The latest chefs’ collaboration at the Jakarta restaurant features recipes from a little-visited part of Sulawesi.
While Indonesia’s Independence Day may have passed on August 17, the celebrations at Sudestada—an Argentinian steakhouse in the heart of Jakarta—are continuing until the end of the month. The “It Takes Two to Tango” menu is a tie-up between Sudestada’s executive chef Victor Taborda and Fernando Sindu from Cork & Screw, bringing together Argentinian asado cooking techniques and the richness of Indonesian flavors. Chef Fernando was deeply inspired by a recent weeklong trip with NGOs to Central Sulawesi, a province that briefly made global headlines in 2018 when it was struck by a powerful earthquake and tsunami. There, he learned a number of local recipes and sought to bring them to the attention of diners back home.
Hence the spice-rubbed biromaru chicken cooked on a flat-top grill. This star of the show is a specialty of Sigi, a mostly rural region outside the provincial capital of Palu. Its satisfyingly complex, peri-peri adjacent flavor contains a slow-building heat that is undeniably punchy but never overwhelms. The addictive rust-red sauce used to baste the poultry was flown in straight from Sulawesi: a conscious decision on Chef Fernando’s part to support local small and medium-sized enterprises in the disaster recovery zone. Served alongside the chicken, the creamy moringa soup is based on an everyday dish specific to Central Sulawesi, and has a coconut milk base with an aromatic hit of galangal and lemongrass.
The two head chefs have also looked to other islands to develop their collaborative menu. Indonesia’s ever-popular Padang cuisine gets a nod in the grilled striploin beef and toothsome rendang mushrooms. Topped with crispy fritters of morning glory leaf coated in tempura batter, the meat rests on a trio of sauces: mild white opor paste featuring pureed candlenut, a sambal ijo chimichurri, and a red sambal more commonly used for skinless fried chicken known as ayam pop.
Of course, no Indonesian meal is complete without fluffy rice, and the garlicky nasi minyak is so delicious you’re bound to order seconds. A testament to the Arab-Indian influence in the Malay cuisine of Jambi and South Sumatra, the well-seasoned dish comes flecked with raisins and slices of fresh grape; more traditional versions are typically stir-fried in ghee. For something lighter, Salad Nusantara drizzles passionfruit vinaigrette over greens, pearls of barley, and pumpkin batonnets; Indonesian touches come by way of serundeng (roasted coconut shavings) and the inclusion of ceciwis, which resembles Brussels sprouts but are nowhere near as pungent.
Add to this Taborda’s crowd-pleasers from the year-round menu—perhaps his homemade chorizo or a platter of empanadas stuffed with mozzarella, spinach and ricotta, and beef—and you have an impressive cross-cultural feast to be savored in the company of family and friends.
The “It Takes Two to Tango” menu is only available at Sudestada until August 31, 2023.