Talking about food in Kuningan, South Jakarta won’t be complete without mentioning Warung MJS. Years have gone by and the neighborhood has seen numerous more fashionable F&B establishments, but MJS remains strong. It seems that MJS’ roots have made its way deep into the local community, creating an inseparable connection between this restaurant and the people. You can see a lot of customers coming for lunch, dinner, or events on a daily basis.
What makes Warung MJS attractive to its patrons, you’re asking?
If you’re thinking of the current café standards of the word “comfortable”, you won’t find them here. Most of Warung MJS is a semi open space; there is only one small air-conditioned room that can fit around 15 people. People who usually spend their time at a minimalist coffee shop with plenty of negative space will be shocked for sure.
Warung MJS feels like a never-ending art project with a mishmash of ornaments here and there. The space is adorned with knick-knacks brought by the owner from his travels. See a kimono collection hanging on one wall, a collection of traditional cigarette boxes on the other. Do check out the Dagadu Djokdja-style jokes plastered on every corner, or the male toilet if you can. Hint: The latter involves hotel key cards—lots of them. Perhaps everything is a way for the quirky owner to show his personality.
Nevertheless, people seem to be having a great time and take the situation as a part of the experience. The disarray is the charm, if you will. My visits to Warung MJS are proof to this strange but welcome phenomenon. The first time I went there, it was packed with local Bataknese church goers, while a high school reunion was taking place during my second visit.
But is the food as fun to explore as the eccentric physicality?
I believe so, especially if classic Central Java and Semarang-influenced flavors are your kind of food. Here, you dine warteg or Padang style, which means everything is already laid out in front of you. All you have to do is point the ones that pique your interest. At the same time, it’s going to be a tricky situation if a lot of dishes look good. I always end up with a lot of food on my plate. But worry not, the price is reasonable and more pocket-friendly than eating at the mall.
Warung MJS offers more than 70 dishes. There must be something for everyone. As if that’s not enough, every a couple of months, MJS revamps their menu and adds a new dish. Some of my favorites are the savory Cumi Hitam and the extra spicy Ayam Setan. With a challenging heat that lingers on your tummy for a day, Ayam Setan is a must-try for chilli experts.
Besides those two, Asem-Asem Daging (the late Pak Bondan’s favorite), Oseng Kikil, and Kue Cubit are also worth trying. I enjoy the balanced flavor of sweetness and tangy asam jawa in Asem-Asem Daging, the perfect texture of Oseng Kikil, and the bang-for-your-buck Kue Cubit. With IDR 10,000, you get a Kue Cubit cooked to your liking in a clean kitchen, but with the same taste that you get at a street food stall. Last but not least, I have a special spot for Sambal Demit, which for me tastes like the perfect fusion between chilli and my favorite tempe bacem.
Besides unique ambience and great Indonesian food, Warung MJS helms a new sub-brand called Kopi Susu Bu Lurah. But first, disclaimer: This might sound biased because I have a personal attachment to this product. I think the branding is brilliant, from the naming to the tagline, “Kopi susu ter-enak se-Indonesia, kata Pak Lurah.” It’s very clever and easy to capture. The way they place themselves in Go-Food is also smart. While others start the name of their brand with “kopi”, Kopi Susu Bu Lurah uses the term “kopi susu”. This is a small but significant differentiation.
Disclaimer aside, I will try to explain the taste of the coffee objectively. I usually take my coffee black, and milk for me is an addition that I don’t always enjoy. But for me, Kopi Susu Bu Lurah with its IDR 22,000 price tag is quite a fascinating cup of coffee. It’s not the cheapest version of kopi susu available, but understandable since most kopi susu brands use robusta beans, while Bu Lurah exclusively uses arabica beans that are more friendly to your stomach. The flavor also reminds me of those black coffees I usually enjoy at specialty coffee shops. I often find kopi susu with an overpowering milk and coconut sugar taste, but not this one. I can still taste the coffee and enjoy the whole thing. And the fact that they make their espresso with a manual machine pulled by hand? Interesting.
If you need more reasons to come to Warung MJS, listen to this. Freebies. They have lots of freebies. Free jamu welcome drink, free crackers, free bananas, and free valet. So if you’re like me and you think parking fees suck, this might just be the place for you. So, see you at Warung MJS? I, for one, will be back for that kopi susu and Cumi Hitam soon.
Talking about food in Kuningan, South Jakarta won’t be complete without mentioning Warung MJS. Years have gone by and the neighborhood has seen numerous more fashionable F&B establishments, but MJS remains strong.
Warung MJS offers more than 70 dishes. There must be something for everyone. As if that’s not enough, every a couple of months, MJS revamps their menu and adds a new dish. One of my favorites are the savory Cumi Hitam.
Here, you dine warteg or Padang style, which means everything is already laid out in front of you. All you have to do is point the ones that pique your interest.
This Oseng Kikil has the perfect bite to it. Not too soft, not too chewy.
It’s a tricky situation if a lot of dishes look good. I always end up with a lot of food on my plate.
But worry not, the price is reasonable and more pocket-friendly than eating at the mall.
If classic Central Java and Semarang-influenced flavors are your kind of food, you’re going to like Warung MJS.
Besides unique ambience and great Indonesian food, Warung MJS helms a new sub-brand called Kopi Susu Bu Lurah.
What it’s like to try the new and revamped OKU Bento, you’re asking?
Imagine having your belly stuffed to its maximum capacity. Sleepiness starts to creep in, and there’s this tightness around your hips. A sliver of thought about that juice detox you had just two days ago tries to break free, but quickly squashed by a compulsion to lift your chopsticks for another piece of sushi. Do you really need to eat more food? Your head says no, but your heart says yes.
That’s when the thought kicks in: OKU might just ruin you for other bento.
Forget sloppy cooking and questionable fish cut, you will only witness Chef Kaz’ expertise and the freshest of ingredients. First step: Pick your protein. OKU spoils you rotten with numerous options, including Tasmanian salmon sashimi, unagi, and chicken teriyaki.
For the carnivores, the star has got to be Truffle Gyu Don, which dishes up the finest piece of US Beef with generous black truffle sauce and a glistening onsen tamago on top. The beef is prepared with finesse, resulting in a perfect medium cook and unparalleled juiciness. However, if you prefer delicate flavors, go for Chirashi. The array of sashimi gives an almost sweet aftertaste that can only come from freshness. It is complemented with one of the best sushi rice we’ve tasted in a while—just the right amount of vinegar and stickiness.
OKU Bento is a rare case in which the B-side is just as impressive as the A-side, thus don’t shy away from finishing what’s surrounding the main protein in your bento. Expect the tastiest servings of tsukune (teriyaki chicken patty), tomorokoshi (sweet corn croquette), chawan mushi, yasai tempura, spicy salmon roll, and some more fresh sashimi. For the finale, round up your meal with a choice of OKU’s signature desserts, Mizu or Green Sundae.
Yes, OKU Bento will make you want to run an extra mile during your next gym session. Food comma is inevitable. Your pocket will have more than IDR 300K dent. But this bento is definitely worth every penny. OKU first-timers will be charmed for more, while regulars will find some of their favorites in one box. Give it a go yourself and let us know whether you feel as fulfilled as we did.
OKU Japanese Restaurant is located in Hotel Indonesia Kempinski, Central Jakarta.
More than one year after its opening, OKU remains as one of the premium destination for Japanese cuisine in Jakarta.
The restaurant has launched a revamped version of the signature OKU Bento.
With this new bento, OKU spoils you rotten with numerous options, including Tasmanian salmon sashimi, unagi, and chicken teriyaki.
For the carnivores, the star has got to be Truffle Gyu Don, which dishes up the finest piece of US Beef with generous black truffle sauce and a glistening onsen tamago on top.
Sake Don OKU Bento variety
If you prefer delicate flavors, go for Chirashi.
OKU Bento is a rare case in which the B-side is just as impressive as the A-side.
Don’t shy away from finishing what’s surrounding the main protein in your bento.
The bento is going to make you feel full. You might even need to walk around the restaurant before being able to finish everything inside the box.
At Fresh Market PIK, one spot is unlike the other. On the second story, nestled among clothes shop and counterfeit DVD seller is Rumahan Coffee & Kitchen. While certainly not the first modern-ish establishment in this particular market, Rumahan deftly catches one’s attention with its intimate yellow glow and tiny size.
When we say tiny, we mean it. The space is more or less equally divided only into two; half for the duo behind Rumahan, half for the customers. Three customers at a time is ideal, four is stretching it, and more than that is pushing it. Funnily enough, a quick view at Rumahan’s social media can show that “pushing it” happens quite frequently—a testament of how bigger does not always mean better.
Size is just one part of the chain of charms. It naturally pushes an interaction between the two parties involved. Conversations take place, a bit of laughter ensues. Rumahan’s signature Es Kopi Susu is pleasantly creamy and Mocca Nougat Donut is sweet, nutty, plus perfectly crunchy as it is, but the good mood you are in certainly amplifies everything.
Besides other sweet treats such as Lemon Cake and Banana Bread, Rumahan Coffee & Kitchen also serves homemade daily-changing healthy menus like Basil Pesto Pasta and Veggie Rice Bowl with Marinated Tempeh. The latter, for example, uses non-GMO local organic soy, cooked with coconut oil. Be sure to send Rumahan a text beforehand to secure your meal, preferably a day before, as the dishes can sold out pretty quickly. We came at 11 AM on a Wednesday only to find baked goods remaining.
With only a limited space to sit down and relax, yes, it makes more sense to simply hop on Go-Food and have a taste of Rumahan’s tasty goods from the comfort of your own home. But do come whenever you find yourself around the area. Where else you are going to find homemade healthy food, in a space that looks like it belongs to an IKEA catalogue for space maximization, at a traditional market? Rumahan Coffee & Kitchen is, indeed, an experience.
At Fresh Market PIK, one spot is unlike the other.
On the second story, nestled among clothes shop and counterfeit DVD seller is Rumahan Coffee & Kitchen.
While certainly not the first modern-ish establishment in this particular market, Rumahan deftly catches one’s attention with its intimate yellow glow and tiny size.
When we say tiny, we mean it. The space is more or less equally divided only into two; half for the duo behind Rumahan, half for the customers.
Size is just one part of the chain of charms. It naturally pushes an interaction between the two parties involved. Conversations take place, a bit of laughter ensues.
Es Kopi Susu and Mocca Nougat Donut
Mocca Nougat Donut is sweet, nutty, plus perfectly crunchy.
With only a limited space to sit down and relax, yes, it makes more sense to simply hop on Go-Food and have a taste of Rumahan’s tasty goods from the comfort of your own home. But do come whenever you find yourself around the area.
It’s time for another edition of Fresh Bites, a list of new restaurant & cafe in Jakarta that opened last month. Hope you’ll think of this list when finding yourself in need of a place to eat next week during the holidays!
1. déj cafe déj cafe is Chef Taliya Setyadi’s second brand after BEAU. Serving primarily plant-based dishes alongside less-guilty cakes and sweet treats, déj further underlines the rise of health-conscious eateries in Jakarta.
Address: Jl. Bumi No. 20, South Jakarta
2. Tua Baru From the people who brought you Kedai Tua Baru and Tanggal Tua restaurant in Surabaya comes Tua Baru in Mega Kuningan area. Tua Baru offers Indonesian Peranakan cuisine with “kenikmatan tiada tara”. We have to check the place out ourselves to see whether the words are true, but the place looks promising.
Address: Jl. Mega Kuningan Barat 3 Blok E3.7, Kav. No. 18
3. Hario Cafe Previously known in Indonesia for equipments of everything coffee, tea, and glassware, Hario from Japan now dip their feet into the cafe business. In contrast to its first establishment in Tangerang that only serves drinks, this Pluit outlet also offers a fusion of Japanese and Western cuisine.
Address: Pluit Permai Raya No. 29, North Jakarta
4. Lucky Number Wan On the road that also houses Calibrate Coffee is Lucky Number Wan, a cheekily-named Chinese brasserie and tea house. With East meets West as the main concept, expect dishes like Dry Pork Mee Sua and Truffle Cream Dumpling.
Address: Jl. Puri Kembangan No. 10F, West Jakarta
5. Blue Zone Center Indonesia Blue Zone is technically more like a one stop shop for a healthier lifestyle instead of a cafe. But there are seats, fresh salad bowls, vegan croissant, and kombucha bar. Considering what we’ve seen on social media, it’s too intriguing not to be mentioned in this Fresh Bites list.
Address: Jl. Gunawarman No. 51, South Jakarta
6. Goobne In its birthplace in Korea, Goobne has received awards from the Ministry of Health for offering tasty crispy-skinned oven roasted chicken that is moderately low in fat, carbs, sodium, and calories. Goobne is now open in PIK.
Address: Ruko Crown Golf Blok B No. 15-16, PIK, North Jakarta
7. Yu Cha Another boba place should be boring instead of exciting, but when it serves flavors like Mango Pomelo Sago, Kacang Ijo, and Ketan Hitam, well, we’ll order one as soon as possible!
Address: Jl. Pluit Selatan Raya No. 24-30 (Nano Reflexology)
8. Ottoman’s Coffee Mega Kuningan After two years of caffeinating Pluit area, Ottoman’s Coffee branches out to Mega Kuningan. Situated in a new office building called Sopo Del Tower, this brand new Ottoman’s has quickly become a social media phenomenon with its pink amphitheatre and “I Woke Up Like This” neon sign.
Address: Sopo Del Tower, Jl. Mega Kuningan Barat III No. 58, South Jakarta
Despite the coffee shop fatigue, particularly in neighborhoods such as Pluit and Muara Karang that have seen dozens of new coffee places in the last two or three years, one can’t help but applaud Delapan Gram for coming up with another distinctive spot. While the words “exposed bricks” and “unfinished walls” have become the norm rather than the exception, Delapan Gram Pluit pushes both concepts to the limit with its eye-pleasing outdoor space.
Under the unforgiving Jakarta sun, Delapan Gram’s smoker-friendly open air area provides a much-needed break to the eyes. Green potted plants and faux grass contrast nicely with the otherwise red-and-grey hues. Nomad workers are also pampered with electrical sockets and a nice speaker, which plays the same audio indoor. It might be too hot to sit outside for long hours in the afternoon, but it’s easy imagine a breezier and somewhat more romantic experience beneath the hanging lights in the evening.
Meanwhile, the indoor space stays cohesive to the exposed bricks and unfinished theme, just without the greens. The narrow width and dark atmosphere gives a hole-in-the-wall vibes unlike anything else around Pluit right now.
This does not mean that Delapan Gram is not trying to fit with its surroundings. On the contrary, a quick peek at the menu tells you that it knows exactly how to blend in. Alongside menus like Truffled Mac n Cheese and Scotch Egg are Nasi Goreng and Crispy Fried Pork Belly, complete with Hainanese rice. We’re really happy with the taste of our Scotch Egg. Served alongside punchy tomato sambal, it’s a flavorful dish suitable for Indonesian palate. A little more meaty goodness would have been better, but for the price, this is more than decent.
As for drinks, expect the usual suspects of coffee—both espresso-based and rotating beans for filter—alongside chocolate beverages, tea, and local refreshments. Think Badak float, markisa, and sonkit. It is as if Delapan Gram Pluit is trying to combine the best of both worlds. A modern-looking place where people would want to take photos and stay a while, paired with tried-and-tested comfort food. Has Delapan Gram succeeded? You’ll be the judge of that.
While the words “exposed bricks” and “unfinished walls” have become the norm rather than the exception, Delapan Gram Pluit pushes both concepts to the limit with its eye-pleasing outdoor space.
The indoor space stays cohesive to the exposed bricks and unfinished theme, just with less greens.
Home-made bolu cakes
The narrow width and dark atmosphere gives a hole-in-the-wall vibes unlike anything else around Pluit right now.
As for drinks, expect the usual suspects of coffee—both espresso-based and rotating beans for filter—alongside chocolate beverages, tea, and local refreshments.
Shakerato (IDR 33K)
Scotch Egg with Tomato Sambal (IDR 48K)
From a random conversation during hours and hours of traffic jam, HOURS: Coffee & More was born. HOURS in Kelapa Gading was created out of an idea to create a space for spending time and creating memorable moments with loved ones. Inadvertently, it has also managed to be come a place for people from various backgrounds to set aside their differences and connect.
There are a couple of prominent figures behind HOURS, including Jeffrey Budiman — distinguished architect from Grain & Green design studio, vintage car enthusiast, and dog-lover. We visited HOURS to meet him, talk over fried banana fritters plus coffee, and learn more about the café’s design and what makes food so special.
HOURS is one of the most well-designed cafés in Kelapa Gading. What’s the concept? When it comes to design, we just let things flow. People who travel abroad have said that HOURS has elements of French modern design. To be honest, we don’t have any specific theme in mind. It’s all about giving twists to common practices in design and architecture. How to make an inexpensive material more than what it is. To recycle, upcycle, or repurpose discarded materials into something unique.
What are the examples of those? Look at the ceiling. It’s covered in egg trays. Egg trays are really cheap, IDR 500 a piece, and it gets thrown away just like that. So we paint it white, give it a new life, and put it on the ceiling. It’s great for acoustics as well—not bad at all. And see three bell-shaped lamps over there above the coffee bar? Those are wastafel (washbasin) turned upside down.
Anything else at HOURS that is not what it seems? These tables. Sturdy tables usually require expensive materials, so we searched for an alternative in the market and found this besi siku (stainless steel L-profile). We bent it and used it to support the tables. It’s cheap and readily available, but we twisted it into something different.
HOURS has managed to become a place for people from various backgrounds to set aside their differences and connect.
An opened box is the inspiration behind HOURS’ exterior.
HOURS gives twists to common practices in design and architecture. How to make an inexpensive material more than what it is.
Rotating artwork is one of HOURS’ signature.
Flexible table setting, easily adjustable for events.
HOURS has a distinctive exterior look. Tell us a bit about it. One of our founders is the distributor of Makita tool kits. These tool kits are shipped inside a box. That’s the inspiration behind our exterior structure, an opened box. Besides that, my partners and I love greeneries, so what greets you in front is a lohansung tree imported from Taiwan. Japanese people like to place this tree front of their house, as it gives a welcoming feel. It’s actually the most extravagant feature in HOURS. A row of orange trees line the side windows to add a comfortable touch. Something natural, but uncomplicated.
When it comes to the interior, we notice that there are higher and lower tables. What’s the reason for that? Well, in my home, the tables are quite high. I find it more relaxing to work on high tables with my feet perched on a stool instead of the ground. Perhaps there are others who feel the same. With high tables, you can also switch position—standing instead of sitting. These tables, like everything at HOURS, have no sharp edges. God’s creations are all rounded, and we want to follow that.
Are you satisfied with HOURS’ current design? Or is there something that you want to fix? With HOURS, it’s about creating a continually-evolving space. We alter our space every a couple of months based on what’s going on. The coffee machine? This year is the Chinese year of the dog, thus we cover our La Marzocco with dog figures. Change is necessary to keep people interested. Our table setting is flexible as well, it can be easily adjusted for events.
Spot the Jo Malone-inspired custom La Marzocco. It was the coffee machine’s first look.
How HOURS’ La Marzocco looks now.
These bell-shaped lamps are wastafel (washbasin) turned upside down.
When Shirokuma first opened its door in PIK in 2014, the cafe quickly triggered a city-wide infatuation for matcha, soft serve ice cream, and dessert. While the trend eventually cools down, Shirokuma remains a prominent figure in the F&B business for everything sweet with six outlets all across Jabodetabek. The secret: Michelle Widjaja, sharp-witted lady boss extraordinaire with fondness for creating colorful yet scrumptious dishes and keen business instincts. We recently sat down with Michelle to talk more about Shirokuma and the current food industry.
The company’s name is PT Beruang Laris Manis. Shirokuma’s logo is a white bear, and laris manis means success. But is there any other story behind the name? I really like puns! Beruang in Bahasa Indonesia does not only mean bear, but also ber-uang (have money). And yes true, laris manis equals to success, but manis also means sweet—and we’re selling something sweet.
But did the logo come out before or after the company name was chosen? Before. Well, actually, when I was growing up people used to call me polar bear because I’m really pale. When I was younger, I used to be a bit chubbier as well, thus the nick name.
Besides graduating from Le Cordon Bleu in pastry, you have a degree in finance. What have you learned from it? Yes, my bachelor was in marketing and finance. I did not really enjoy the finance part, to be honest with you, but it has helped in how to handle money in the company. The marketing part was really what contributed a lot. For Shirokuma, marketing is the game changer. At the end of the day, ice cream is ice cream. It’s how you package yourself that’s different.
You also have a degree in fashion. Is there anything in fashion that also work in F&B? I feel like food and fashion are very interlinked, right? Because with fashion, what you wear portrays who you are as a person. With food, it’s also similar. Some people buy the product because it looks nice, especially in Indonesia. We try to make our food esthetically appealing, but we also need to make sure that the brand is something people would want to associate with, because it’s somehow linked to their identity.
How about your dad? He’s a successful entrepreneur in garments. Any lesson or guidance from him when Shirokuma first started? A lot! My dad started his own thing too, so I learned a lot from him in the way how to make deals. One of the most valuable things that he taught me is… He always advises us to make win-win deals. A deal has to benefit both parties, otherwise don’t do the deal. Say, when we buy ingredients from suppliers, we have to find a price that enables them to make profit. Focusing on long-term partnership is important.
Do you still seek advice from him? Yes, I live at home with my family. Sometimes there is a blurred line between what’s work and not. For example, when we’re at home having breakfast, he’ll start talking about work *laughs* He’s a shareholder too, so it’s like shareholder meeting meets family time. But it’s better that way than not having a mentor at all.
When Shirokuma first opened in June 2014, have you always had the vision that it would be this big? Not at all. Honestly, I was working with my dad at that time. I was handling the marketing for Poshboy. Then I felt like, “Oh, maybe I should do something on my own.” When the first Shirokuma opened, I only had that one outlet in my head. If you saw my forecast in the beginning, I didn’t dream it to be this big. It was just something to do as a hobby, a passion project. But it turns out that a lot of people like Shirokuma.
Why did you choose PIK to be the location of Shirokuma’s first outlet? Well, I live around the area. It was my first proper business, so vicinity-wise it had to be close. Apart from that, PIK was up and coming. There were a lot of people living here who have had the exposure to international markets. Either they go to school overseas or travel a lot. So I thought it would be the perfect place to introduce matcha soft-serve ice cream. Perhaps those people had one when they were abroad and missed it. Then they would know what matcha soft serve is without me having to educate too much. Matcha was also something new-ish in Jakarta’s market.
And why is there no Shirokuma outlet at PIK at the moment? Because… This is actually a sad story. PIK was Shirokuma’s first location and I’m obviously emotionally attached to it. It seemed that the landlord did not want us to continue and we were offered a deal that wasn’t fair. Like I said before, any deal has to be fair. I want an equal partnership—it’s not just a business exchange.
Do you think things would have turned out differently if Shirokuma had opened at another location at first? Yes. Because, first of all, I wouldn’t be able to control it as much. In the beginning of the business, I was very, very hands-on, sometimes to the point where I didn’t go home until 3 AM. If I hadn’t done so, perhaps Shirokuma wouldn’t have been as successful. Plus, the fact that a lot of people in PIK were already exposed to matcha soft serve played a part as well.
Shirokuma started the matcha and soft-serve trend in Jakarta. Then a lot of people copied the idea. How was it like? Yes, there were a lot. It was really stressful in the beginning. Why are they copying our idea? But at the same time, you can’t stop people from doing it. If anything, this amplified the trend, causing people from all over Jakarta to be aware of matcha soft-serve. In the end, it opened the doors for us too.
Back then, what made you decide that it was time to branch out of PIK? We were getting a lot of requests from customers. People were commenting on our Instagram, “Please open in the South!” and such. Usually they even mentioned the mall where they wanted us to open. When that happened—and the mall was already offering us a place anyway—we did our visibility study. If everything made sense, then we proceeded.
Is there any difference between the market in North Jakarta & the rest of the city? Yes, it’s different. Even the favorites are different. And sometimes what incentivize them to purchase is different. I think in places like PIK, GI, and AEON, people are a little bit more price-sensitive. The way you market to them has to be different. Not necessarily cheaper is better, but they need to know that they’re getting a good value for money. People in the South, for example, don’t really mind. As long as it looks nice, it’s good, then they’ll buy it. The average bill size is different too.
In your opinion, how is the current state of F&B business in Jakarta? Are there too many cafes already? No, I wouldn’t say so. I think it’s good that people are trying. There’s nothing wrong with that. I used to live in Sydney, and cafes were lining up in every street. But they all survive. Why? Because they have a relationship with their customers. That can’t be replicated. Customers have different preferences as well. At the end of the day, everybody has their own market. It’s good, actually. Customers have more variety, more things to try.
Tell us a bit about Shirokuma’s pop up store with Cosmonaut. What’s the idea behind that? The pop up is funky and cool, not as cutesy as Shirokuma. Hopefully there will be a new market that comes in, because our customers are predominantly female. Through this collaboration with Cosmonaut, which mostly offers men’s wear, we’re tapping into their market. We’re also talking to Sanrio for a collaboration with them in all of our stores. Shirokuma has done one before in December 2017, but only in AEON.
It has been almost 4 years after Shirokuma first opened. What are your strategies to stay relevant? A lot of innovation, a lot of collaboration. That pop up with Cosmonaut is a good example. So we try to make things that people will talk about. It’s about reaching out to another market that previously was not into us. Apart from that, we work with malls sometimes. Malls have things they need from their tenants, especially during events. But yes, you need to have a good relationship with them, in a sense that both parties need to communicate, “Hey, we need this!” or asking “Is there anything we can collaborate in?” We’re going to work with Gandaria City in running the Barbie cafe in their month-long Barbie event starting this month. To sum it up, taking different projects on top of innovating the menu is crucial.
We see that Shirokuma still occasionally joins bazaars and pop-up markets. Is that part of the strategy? Yes, particularly for things that we experiment on. Because it’s a bit costly to experiment in our stores. So when we join a bazaar, either we’re not in that mall, or we’re trying a new menu not yet available in stores. If it’s good, then we can put it on the menu.
Back then inviting bloggers is a very effective method of F&B marketing. What about now? I think bloggers are still very relevant. What changes is Instagram’s tactics. As you know, the algorithm has changed, and the way people consume it is different as well. Instead of focusing too much on our feed, we have to pay attention to our stories. They way that we use Instagram has to adapt, that’s all. In terms of bloggers, the same applies to them.
We’ve heard that expansion to other cities has been under Shirokuma’s radar for a while. What are the challenges to reach that point? A lot of Shirokuma’s stuffs are home made. Because our desserts are very cute, it requires a lot of training and supervision. It’s not impossible, but I need to make sure that our team is ready. Last August ’til this April I was in a mentorship program through an organization called Endeavor. Endeavor and Idea Fest collaborated to make an event called Scale Up, and in there a program for F&B entrepreneurs called Spice Up. My mentors were Steven from Boga Group and Anthony, the COO of MAP. He was handling brands like Starbucks and Coldstone. I learned a lot from them, because they mostly take care of franchises. They were telling me, “Why don’t you focus on Jakarta first? Do you know that expanding to another city is a bigger task that you think?” And it’s shown that a lot of people who are too aggressive in expansion end up closing. It’s quite risky because you don’t have too much control, and if your franchise holder don’t really take care of it, the whole brand suffers. So it’s not that I don’t want to, I think it’s a matter of the right timing. Look at your backbone first. When it’s strong enough, you can start expanding.
What is the most important thing that you’ve learned from running Shirokuma? Mostly how to handle stress and how to manage people. I think F&B is a very high-stress environment. People from the outside maybe only sees the fun, that the work is not from 9-5. Yes, it’s true, but it also means that when you’re off, you’re also thinking about it. One of F&B’s peak moments is during the holiday, which means you can’t have holiday during the holiday. Meanwhile, managing people is a huge task. Putting the right people in the right place is very important. Everybody has their own talent and strength. If you put them in the wrong place, they become frustrated because they can’t perform. So, it’s a lot of doing 1 on 1 meeting, being transparent of what we’re doing. Honesty on both sides.
Let’s talk a little bit about Milkbar, your other establishment. What’s the inspiration behind this one and how is it going compared to Shirokuma? Milkbar is a little bit different because unlike Shirokuma, I didn’t branch out. What we’re focusing on mostly is wholesale customers. As for the name, yes, I do really like Christina Tosi (founder of Milk Bar in NYC), but the term milk bar itself actually has a more universal meaning, kinda like a burger joint or diner? But I choose the name Milkbar because the product is mostly milk-based.
Any advice for anyone who wants to open his or her own F&B place? As long as you have the passion and have a unique angle on whatever concept you’re opening, go for it.
What a busy April it was! Last month saw the opening of at least ten new restaurant & cafe in Jakarta. The profiles are pretty diverse, with Indonesian, Japanese, Hawaiian, and French-American cuisines in the mix; plus the option of healthy and non-healthy options. There’s truly something for everyone in this capital.
1. Monogram Bistro Offering everything from brunch to booze, coffee to desserts, Monogram Bistro hopes to be a one-stop destination for all of your F&B needs. Read more about Monogram here.
2. Devon Cafe Jakarta After months of teasing through social media, the Down Under’s Devon Cafe opened its door in Senayan City, early April 2018. Expect a variety of Australia-style brunch and coffee alongside special menus with Indonesian touch, such as Bakmi Truffle.
Address: Senayan City, Crystal Lagoon Area, LG Floor
3. Feast by Kokiku Brought to you by the nation’s leading online culinary portal Kokiku, Feast promises to provide you with Indonesian comfort food alongside spirits and the occasional live music.
4. Vong Kitchen Vong Kitchen comes by its name from the father-and-son chef duo behind the French-American menus, Jean-Georges and Cédric Vongerichten. The modern atmosphere seems to be just right for you to splurge on special occasions.
5. Greenery While Jakarta has not seen any prominent new salad bar after the arrival of Singapore’s Saladstop!, Greenery is here to change that. One of the salads that we’ve tried is just jam-packed with flavors! Watch out for the comprehensive review on this website soon.
6. Fedwell After a successful run with Berrywell, the people behind this smoothie bowl joint explores healthy food further with Fedwell. Fedwell offers a selection of well-balanced dishes that fulfill your nutritional needs.