Much like the range of paintings, sculptures, interactive installations—and even a Mini Cooper shrouded with Spanish moss—that visitors can take pleasure in at Art Jakarta 2023, MANUAL Food Market arrives in a similar spirit by presenting a fresh and diverse curation of culinary gems from the city and its neighbouring areas. Happening in tandem at JIExpo in Kemayoran from 17 to 19 November 2023, the three-day event saw a lively crowd of art and culinary enthusiasts coming together to enjoy the twofold experience.
Gathering over 60 well-known galleries across Asia, the annual art fair was a showcase of Asian artistry at its best, displaying not only works by celebrated artists but also a collaboration between countries, notably South Korean artist Park Ji Hyun and TACO Group from Indonesia with ‘Thomson 6.1944 S 106.8229 E’ (2023), a vibrant tower built with recycled blades and other waste materials. It was a vast, comprehensive exhibition from one end of the hall to the other— an arena, if you will, for a global audience to deep dive into the current wave of the Asian art scene.
Post-exhibition, much of the crowd flocked to MANUAL Food Market, brushing shoulders with fellow visitors to check out and sample 19 F&B establishments that filled the indoor tent. Some, like notable ice cream treats Orvia, Pipiltin Cocoa, Gelato Secrets, and burger joint The Good Mess, returned after their first post at last year’s market in Jakarta Convention Center. But another page into the ever-growing culinary landscape was also represented through the presence of first-time tenants.
There was Fragments by Ryan Kim and Michelle Tanujaya, a Korean-style patisserie that had to restock its sweet and savoury scones even before day one ended. The Newsroom was rarely absent from a queue, with people lining up to get their caffeine fix. Newcomer Umami Issues surprised guests with exquisite bites infused with fresh Japanese ingredients, while Kura Kura Beer, natural wine Huckleberry Friend and The Golden Tooth’s cocktails with a twist provided much of the buzz with its lineup of libations.
“One of the highlights was actually getting paid with dollars because of the many expatriates visiting [Art Jakarta],” joked Timothy Raharjo, co-founder of MienTa Bakmi. Hailing from Yogyakarta, the noodle joint was one of the sought-after tenants at the market offering Chinese-style charsiu noodles and Hainan chicken rice, which they also had to restock every day due to popular demand.
“We learned a lot from our very first bazaar in Jakarta, from the technicality of cooking with an electric stove for the first time, learning about people’s preferences from different cities to gaining insights about other tenants’ branding and concept,” shared Timothy.
As for Ryan Kim, who was delightfully surprised by the enthusiasm towards Fragments’ treats, the market also presented an opportunity for businesses to support each other, share ideas and make new connections. “I like that this is a curation of small businesses with owners who are passionate about what they do—which was why many of the owners were actually there at their booths from start to finish.”