Every adventure touching down in Jakarta has been about opening more doors in a place with endless doors to open. With the reputation of having some of the world's worst traffic, Jakarta is still greatly enjoyable mostly because of Jakarta people. With the heart for community and an endless sense of humour, Indonesians are some of my favourite people in the world.
Over the next few days, while footage is being edited from my performances in Jakarta with "Indo Etnik Mystical" group Kunokini, I will post moments, tips and favourite places in Jakarta & Bandung to check out.
Jl.Saharjo No.33 Mangarai Jakarta Selatan
Our first stop is Sambelan CUK! newly open restaurant of soulful crooner Denny Frust. If you follow this former font man of Indonesian Ska outift Monkeyboots on IG, it's exhausting to keep up with his touring schedule - rocking thousands of kids and Rocksteady fanatics across Indonesia, he is in a different city every night.
On this day, we catch Denny right off the plane from his latest performance, and directly into the kitchen where he cooks authentic food from Surabaya. He shows me how he gets to the market early to gather the fresh spices and food and hand grinds (sometimes hammers) the ingredients into the perfect taste that we enjoy. Sambelan CUK! is Javanese and roughly translates to "Chili Muthafucker!" With a name like that it's no wonder that his Chilli is hand pounded and fresh every day. I order Rawon, a beef soup made from an intricate blend of spices, that is eaten with rice. Actually - everything is eaten with rice (nasi) in Indonesia. My friends order the a Chicken (Ayam) and Rice dish that is one part crispy and tender, offset by the sour spiciness of his fresh Sambelan chilli.
The one thing that makes good food great, is the company and stories told. I asked Denny many questions about the Reggae community in Indonesia, why Bob Marley was well but few other Reggae legends are known and how he came to be such a great singer. His words always addressed taking the time to understand community and the power in numbers, learning about how many kids grow up in Ghettos around Jakarta and how he himself used to sing on the bus for change and spent his days' earnings on nasi. As he told his stories, I realized the boy that once hustled for a bowl of rice was now serving us the most decadent rice dishes he cooked in his own restaurant.
Denny has been a great inspiration for me, the heart of a child, the voice of a thousand year old soul, a artist for the community - and now I realize a really damn good chef! If you are in J-town, find the time to try this man's food.