The curiosity to experiment with food is the reason the world of culinary is continually stirring excitement for casual food lovers and serious epicureans alike. While a restaurant is a lot about food, an important aspect is also its conceptual approach to it, entailing inspiration, technique and vision not merely as marketing jargons to reel in customers, but as the drive to create something genuine in the kitchen.
At Akar, food is rooted in Indonesian boldness that is married to atypical cooking techniques and presentation to create dishes that are familiar, yet so novel as an experience. “I’d call our food progressive because the dishes are Indonesian but processed not-so traditionally [Indonesian] with the aim to present something new within the cuisine,” as recapitulated by Head Chef and the restaurant owner, Chef Mac Gyver. In the case of Akar, this approach bore the creation of deliciously intriguing dishes that are that: grounded and new.
This signature move is found across the dishes. Like a teaser, the Kremes Tacos is a bite-sized starter with ox tongue and sambal hijau served on mini galette-shaped kremes. For the mains, they offer veggies, like the ebi-fragrant Genjer Balacan (stir-fried genjer flower and leaves with balacan sauce), the fresh Jambu Jeruk Bali (yes, a savoury fruit salad mix made of guava, pomelo and orange citrus vinaigrette), and proteins from land and sea. From the latter, a highlight dish is the Ikan Saos Kecombrang that nails a complex balance of flavours between sour, sweet, umami and bitter—a style often found in French cuisine.
Looking in the same direction, another Akar speciality is the Rendang 48 Jam, a dish that employs a mix of techniques for the rendang sauce and sous-vide cooking for the meat. It yields the familiar flavour of homespun rendang but with the pleasure of tender pink meat as its star. Speaking of star, Duck Zang is Chinese bacang stuffed inside honey-glazed deboned duck and incredibly delicious. “It’s a highly technical dish because we’re removing the bones and glazing the duck for a long time,” Chef Mac continued, “it’s inspired by the American Thanksgiving turkey but different and more exciting in every way.”
Despite being decked on Gunawarman street, the restaurant has kept a low profile but continues to attract the attention of epicureans. For one, it’s undoubtedly the food that brims with passion. But also, one cannot disregard the crafted drinks that pair beautifully with the food, and a je-ne-sais-quoi ambiance at the restaurant that convinces you to stay for one more glass after your meal.