In Alvin Saputra and Akbar Thais’s hometown of Surakarta (also referred to as Solo), the sort of cooking you discover of their Newtown restaurant can be extremely unconventional. The brothers’ rendang comes combined with cheese in a quesadilla, native mussels are stewed in beer and, maybe most controversially of all, the charcoal-grilled hen is “burnt”.
“My mum said to me, ‘How come your meat is so black?’ I tell her, ‘It’s nice, don’t worry it’s just the charcoal. We like it like that here in Australia’,” says Saputra.
What’s typical right here in Oz or in Indonesia doesn’t matter to the pair, or to their chef Olly Lucas (Excelsior Jones, Reuben Hills). Their purpose is to take what they like from Australian tradition and from their reminiscences of residence, and merge them to make one thing new and, definitely within the case of the hen, higher. “I want to do something different. I want to create something unique,” says Saputra.
Hearing that, you might simply assume this can be a fusion restaurant – the type the place each dish is created by combining two-or-more cuisines. Solo isn’t like that, actually, many dinner choices, such because the soto ayam (hen and turmeric noodle soup), the satay skewers or nasi liwet (shredded hen, coconut rice and coconut cream), are conventional.
“I’ve been calling my mum and saying, ‘What’s the recipe, what are your nice dishes?’. I want to let her in the kitchen here,” says Saputra. “The reason we did this restaurant is mum always wanted to open a restaurant in Australia but couldn’t.”
While the dinner choices lean in the direction of Indonesian traditions, the brunch menu feels extra inner-city cafe. There are pandan pancakes, Indonesian-Dutch hash-brown stacks, Brickfields bread and Welcome Dose roasted coffee. With toasties (together with the house particular: a rendang and cheese choice), fried noodles, sambos and gado gado, lunch is someplace in between.
Luckily for Saputra and Thais, they’ve discovered a uncommon area that simply straddles each morning and night moods. The key’s a merely adorned courtyard area and upstairs balcony space, which within the day is flooded with daylight and at night time lets diners eat beneath the celebs.
“Opening in Newtown is a risk [because people aren’t familiar with Indonesian food], but I wanted to give it a go. There are so many Thai restaurants here, I want Indonesian to be the same,” says Saputra.
415 King Street, Newtown
(02) 9550 5684
Thu to Sun 10am–10pm