious expression in Sydney, Australia

He has soft spots for any forms of noodles in a bowl with outstanding broth and spicy sauces. From pho to laksa, porky to fish flavored broth, noodles to vermicelli. He just can’t stop slurping …

Looking radiant on one of his good shirt. He’s been seen with ‘Not so good ones’ too, but he didn’t seemed care. One more thing why I love him so much

I think you are my walking buddha sir!

Anthony Bourdain’s fond for the man preparing his midnight meal (burgers or variations of meal on a tube)

Meat on a tube form? Yeah, give me that!

He’s willing to try all sorts of anonymous meat (as long as its on a tube form) touched me to tears

He drinks and drinks and drinks a lot of alcohol over the years

One of his toned down serious side

At the rice field he contemplated how it could be so easy just to live at the Asian paradise (for him it were either Vietnam or Bali). And that ‘Not so good shirt’ I was talking about

Laid back at plastic chair and table cloth with a beer waiting for his fried fish to come

Got to add this pic one more time; the background wall is a very well resemblance of him self: ruggedly charming with rough edges, masculine, colorful, stand out and pleasant

Last words at the last episode of the final season of No Reservation; Thank you Tony!

On to the next destination


Shabby chic ambiance in local hue


Wak Nur’s Coffee House

I went to Roemah Kopi Wak Nur (roemah = house, but it’s more like a cafe) at Uskup Agung street, Medan, North Sumatera a few months ago.

The coffee quite okay, nothing special for my preference, so did the food. They do have  house brand coffee, The Wak Nur’s brand that got good reviews from coffee enthusiast. But the waitress didn’t share any information about it to us, never promote or gave suggestions of the house specialities. I learn about it when I wandered around the cafe and browsing from the internet.

It’s the ambiance that remind me of it, unfortunately, not the menus. I like it a lot. Like Melayu meet Western or Baju Kurung paired with Cowboy boots or when Siti Nurbaya hooked up with John Wayne to decor this place.


Tables and chairs from worn woods met checker-boards floor toned down with pastel earth tones


Love that old window, oddly, it didn’t seem out of place and function like art works


The house brand


My drink; I think it was Iced Cappuccinno


Otak-otak, light finger foods from fish paste grilled in banana leaf. It didn’t go very well with my coffee.


Mira & Kiky, my cheeky cousin in law that brought me there

For more information about cafes and coffee shops/ house; Kopibrik is one of the better reference.

The most annoying comments for worlds class chefs (CNNGo’s report on World Gourmet Festival at Bangkok)


As cited from “How to annoy a world class chef”

Still in the same vibe with my previous post about food retard, a professional cook or chefs must be placed in the same category as painter or sculpture. They really are artists.

Well, being a world class artist come with many consequences. One of the bittersweet things are comments, remarks or questions from people who enjoyed their art. For chefs, they are the people who come to their restaurants.

feeling so annoyed behind that poker face

feeling so annoyed behind that poker face

We might think that world class chefs will be annoyed with shallow comments or questions from know it all person. Apparently, they have touchy and quite sensitive feelings about their arts. Here are some examples of what they feel most annoyed line from people, some of it quite surprising for me.

Chef Igor Macchia, La Credenza, Piedmont, Italy

 Your wife will be a really lucky lady

This is one of the most common comment pops in my head when I see a woman married a great chef. Evidently, most chef do not like to cook at home, hence Chef Macchia felt annoyed when he heard this sort of compliment.

Jeannie Cho Lee, Master of Wine

What is your favorite wine?

Just like when we met a bartender or barrista, we usually ask them what’s your favorite cocktail or coffee recipe. I never suspect this question will create uncomfortable atmosphere during conversation. But Ms Cho Lee bluntly explain that she gets annoyed with this question. She compares the situation with Picasso asked to choose his favorite color.

Chef Shiqin Chen, La Rei, Il Boscareto, Piedmont, Italy

Ask them what their favorite dish is

Chef Chen shares the same shades of outrage with Ms Cho Lee about favorite things. Maybe he might compare this with parents asked to choose their favorite children, to cut the question later.

Chef Victor Quintillà Imbernón, Lluerna, Barcelona, Spain

That the food was made without love

Hmm, no need to be genius to understand this impolite comments.

Chef Galvin Lim, Les Amis, Singapore

Chefs who are skinny can’t cook well

At first, I find this comment quite funny and unrealistic. But then I remember, in Asian culture like Indonesian, there were shared understanding about the relation of waistline and ability to cook. When I remember the great cook in my family or my husband family, most of them do have fuller figure. With the trend of cooking and eating health  spread around the world, this phenomena begin to dissolve. We, or I personally, prefer leaner figure chefs or any expert. Because that means he or she can take care of them self better and function at best with leaner (with assumption healthier condition) body.

So, next time you meet a chef or cook or anyone in culinary business remember these most annoyed line to prevent awkward moments with them.

Ooops, wrong question! Awkward....

Ooops, wrong question! Awkward….

For the complete article visit cnngo here

Meet Me at Starbucks


If you happens to be in a Starbucks at Jakarta and see me sitting alone focusing on my Mac and my headphone on, don’t hesitate to say hi.

We can share stories about your experience to winged recipes , foolish cooking attempts, kitchen nightmares or local produced groceries and so much more food related subjects. Maybe I can review your food related business, or you can inspire me for my articles or personal projects. Or we can spend giggling time for a moment before heading back to work.

I know, my soft spots for Starbucks may seem less Indonesian. Since most of my articles in this blog is to promote and share Indonesian food experience, you may wonder why.

The shallow explanation because Starbucks is easy. I can access their store easily, even 24 hours if I want to. One more thing is easy access of fast internet connection courtesy from their partner: Biznet in every Starbucks stores at Jakarta. All I need is one user ID and one password, I can access the connection at every Starbucks. No fuss.

If you want a little bit deeper explanation, here they are.

First, as huge and fast growing multi continent company, Starbucks stores always offer anything but generic services. With so many coffee shops or cafes popping around Jakarta, Starbucks still able to maintain a little bit uniqueness or even snobbishness in positive way.

Second, the company concern for the coffee farmer and conserve the origin of the coffee beans quite remarkable. Regardless the dynamic of coffee trading in the world, they have clear policy to do ethical trading and required their partner to grow coffee responsibly.

Third, when they say, ‘premium’ to describe the condiments it does taste damn good. Premium milk, premium freshly whipped cream, premium chocolate, premium syrups, etc.

Fourth, their original blend:  Starbucks® Espresso Roast uses combination of Indonesian and Latin American coffee beans since the 70’s.

They also sell other product from Indonesian coffee beans without diminishing the distinct Indonesian flare from the it:

Komodo Dragon Blend®

Komodo Dragon Blend®

Sumatra Coffee beans

Sumatra Coffee beans

Sulawesi Coffee Beans

Sulawesi Coffee Beans

Fifth, most of their barristas, security officers and other staff at any store in Jakarta are very friendly and helpful. They help me finding cable extension for my lap top, I can ask them to watch over my belongings while I’m away to the bathroom, etc.

Sixth, when they provide in store bath room they take care of it cautiously. Always clean, dry, never runs out tissues and odorless.

Seventh, I can ask for a glass of water as much as I can for free! Sometimes I don’t comfortable with the sticky feeling in my mouth after sipping any cold-creamy beverages. I need water to rinse it out, so I will enjoy the drinks at the next sips. While other cafes charge for a glass of clear water, Starbucks provide them free even with extra ice cubes.

My usual spots are Starbucks at Kelapa Gading or La Piazza or Skyline building at Thamrin. So when you see me, or listen for order: Grande Mocha Frappuccino without whipped cream and extra double shot espresso, don’t forget to say hi!

Knock on my table and say hi!

Knock on my table and say hi!

“Warung Padang” spreading wisdom of spice, one small plate at a time


Warung Padang, is a generic term for Padangnese style restaurant. In my opinion, this is one of Indonesia‘s authentic entrepreneurship in culinary. Traditionally, Warung Padang operates like a well oiled chained or franchise  restaurants. This phenomena exist preceding McDonald, KFC, Pizza Hut or any western brand offering greasy food.

Padangnese community known for their business appetite and genetically inherit tradesman attitude. While Islam influenced heavily to the West Sumatran culture, their philosophy transform into more down to earth principles and fairness. Although we called it Padang restaurant after Padang city the capitol of West Sumatra province, but most of the cooking style and classic meal available at these restaurant were native to Bukit tinggi, Solok, Payakumbuh and Padang pariaman. Those are the adjacent cities to Padang and rich in culinary culture. But the community seem didn’t mind with generic labeling, hence increase their popularity by sharing similar identity as Warung Padang.

Pointy architectural feature is classic sign for Padang restaurant, mimic their ethnic house “Rumah Gadang”

Rumah Gadang, the inspiration

When we come to any restaurant that has the title “….. Padang” (the dots can be replaced with WarungRestoranRumah Makan or just RM.  They all means the same: a place to eat) or with significant display of stacked plates of food on the window, you will get similar experience.

After you get a sit, no body will give you the menu card or even ask what do you want to eat. A man or two suddenly approaching your table with small plates of food arranged attractively on top of their upper and lower arm. Fast and almost acrobatically, he will transfer all the plates to your table. All of sudden your dining table will get crowded with mini plates consist of colorful dishes. No fancy dining etiquette here, just the basic rule: no double dipping, don’t touch the food with your finger if you don’t going to eat them, pick only the food you want to eat and pay the same way. Using both hands are recomended, than spoon and fork. If you think you want more than one small plates, you can ask the staff member. Those experience can be expected from all Warung Padang at all over the world. In the most expensive ones at five star hotel or high end malls; and at the wet traditional market in the middle of no where, they have the same structure.


Spicy aromatic dishes on mini plates (high end restaurant with air conditioned room)


Similar dishes, equally delicious on more humble table setting (nearby traditional market)

Structure in managing business, which emphasized in sense of ownership between the member of staff. Without mambo jambo management terms or economy fancy words, all of the staff share ownership of the restaurant. The capital owner is the one or several people who use their money to start the business. He is the first liner of ownership. The second one are the cook and cook assistant. These men (yes, Warung Padang almost always consist of men very seldom women), are acting the operational manager who direct and guide their business in daily basis. The cook decides how many produce and raw ingredients should be bought for a day, in the sense they also predict how much they’ll earn money for that day.

The third liner are the shopper or Toke, they responsible for buying all of the groceries needed by the cook and document the cash flow. Next are the Tukang Sanduak or the spoon man. Sanduak means spoon, so his job is about plating and portion. He runs the front part of the restaurant where all the food are neatly stacked and displayed for the customer. The spoon man must follow the direction from the cook about portion, in plating rice or other dish, or else they won’t get the income predicted. After plating in mini plates tapas style, the middle man or Bahagian Tengah will organize them on his hand in acrobatic manner. The goal was to be efficient and deliver all the food needed by customer. So minimizing the walking distance, walking frequency and chaotic people crossing between the tables. Cleaning the table also part for middle man’s job, since he is in charge of the middle part of the restaurant. The washer or tukang cuci are the starting rank and he have to deal with dirty dishes for a certain period of time. The cashier usually share the front part of restaurant with the spoon guy, but not all people can be selected as cashier. He must be proven honest and meticulous in counting money and charging people.

Just like any other high reputable company, Warung Padang management also got their audit regularly. Daily audit always held to calculate their gross income and compose menu (the quantity and quality) for the next day. The cashier can’t corrupt the money, because then the cook will know if his prediction on income are missed. So there are check and re check mechanism, mimic self audit activity in corporate live. Every three months or after 100 workdays, they held a big meeting. On this forum all staff member can share and discus about everything, mainly related to the business. People got promotions, sanction even fired during this event. Since there are no real employer and employee line, the staff will give their best effort and thinking to make sure their restaurant will make profit. Because, when the restaurant got profit everybody will taste the money according to their shares proportion. That means, the staff experiencing their own performa first hand through the amount of money they received. When they all as a team doing good job, the customer are satisfied and coming back for second transaction or more, they will get more money, and vice versa. In the end, Warung Padang also create a working environment with sustainable correcting system. If one staff member being lazy or making the customer angry, he must face not only the owner but the rest of the crew too.

make the phrase ‘an arms length’ felt crowded with plates

stacked of plates of food for window display, very typical for Warung Padang

See the display, find what you like and hear your stomach growling seeing delicious food

When the Starbucks highly praised about making partner relationship rather than traditional employer-employee with their barristers, Warung Padang already doing it decades ago. So, next time you go to eat Beef Rendang or Chicken Curry or Prawn Crackers at Padang restaurant, appreciate the people who serve you. They aren’t just your waiter, they all are business owner.