A Insider’s Take: Ajo Oorbeek

Published 31 May 2013   

FRV Travel chats with a regular at one of Bali’s busier restaurants.

Ajo Oorbeek has been a long time guest and diner at Ultimo restaurant on Jalan Laksmana, Oberoi. He’s seen it from the beginning when it changed from Toscana to the original Ultimo, growing to be one of the busiest eateries in Seminyak’s Oberoi area. Even now living in Canggu, Ajo continues being one of the restaurant’s most regular guests. He has propped up an end of the bar near the entrance, or come with his family and sat down at a table, most nights of the week for many years. David Trauts has sat with him chewing over many pertinent subjects while drinking a glass of wine and savouring some of the restaurant’s tasty morsels on many occasions. Some have called Ajo the gold card member, others would affectionately say the mad Dutchman, but he’s seen it change from one of the quietest restaurants to one of the busiest in town over the past six or seven years. David Trauts sat down at the bar for a chat once more and asked his opinion about what makes this particular restaurant tick.

FRV: How long have you been coming to Ultimo, Ajo?

Ajo: About seven years. About the same time the management was taken over by Paulus.

FRV: Was there something that particularly drew you to Ultimo in the beginning?

Ajo: I was invited the first time by friends and loved the warm ambience.

FRV: You’ve seen it from almost the start. What do you think was the single most important factor in making it the restaurant it is today?

Ajo: Everything was actually already there (after several renovations) only one thing was missing in the restaurant, an experienced manager with vision who could lead the way and turn the restaurant into a success.

FRV: Do you think other restaurants have learnt anything from the Ultimo experience?

Ajo: Other restaurants are too busy with themselves and have no idea or interest in the success of Ultimo. They only perceive Ultimo as a pain in the ash.

FRV: How about the food, is there anything in particular going for it?

Ajo: It is all about the right taste and consistency for the big variety of customers. The chef is able to please the palate of most of his customers.

FRV: In the beginning it was all about the price. How about now?

Ajo: For sure it was very cheap in the beginning but it was not the only element in a clever strategy to turn Ultimo around into a busy restaurant. Until now Ultimo is able to strike a balance between price, quality and service which attracts a lot of customers every night.

FRV: What would be your favourite dish?

Ajo: The fillet mignon is very good and inexpensive, but actually you cannot go wrong with any dish. The set menu is also a very good choice.

FRV: In your time there at the bar, what’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen?

Ajo: The bar of Ultimo is a social place where people can easily meet with each other. For locals it is like a home to meet friends, but most of the time later in the evening. Weird people are there and bring extra colour. The weirdest things I have seen are women dancing on the bar, people falling from their bar stool, but I assume this happens in every busy bar.

FRV: You have moved quite far away to live in Canggu now but continue making the trip to Ultimo. Aren’t there any restaurants of interest between here and there? What makes you continue to make the drive into town?

Ajo: It is a very personal thing. I am very attached to the whole atmosphere and my friends. I go less frequently but I still go at least four nights a week.

Most of the time I will try every new restaurant in town like Merah Putih, Slippery Stone, Mamasan, etc, but after one or two times I always come back to my Ultimo.

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