Above a busy hair salon on Ciranjang street sits Aunty Chef by COOK’s with the charm of a small, stylish bistro, the kind you’d find amidst a row of streetside restaurants set in a cool neighbourhood or tucked inside a curious alley like a rare gem waiting to be discovered. Stepping in, the big arched windows naturally brighten the compact L-shaped room, while the stainless steel interior, lego flowers on each table and sporadic red accents easily make an impression.
Yet even with this sleek, 22-seater set-up, owner Rani Siregar and chef-owner Lukita Juwadi want the focus to be on the food they make: contemporary and comfort dishes with international influences. “Even though my technique is French, we never fixate on one type of cuisine. Since we love travelling, we interpret that experience through food,” said Lukita, the ‘aunty’, who studied at the distinguished FERRANDI Paris culinary school; one of her impressive stints was working under the French chef titan, Joël Robuchon.
The result is a menu, which includes the Chef’s Table Experience of a five-course tasting menu, that plates up dishes like the foie gras pudding as one of the starters, hidden underneath parmesan foam and infused with yuzu jam for a refreshing kick; a sharing plate of crowd-favourite crablio (crab aglio olio) pasta, where the usually deep garlic flavour is subtly balanced with the sauteed crab and moderately spiced with rawit (bird’s eye chilli); and the surprising favourite side dish of honey-glazed brussels sprouts. “We also rotate the menu every three months so diners can return and get excited about experiencing something new,” said Rani.
Another highlight is the sharing plate of the Chef’s Cuts, where carefully selected cuts of beef, like the premium Australian Blackmore striploin or full-blood wagyu short ribs, are turned into a specialty, family-style dish. “There’s nothing more comforting than a plate of steak,” said Lukita, a certified butcher herself, who is passionate about the meat she serves and the conditions that revolve around its process, from sourcing consciously to adhering to sustainable methods (but that’s probably another story altogether).
Open from 5.30 PM to 10 PM with a 30-minute kitchen break in between, it’s recommended to reserve seats prior to coming. And that’s one of the special things about COOK’s, its limited space isn’t a limitation, but a reason to return; food is treated with great care and informed servers introduce each dish with a certain pride, while the seasonal menu keeps diners in for a surprise. The atmosphere finds resemblance to fine dining, but it’s ultimately casual and comfortable. What’s Aunty Chef going to cook up next? That’s the wonder.