Jakarta Post – 26.04.09
It is finally time for Jakarta to step up and join the ranks of internationally acclaimed cities like Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.
From Harvey Nichols, to Chanel, international chains have their eyes on Jakarta. Last but not least is Michael Ma’s famous and well-known multi concept creation: “IndoChine” which opened in Jakarta on the weekend.
Here is what Indochine’s creator, Michael Ma, has to say about his new baby.
What initially inspired you to create IndoChine?
The IndoChine Group was first founded in Singapore in 1999, at the height of the Asian economic crisis. IndoChine was started on the basis that there was a clear demand in the market for authentic Indochinese cuisine – foods such as Green Papaya Salad and Pomelo Salad which originate from my hometown, Laos but also from Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam. We wanted to introduce these foods that are tasty and “nutriceutical” – nutritious and full of pharmaceutical benefits – to Singapore. We do not use any preservatives in the cooking of our food and only use the freshest and most natural ingredients, many of which are native to Indochina, including lemongrass.
At the same time, we wanted to share this Asian culture with a rapidly booming Western society. We wanted to marry the traditional aspects of Asia with modern life as we know it to be and develop a unique and distinctive experience for all of our guests that are multi-dimensional and always interesting. IndoChine is, at the end of the day, all about a lifestyle – we are not simply a restaurant, or just another club. We are about the wine and dine; fashion; arts and culture; entertainment; sports and even the environment.
When guests visit IndoChine, they can be certain that they will be wowed and suitably impressed from the time they step in through the doors, right down to the very minute when they leave our premises. Even then, they will continue to talk about IndoChine and the memorable experiences they have had. Since 1999, we have expanded steadily and now have more than 15 venues in Singapore alone. We have also established ourselves across Asia and even Europe, including Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; New Delhi, India and Hamburg and Germany.
Why did you choose FX as IndoChine’s location in Jakarta? Are you aiming to attract a younger crowd?
MM: The IndoChine Group, with its distinctive and unique approach to a contemporary Asian lifestyle, caters to a discerning market who appreciate the finer things in life and know that a good night out does not simply end when their food is eaten and the water has been drunk. Guests can always expect more than they bargained for at IndoChine and it will be no different at IndoChine Jakarta, especially with the brand new concepts that we are introducing into Jakarta for the very first time ever.
The locations that we choose are always and have always been very unique. When we first opened on Club Street, for example, many questioned our choice but we loved the venue and how eclectic the area was. It reminded me of Paddington or Oxford Street in Sydney, Australia. There were hardly any notable tenants on Club Street when we first opened in 1999 but we certainly drew in the crowds and made Club Street hip.
FX is in the heart of Jakarta Central Business District and is the newest and trendiest lifestyle centre to date. We were also offered a wonderful space by FX – the entire 8th floor which spans more than 30,000 square feet. With the luxury of space, we allowed our imagination to run wild and arrived at the various concepts that you see now, including IndoChine Restaurant + SupperClub, Bar Opiume, Siem Reap and IndoChine Beach Club.
FX is an exceptional location as there is no other spot in Jakarta that provides one with such a great, panoramic view of the city’s skyline, which is really the perfect complement to IndoChine’s Beach Club. We are also up high on the eighth floor and are therefore well placed away from the city’s pandemonium and the pollution from the traffic. At the same time, it is easily accessible and this for us is extremely important.
Why has it taken so long to open IndoChine in Jakarta?
We recognize the potential that Jakarta possesses and when presented with the opportunity to open, it was simply too good a chance to pass up. As mentioned earlier, it is all about the location for IndoChine and it was important that we secured the best possible location for our venue, as opposed to simply expanding for the sake of expansion.
Also, it is crucial that when we enter a new market, we are working together with business partners whom we can trust and who understand the intricacies of that particular country. When we first met and started speaking to Sari Dew, Boyke Nurtanio and Bokye Gozali, we knew that we would hit it off working together as we all possess the same drive and are of one mind to ensure that IndoChine Jakarta is successful and relevant to our guests.
We also see that there is a demand in Indonesia for great, authentic and “nutriceutical” Indochinese cuisine – that is food from the shores of Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos. With all of the aforementioned factors, there could be no better time than now to be a part of Jakarta and to also contribute its growth and development.
What make IndoChine Jakarta special?
Some of the concepts that we have introduced into Jakarta are concepts that we first launched in Singapore. This includes Siem Reap, Bar Opiume and the IndoChine Restaurant.
In this part of Asia, however, IndoChine Jakarta is the first to feature an IndoChine Beach Club. When we were first introduced to FX, we knew that it would be the ideal location for the IndoChine Beach Club as guests can enjoy a fantastic and unobstructed panoramic view of Jakarta’s Central Business District. Amidst much greenery and foliage, guests can enjoy signature IndoChine bistro bites in privacy, while still being a part of the city’s hustle and bustle.
In Europe, the IndoChine Beach Club was first introduced into Hamburg’s IndoChine.
With so many outlets around the globe, how do you keep up the consistency high standards?
We do our best to adapt IndoChine’s concepts according to individual concepts in their respective markets. We certainly do our best to retain the essence of each concept – whether Modern Chinese or Indochinese; bistro or bar – so that the respective markets will be able to appreciate them in their entirety.
However, we do the necessary research into each market before we begin operations, in order to ensure that our target market is properly looked after and that we are able to cater to market demands fully.
Our menus are not completely different in each location but it is important to understand the intricacies and sensitivities of the different markets. If there are any cultural and religious sensitivities pertaining to certain types of food or ingredients, we will do our best to adapt it for that country, as we want to respect our guests’ and their beliefs.
The evolution of IndoChine in Jakarta has just begun and is too early to judge. But, boys and girls, a new high-end playground has arrived in town.
Article courtesy of Jakarta Post.