Dedicated to the Babah culture on the island of Java between the VOC period and the 1900s.
Dapur Babah Élite, the first culinary outing by Indonesia’s acclaimed Tugu Hotels & Restaurants Group, is set in a pair of refurbished 1940s shophouses located just off Jakarta’s central Merdeka Square on Jalan Veteran 1.
Anhar Setjadibrata, owner of Tugu Hotels & Restaurants and a long-time collector of Indonesian antiques, with daughter Lucienne, designed the restaurant and adjoining bar to capture the rich nuances of early 20th century Java. The result is a menagerie of period mementoes and paraphernalia, such as reclaimed teak furniture, rustic housewares (scales, meat grinders, pestles and mortars), and the signboard advertising Hap Liong Tailor, the shophouses’ original tenant. Rooms are painted in bold pastel-crayon combinations of red and green, black and red, purple and blue, while stone statues of Chinese, Hindu, and Buddhist gods smile down on diners.
All of these aspects of the culture are celebrated at Dapur Babah Élite, now one of the best dining addresses and the most romantic restaurants in Jakarta, elegantly decorated with photos of prominent Babah families, some fabulously wealthy, such as the powerful sugar baron Oei Tiong Ham, and many other artifacts of the colonial period, such as a bulky VOC emblem from the 17th century and a room separator from the Ming Dynasty.
The front part of Dapur Babah is a Babah tea and coffee bar, possibly where the housemasters used to live and entertain their family friends and guests. The back part of Babah is a semi open terrace that is inspired by the humble kitchen of the Babah Oei family, with a kitchen Goddess protector, protecting the Babah cooks there. There are old Chinese glass lanterns and Babah old kitchen utensils.
Dapur Babah Élite specializes in Babah Peranakan cuisine featuring original recipes derived from the cross-cultural marriage of Chinese settlers and native Javanese women that emerged in the colonial area. The fused culture includes the dining culture, the dining ritual as well as the choices of the menu. The“best –of” the three cuisines were incorporated into dishes that were gradually altered. These dishes were then known as Babah cuisine.
Dapur Babah is therefore dedicated to Djebrak, Su and Mbok Mun for their homey Babah fried rice, Sampir for her famous Fuyonghai tofu, Cik Hwa for lodeh kacang tolo and cecek, Ncik Djien for bubur taoco, Mak Kwie for lemper and bloeder. Daily Babah menu such as rice with chicken and egg in yellow sauce, bandeng garang asem (Javanese fish in hot and sour soup), macaroni cake and potato croquette with taoco sauce.
In Dapur Babah, the coffee and tea are the blends of old Babah families that are prepared specially for Dapur Babah, in line with its goal to bring back to life every aspect of this old Babah culture. The utensils used in presenting the tea and coffee are as well antiques that originated from Babah families in Java.
Dapur Babah is a place to eat and drink while remembering the Babah history in Java. All the buildings in the whole street once belonged to a rich sheikh from Yemen. For his dispute with the British colony, he was given the persona non-grata status, and was compensated by substantial wealth, he owned 167 mansions in the best locations in Batavia.
Dapur Babah Élite
Jl. Veteran I / 18 – 19
Jakarta – Indonesia
Phone +62 21 385 5653, +62 851 006 02256 www.tuguhotels.com/restaurants/jakarta/dapurbabahelite/