Interview Maya Aldy – Otel Lobby
Published 30 May 2012
FRV Travel takes a few minutes with one of the classiest chefs in Jakarta.
Maya Aldy is chef and partner at Otel Lobby in Epicentrum, Kuningan, a restaurant that brings a new home-style angle and quiet sophistication in dining to the city of Jakarta. She has worked in restaurants in New York, Bali and Jakarta, where she is now based, and brings with her a deep passion for food and the ingredients from which they are made. Otel Lobby is a cool and casual eatery with a hip dynamic, much like the lady herself. With a smile, a casual word and a certain charm, she instantly makes people feel at home. She was born and bred in Jakarta and apart from 10 years spent in Bali and the USA, she has lived in her home city of Jakarta. For this reason, FRV Travel is speaking to her about the culinary side of the Big Durian, and started by asking her about her very own neighborhood.
Tell us something about Epicentrum, Kuningan, the home of Otel Lobby and other great new eateries.
Maya: I see the Epicentrum block to be an up-coming neighborhood for residents and office workers from the surrounding buildings. It has multiple access from the south and center of Jakarta and has lots of potential.
What are some of the other areas in Jakarta that are well known for dining out?
Maya: I like to go to Chinatown after work for some grub as there are numorous joints that open until late. I also like Menteng for its authentic, old school restos. Other areas like SCBD, Mega Kuningan and Kemang also have great options for eateries.
Give us your top five restaurants in Jakarta and why.
Maya: Ha! I like Imperial Chef in Chinatown for Chinese food, Seribu Rasa in Menteng for flavours, C’s for steak, Beautika for the array of Menado food, Trio Restaurant in Menteng, an old school Chinese restaurant that’s been around since the 60’s
Any obscure restaurants that folks shouldn’t miss on a trip to Jakarta?
Maya: Otel Lobby, ha ha ha… I’d say Seribu Rasa and a trip to Chinatown. I also like to chill out with a glass of mystic mojito at Lara Jonggrang’s back bar.
Do you find cooking methods are evolving in Jakarta?
Maya: Yeah… I see more and more cooking techniques in restaurants. Sous vide, dehydrated vegetables, molecular… a lot.
Your menu seems to be quite simple and home style in many ways. Did that influence come from your experience in the States or somewhere else?
Maya: I like to cook food that is familiar in taste and then play around with presentations and cooking methods. The influence came from my heritage and where I am at the present moment. My inspiration changes along with what’s available from the market and season.
Do you have a hunger for more restaurants and where would that be if you did?
Maya: I always have concepts in mind. At the present moment we are ‘cooking’ a concept and hoping to open before the end of the year. Where? Still somewhere in South Jakarta.
If someone is looking for a good night out on the town in this great big city, where would you suggest they go?
Maya: I’d say have a drink or two at Otel Lobby then head to Lucy in the Sky. After that, let your instincts lead you where you want to go.
Your restaurant also has many events and party nights. What kind of entertainment are you focusing on at Otel Lobby?
Maya: We actually like to have week night events and have some in-house events weekly and monthly. Every Wednesday we have a live acoustic set, DJs every weekend, and a party we just started called Soul Train every last Wednesday of the month. As far as F&B, we have a kitchen table and a Monday to Friday happy hour.
What do you think are the highs and lows of dining in Jakarta? What are they generally doing right and what do you think they are doing wrong?
Maya: Mmm… a toughie. The highs are the many options to choose from here in the city. Lows are some of these resturants are forgetting that restaurants are meant to serve good food and drinks consistently. Generally, the resturants are designed beautifully and really nice to look at, but like I mentioned earlier, what is a restaurant without good food and service?
Any other comments about this great city of yours?
Maya: I love this city. I have nothing but admiration on how it evolves continuously. It’s going to be good.