Picture coming over to the house of your cool aunt who has a knack for cooking. It’s an effect that Belly Bandit, a burger joint turned all-day breakfast and eatery in Menteng, can have on its diners.
The scene sets itself upon arrival. With the new identity, Belly Bandit has returned to the place where they first started in 2017: a quaint house smack dab on a corner amidst residential houses in the upscale neighbourhood. Except now, they’ve grown out of the garage to take over the rest of the house, all whilst keeping most of the original design and the elevated yet homey charm intact.
No parking spot for cars means that off the sidewalk, the tree-shaded path beyond the whitewashed walls leads directly to the house, creating a rare appeal in the car-centric city and strengthening Belly Bandit’s presence as a neighbourhood joint.
Sealing the impression of visiting a relative’s house, co-founder Icha Hartomo taps into her experience in public relations to train the crew in making comers feel at home. From mothers picking up their kids after school and work-from-cafe urbanites to the Indian diaspora expats from surrounding offices, frequent faces at Belly Bandit can expect the staff to know their names and favourite orders.
Meanwhile, in the kitchen, head chef, co-founder and Icha’s friend-slash-sister-in-law Erlene Susanto cooks up a spread of American-style comfort food, a nod to her culinary background and the two women’s time studying together in San Francisco. To her, good food “doesn’t always have to be foie gras or truffle, what’s important to me is that it’s comforting.”
And in Chef Erlene’s case, that means “highlighting each of the ingredients’ natural flavour and establishing a balance,” said Icha. “We firmly stand by going easy on the sauce, even if the local palate generally prefers a bolder, stronger taste.”
Options include an American twist on Cilbir Eggs, a classic Turkish breakfast where yoghurt, chilli sauce and eggs join in harmony; the rich and fulfilling Bandit Pastrami Sandwich, stacked with juicy slices of wagyu pastrami paired with Belly Bandit’s hectic sauce (inspired by a sauce of the same name in Australia); the newcomer Chicken n Waffle, which boasts a crunchy-yet-soft spiced batter for the tender chickens; as well as the Blueberry White Chocolate Cheesecake with its fresh blueberry topping to give the meal a subtly sweet and cleansing finish.
Portions are generous and leaving with a full, happy stomach is guaranteed—especially if one opts for the highlight-worthy milkshakes too. But there’s no pressure to depart so soon in the first place. Whether indoors and plugged into your laptop, or outdoors with your paw friend, time slips by with ease amidst the calming atmosphere. It seems that Belly Bandit has a knack not just for stealing your hunger away, but also for giving back comfort in return.