Lisa Virgiano, who holds a master's degree in communication for development from Sweden's Malmö University, aims to establish connectivity between local farmers and the chefs at Kaum. (Photo courtesy of KAUM Jakarta)

Kaum Offers Authentic Local Taste, Rare Ingredients and Artistic Touch

MAY 25, 2017

Jakarta. Following its success in Hong Kong and on Bali last year, the Potato Head group has opened another outlet, called Kaum, in Menteng, Central Jakarta, on Monday (22/05).

Set in a modern space in the high-end district, Kaum restaurant offers a lifestyle experience that combines Indonesia's culinary with culture.

The restaurant's interior boasts silver-grey precast walls inspired by traditional Dayak motifs of Kalimantan and is situated in a colonial building restored to its original shape. Contemporary design is mixed with vintage furniture and colorful Javanese tiles.

"We want to provide an intimate and comfortable atmosphere to make our customers feel more at home while they dine," Kaum brand director Lisa Virgiano said.

Beside offering unique Indonesian dishes, the restaurant collaborates with local artists, painters and musicians.

Between the open bar and the dining hall, guests can enjoy the work of renowned artist Jompet Kuswidananto. Ghostly figures made of horse saddles and hats, which symbolize Dutch colonization, will be displayed until August.

"Kaum Jakarta caters to guests of all ages. We strive to promote and celebrate Indonesia's rich and diverse culture through our cultural program," Lisa said.

The restaurant also promotes the local musical heritage with its collection of vinyl records.

Empowering Local Farmers 

Offering batagor (fried fish dumplings) and satay Maranggi (Wagyu beef satay) as well as less known traditional dishes such as bubor daun kelor kelapa muda (Moringa leaves and snake gourd cooked with fresh coconut milk), gohu ikan tuna (marinated Ttuna), and burung puyuh malon goreng bumbu rica-rica (deep-fried quail tossed with lemongrass, ginger, red chili and fresh lime relish), Kaum showcases the culinary traditions of several regions.

To develop Kaum's menu, Lisa and chef Antoine Audran worked closely with remote communities and independent local producers.

"We often visit local food producers to obtain the best quality ingredients," Lisa said.

In its quest to empower local farmers, Kaum looks for ingredients in various parts of the archipelago. The restaurant uses rice from Magelang, Central Java, salt from East Bali, palm sugar from North Sumatra, and terasi (shrimp paste) from Bangka Belitung Islands. Kaum also works closely with small producers of sweet soy sauce in Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta.

To ensure that its dishes are healthy, Kaum chefs use coconut oil and organic salt.

Kaum also offers vegetarian dishes, including pepes aneka jamur (grilled mushrooms wrapped in banana leaves), tumis keciwis tauco Pekalongan (stir-fried baby cabbage with garlic and fermented soybean paste from Pekalongan, Central Java), and laksa Bogor oncom merah (West Java-style vermicelli, lemon basil, bean sprouts and oncom served in turmeric coconut milk broth).

Lisa also takes pride in the restaurant's spice garden.

"We cultivate our spices, including basil, pandan leaves, ginger, dracaena leaves, galangal, cat's whiskers and ginger flowers, in our own garden."

Kaum was opened in Hong Kong last year, and has been included in the prestigious "Michelin Guide Hong Kong & Macau 2017."

In March, Kaum Hong Kong took part in the "Taste of Hong Kong" dining event alongside other Michelin-starred restaurants.