Executive Chef Chandra Yudasswara and his team at Portable Kitchen are focused not only on presenting an enticing menu but also on creating an ambience that perfectly suits the Indonesian culture of communal dining and relaxing with friends, family and colleagues.
Strategically located in busy prime locations, the Portable Kitchen venues are neighbourhood spots with a cosy, welcoming feel, genuine hospitality and a relaxing outdoor scene.
The menu at Portable Kitchen is tempting for all palates, offering a full range of dishes from soups, salads and pastas, to a range of grilled meats and seafood, pizzas and western and Indonesian main courses. International favourites include crispy chicken aglio spaghetti, grilled Tasmanian salmon, French-cut lamb chops and mixed sausage pizza. Meanwhile, Indonesian tastes merge perfectly with western concepts in dishes like the green sambal oxtail spaghetti and spicy chicken rica pizza.
However, Chef Chandra has always been fascinated by genuine Indonesian home cooking and is passionate about serving flavoursome favourites that fully embrace authentic local flavours. Diners can enjoy iconic traditional delights such as ayam rica-rica, bebek Bali, nasi campur iga and tongseng kambing, as well as kampung-style fried rice and fried noodles.
In addition to the delicious food, Portable Kitchens have excellent beverage options that suit their location. Portable Kitchen restaurants can be found in Kelapa Gading in Jakarta, Gading Serpong in Tangerang and Samarinda in East Kalimantan. A more casual ambience can be found at Portable Lifestyle in Jakarta and Portable Bite and Brew in Jogyakarta.
- Kalio Beef Ribs
- Buntut Sambal Hijau
- Dori Dabu Dabu
Chandra Yudasswara – Executive Chef at Portable Kitchen
E: Who or what have been your biggest influences and inspirations?
C: My father, because he introduced me to kitchen life, and some of the senior chefs I’ve worked with, like Italian Master Chef Giampaolo Maffini and David Hammonds.
E: What are the most important philosophies that you apply in your career and in the kitchen?
C: Try to delegate and trust your own team. You can’t work alone in the kitchen and it’s important that everyone in the team knows what is inside the leader’s head.
E: What’s the most memorable/rewarding experience you’ve had in your career?
C: The most rewarding moments are when random guests come up to my kitchen and say thank you for the food that they had.
E: What do you think of Indonesia’s F&B scene in general?
C: I would really like to see Indonesian food gain worldwide recognition. Locally, Indonesian food should lead the market. Local comfort food is still highly popular in the country with both Indonesians and foreigners alike. I include local dishes in all my restaurants and some of the menus are now around 50 percent Indonesian.
E: What do you think are the biggest challenges?
C: The Indonesian F&B scene is growing well in Java and Bali, but it is difficult to access other islands to promote or introduce new culinary ideas. Most produce is sourced from places like Bandung and Malang in Java and then transported to other islands. You can imagine the amount of time needed to get produce from the farms to islands other than Java and Bali. This makes it very difficult to get things like salad leaves, which are only fresh for a very short time. Even if you can find them in places like Samarinda and other parts of Kalimantan, the price is triple. Even proteins, which can be transported more easily, are expensive.
E: Your journey took you overseas in the early days, what made you come back to Indonesia and start your own cooking empire?
C: I spent eight years working overseas and had achieved all the goals I had set for myself, including being in charge of F&B in five-star establishments. My next goal was to start my own outlets. I am involved in 10 restaurants, some I co-own with partners and others are franchises, but the best project is always the next one!
E: What tips would you give any young Indonesian looking to break into the culinary industry?
C: It’s much easier now for the younger generation and there are so many ways for them to learn, including online options, but it all comes back to what we decide to do and how much we want to do it. Every young chef wants to be celebrity chef or entrepreneur nowadays, but it requires strong commitment and hard work. For me, working with chefs who are much more experienced than me has always been priceless, there is always so much to learn. My advice is, before investing money in opening a restaurant, make sure you have hands-on experience and don’t imagine that because you like cooking you can be a successful restaurateur. And remember, it doesn’t need to be overly complicated – simplicity can also be a successful choice, so long as it is done well.
E: What is your ultimate goal as a chef?
C: It’s simple. Making people happy with the food that I cook.
Exquisite Taste June – August 2019