Italian Pasta Weds Asian Rice: Pastis Jakarta

 Italian Pasta Weds Asian Rice: Pastis Jakarta

Pastis was Sired by an Indonesian-Italian couple, which may be the first reason for success behind this new Italian-Asian bistro in Jakarta. VE HANDOJO takes a delicious class in mixed marriages in downtown Kuningan.

Photos by Ramadhan

It’s frustrating to know what kind of family this country wants. On one side, it bans a homogenous marriage – meaning no same sex, please. On another side, no mixing either. Are you an Indonesian guy falling in love with a Vatican drag queen? Good luck!

I have no idea how Indonesia’s leading lady entrepreneur, Teges Prita Soraya, ended up with ‘Guerinoni’ as her surname. Obviously, she’s married to Matteo Guerinoni. I have no idea how easy, or how difficult, for them, coming from different backgrounds, it was to get married. One thing for sure, the union has not just produced two angelic girls, but also Pastis – an edible brainchild of them both.

Pastis is not only a bistro. It’s a home, and a witness to how family life should always be celebrated with friends, relatives, neighbours, and newcomers. Located in a boxy, pretty much forgotten corner of the Kuningan Suites, Pastis choses to escape the style of a posh, swanky, modern urban hang-out. Instead, Pastis reinterprets traditional kinship values with its main dining table, big enough for twenty, set in a kitchen-like layout. The big, heavy, long wood table is the centerpiece of Pastis, guarded by tall shelves well-stocked with dining utensils and homeware. Cooking tools are hung on the other side. Immediately, you feel like you’re a guest warmly welcomed by the hosts to the most intimate part of their house, ready to be served with fresh meals direct from the stove.

Pastis marries Italian homecooking with Asian delicacies. Salmon carpaccio salad, drizzled with lemon and olive oil paired with fried rice with shredded duck – why not? Especially when the salmon is luminous and delicate, and the duck is crunchy. Or, what about matching seafood caciucco with beancurd claypot? The shrimps, clams, mussels, and squids, all drenched in feisty tomato oregano soup, then the warm beancurd will give your throat a gentle wash.

Don’t be afraid! Get the oxtail soup, and continue with homemade fetucinne with prawns and pesto sauce. Experience the slurpy start that ends with a fiery sensation! The menu goes wide enough to please both the Asian side and The Sopranos, so surely you will find a match for Hainan chicken rice and pan-fried snapper.

While traditional family values are celebrated in the white-meets-brown main dining table of Pastis, the long marble bar welcomes singletons who are looking for a quick fix and match. The fresh and kicking peach martini will become a powerful pick-up line, and nuclear iced tea can show how dangerously innocent you are. Pastis is one of the very few places in Jakarta that serves Moscato Rosé – a sweet temptation too hard to resist by many.

But if you’re not in a rush to start a family, or to mate, and all you want is to have a cheerful evening with happy and fabulous friends, then head to the room next door. The tables are good for idle chit chat, Facebook gatherings, or perhaps dumping your lousy lover in the company of good fellas.

When the weather is nice, and the evening sky is clear, the al fresco setting in the backyard garden is definitely the place to be. Accompanied with the truest form of tiramisu – trust me, this one is no cake! – coffee, and champagne, you’ll believe that there will be no more lonely nights. Even the hippest and coolest single urbanite will wish that he or she lived and had a family – most likely a mixed one – in Pastis.

The key to Pastis’s success in being the talk of the town very shortly since opening in December last year may sound cliché, but it’s true: love. Love of good food, love of great friends, love of gracious family. And it all comes within a very reasonable price; the pan fried snapper, after being bathed in white wine, and dressed with fresh tomato, black, and green olive, is priced only at Rps 72K. The dark chocolate melts at Rps 40K and the festive seafood caciucco is Rps 72K.

Mixed marriage in this third world country may come with such a high price. But if Pastis can marry Italian pasta and Asian rice harmoniously, then why can’t we? Diversity, when done well, leads to delightful results.

The Kuningan Suites, Ground Floor
Jalan Setiabudi Utara, Kuningan, Central
Jakarta 12920
Tel: +62 21 526 0260

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