Their story began when Tasia and Gracia won My Kitchen Rules (MKR) Australia in 2016. Interestingly, none of them come from culinary background: Tasia graduated from Physiology Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and Gracia graduated from Biomedical Health Service University of Melbourne, they admitted that their mother and grandmother are the ones who taught them how to cook and inspired them to do what they do today. Never did they imagine that they would win the competition and ended up opening their own restaurant, but here they are today serving the most authentic Indonesian cuisine in Australia from the kitchen of their restaurant, MAKAN.
After the duo won MKR, they wandered around Australia for about two years to try to improve their cooking competency. They do this by attending food catering demonstration and opening pop up restaurant, while simultaneously strengthening their networking and partnership in the industry. It did not take long for them to open an Indonesian restaurant specialising in Balinese cuisine. That was the day the restaurant MAKAN was born. The name illustrates the habit of Indonesian people who usually use the term “makan”, i.e. “eat”, every time they ask people to eat and say “Makan, makan!” or “Let’s eat!” For Indonesians, this word reminds us of how we often gather everyone in the house to have a meal. Through MAKAN, Tasia and Gracia wish to create the atmosphere of hearth and home where family and friends gather and dine. In addition to that, Valerie, the Head Chef said that the menu is created to be easily shared by different people on the dining table because they want people to come and share the joy of dining together.
Located at 360 Collins Street in Melbourne, MAKAN distinguishes itself from others by serving exquisite Indonesian menu. This exquisite feel is also complemented by the Bali-esque atmosphere of the dining room and rich selection of authentic Indonesian cuisine on the table. Stepping in, one couldn’t help but feel the soothing atmosphere of the restaurant. The dim lights are reminiscent of a seaside Bali bar. The jazzy tune playing in the background eases the mind and entices customers to stay longer and get lost in the music. Coupled with the bar table inside the restaurant, it’s easy to imagine sitting down by a Bali seaside bar in the evening and enjoying a serene night under the light with your friends. MAKAN’s heavy emphasis on the Bali-esque experience is also reflected in their menu.
“The dream is that we want to bring people together through food and dining experience. Something that can reminds Indonesian diaspora of home and a place where Australians can learn about Indonesian cuisine,” explained Tasia and Gracia. Their business partner, Randy, added that they wish to showcase Indonesian food properly in their casual dining restaurant – not as a cheap street food available on the go but as a dining experience everyone can enjoy. Something that attracts our attention is XX imprint on their glasses. “XX means kiss. That symbolises us, our sisterhood. We also have another logo as our signature, it is a two connected leave.” said Gracia.
And now, let’s check out MAKAN’s favourite menu!
Soft-shell crab with Padang tomato sauce and steamed bun
The plump fluffiness of the bun combined with the crunchy softness of the soft-shell crab easily melt in your mouth and fill you up with a mouthful of subtle delicacy. As if that isn’t enough, the Padang tomato sauce tantalises your tongue and build up your appetite for what is to come. The sweet taste of the Padang tomato sauce itself differentiates the menu from many others. Sometimes, simplicity truly is the best.
Fish sate lilit with lemongrass, galangal, coriander and pickled daikon
Not many can guess that the satay was actually fish! It is a pleasant surprise to note since the texture feels a lot like beef or chicken instead. The tenderness and rich taste of the meat is enough to make anyone’s mouth watery. As if that isn’t enough, the simmered pickled daikon gives you a nudge with its mild sourness and you’re back for more before you know it.
Braised semur oxtail, green papaya, carrots and thick beef broth
The first time my tongue feels it in my mouth, all the memories of home are playing around in my brain. It tastes so Indonesian! The braised semur oxtail is unlike any other that you’ve had. Before wolfing it down, it is wise to slowly enjoy the fragrant aroma of the broth. As the scent of beef broth tickles your nose, you will see why they include “THICK BEEF BROTH” in the description – it’s just that important! Next, try out the broth and you will be greeted with a burst of flavour from sweet, salty and mildly sour all culminating in a culinary masterpiece. Finally, as you slice the oxtail, you realise how tender the meat is and how the broth seeps into every fiber of the meat. Feeling hungry now? We totally understand.
Ubud crispy duck with fresh cabbage, cucumber, basil and mixed sambal
Crispy duck skin with soft meat – although it tastes quite salty, when combined with rice and sambal, it blends in perfectly into a culinary dream menu, it is simply perfect! The slightly sour sambal matah is perfect for those looking for lighter chili flavour while the sambal goring is best suited to those looking for heavier chili flavour. For those looking for a challenge, the duck bones are brittle and edible. Though it takes some time to fully chew on them, it is certainly worth the effort.
Cendol panna cotta with jackfruit, pandan tapioca pearls, palm sugar and coconut foam
This dessert is a hybrid of the es cendol dessert from Indonesia – and it tastes marvellous! Instead of using shaved ice as a base, this dessert uses panna cotta. The mildly sweet taste of the cendol suits the palate of whomever wishes to try it for themselves. This is in contrast to the usually sweet es cendol but the combination of palm sugar and coconut foam makes up for it and is, in our humble opinion, the best part of it!
Black sticky rice with salted coconut cream, sesame nougatine, coconut and kaffir lime ice cream
The sweetness of the combination is light. Eating all the individual part of the dessert at the same time will show you just how exquisite this dessert truly is. The taste and texture of sesame nougatine will surprise you with an indescribable feeling as strong as love itself. The kaffir lime ice cream acts as a cherry on top by giving further sweetness and delicacy to the dessert. Get that dessert stomach ready coz’ it’s in for a ride!
Bali Sunrise Mocktail
The drink combines the freshness of orange juice, lemon juice, and lime juice with the creaminess of soda and egg white foam and the mild sourness of raspberry sherbet on top. Refresh your day this summer by trying out this one-of-a-kind fresh beverage!
MAKAN is attempting to realise a dream Indonesians always secretly hope to have – an Indonesian restaurant serving authentic Indonesian flavour that stays true to its original taste and ingredient. With the chef’s expertise, the good food and the contemporary store design, you should truly give the place a chance. We’ll let you be the judge on how the restaurant fares in terms of the taste. Spoiler alert though, it’s simply marvellous!
Text: Siti Mahdaria and Edward Tanoto
Photos: Windu Kuntoro