Indonesian people has a saying, “If you don’t know it, then you won’t love it.” So when I set foot in a restaurant named Code Grafiti, I have no expectation at all. The restaurant is located on the entrance of a new boutique hotel, Yan’s House Hotel in Kartika Plaza Street. As I explore the hotel, experience the food and talk to the Chef, I began to know the heart and passion that goes into every single thing happening in the hotel and the restaurant. I began to fall in love.
When you enter Code Grafiti, you will see a pastry bar with pastries and sweets. Then you will enter rows of tables and chairs with a hint of Victorian style. This is not what we imagine when reading the name Code Grafiti. What we might imagine is something street style, spray paint, artsy. When we ask Chef Bondan Yuliarso – the answer is pretty straight forward. “Grafiti for us represents something rebelious, anti-establishment. Because this is what we do. When you come here for lunch or dinner, we have prepared a six-course meal that are full of surprises. Anyone can enjoy this, those wearing shorts, those who dresses up nicely, anyone. We don’t follow the normal standard, we just do what we do,” says Chef Bondan.
As he shared the story about how Code Grafiti started, we are given macaroons with cold towel as a welcome treats. This is unexpected, yet a sweet surprise. Desserts for starters. They really are not playing by the rules. Then the Chef explains how we are going to try their Six-Course lunch menu. Again, we have no expectation. But what we tasted is an adventure on our taste buds.
Chef Bondan is not a new kid on the block. He has been cooking and experimenting with food since the 90s, back in Jakarta. So don’t expect him to concoct something ‘normal’. That is not his style. His first code is to cook with what you have, meaning most of the ingredients he uses are the best local ingredients that are available in the market. However, he admits that there are some items that he have to import to get the best quality. Second code is: never cease to try something new or be creative. Just like when they served us the Amuse-bouches, which are “Obay Nyamuk and Scallop Turmeric Yuzu” and three types of homemade breads – black olive bread, focaccia bread and ciabatta bread. Taking inspiration from the old school mosquito repellent, Chef Bondan creates the dish from rice and squid ink. These are unique and a great conversation starters. But the real dishes that amuses my mouth is that black olive bread. So delicious!
Then comes the six courses. From the eye, down to the palate. It has a artistic level degustation menu, built with the collaboration of the skills of the chefs, in exploring the combinations of Indonesia’s fresh natural ingredients, resulting in the rich, exotic taste of our dishes that would tickle your taste buds. The first appetizer is so refreshing and different. It is a challenge on those who says fruit cant be combined with seafood, or poultry for that matters. The dish is called, “Crab Meat Sirsak” and the name says it all. Then comes the “Yellow Duck Salad” that basically combines duck with mangosteen. These dishes take a play on Indonesian’s best exotic fruits, and they are delicious. Just for these two dishes alone, you should come to Code Grafiti and really get a taste of Indonesia.
The mains come in the form of “Cod Fish Number 7” served with beetroot juice, yellow zucchini puree and green mousseline. The fish is light and delightful. Then we move on to Beef Massaman Deconstruction, with tamarind pure, okra and pickles. Normally, I would be happy just eating my medium well meat with its juice. But again, Chef Bondan blew my mind as he poured me that massaman curry sauce that really elevates the flavour of the meat. Between the fish and the meat, they served up a cold watermelon sashimi with mint paste as a palate cleanser. The frozen fruit got even colder with a bite of that mint paste. Such a clever combination that leaving me wanting more. The ending comes in a form of Green Tea Pannacotta. A sweet ending, indeed.
The restaurant has a 40-seat capacity, and it is specifically designed for your comfort with classic, elegant touches. Friendly service is also a hallmark of our lovely restaurant. The various delicious surprises awaiting you in this restaurant are sure to be an unforgettable culinary experience that enhances your stay at Yan’s House Hotel. Located on the Ground Floor, it opens from 11.00 a.m. to 10.00 p.m.
So the next time you come strolling at Kartika Plaza Street, or when you just want a bite of something different, or simply a chat with someone who trully loves his food like Chef Bondan, just come to Code Grafiti and open your heart. Then, you will fall in love, like I do.
Jl. Kartika Tuban Kuta
(Ground Floor of Yan’s House Hotel Bali)