Great Food, Great Price : MyWarung

MyWarung warms up the Berawa and Echo Beach neighbourhoods with great food at a great price. God bless them both, writes Sarah Douglas. Photos: Lucky 8.

The sign outside of MyWarung in Berawa could well read, ‘welcome to the neighbourhood’. It’s friendly, charming and inviting. The music plays out jazz and blues, the décor is simple but pretty and the food is a surprise, it’s really good.

There’s nothing outside to really give that away. On passing, a small terrace sits at the front while a modest sign alerts you to the presence of MyWarung, but then the doors open and diners are enveloped in the intimate space. By day, MyWarung is a café serving better than average breakfast. Lunch and dinner is serviced by a small but delicious menu designed by a former Michelin-starred restaurant chef, French Canadian Hugo Coudurier.

A youthful and dynamic entrepreneur from Jakarta, the well-travelled Juan opened MyWarung with the help of friends. Many of them are former hotel staff who were convinced to join a more modest enterprise. The service therefore has the backbones of experience but in a far more casual setting; everyone working there seems to have let out a huge sigh of relief and is rediscovering the joy of hospitality on a more personal basis.

It’s a little like an Indonesian version of the Cheers bar where everyone knows each other, people at adjoining tables compare their meals and the staff greet guests in a crisp but laidback way. MyWarung on Jl Subak Sari seats only 40 guests at most, 20 downstairs and another 20 in a mezzanine upstairs. It’s cosy.

The Australian entrecote is the star of the show here and people are talking about it. At just Rp150,000 (no ++), it’s a complete meal with a perfectly cooked 250g Australian rib eye blackened on the outside, pink and tender inside. It’s served with hand cut chips, bearnaise sauce and a crisp green salad with walnuts dressed in a mustardy vinaigrette. The price is a draw but you’d be happy to get a steak cooked this well for double the price. I couldn’t fault it.

My partner in dining doesn’t fancy blood so she chose the lamb chops, ‘suitably charred, please’. She loved it as well, served with rosemary potatoes and vegetables and three lovely lamb cutlets for Rp150,000. Game on.

The couple next to us (the tables are small and close together, adding to the intimacy of this venue), who were having the pork chops, didn’t have a lot of time to say much between bites and blissful sound effects, but hardly needed to say they enjoyed their meal. Meat is a highlight here, (although don’t turn away yet vegetarians). Cooked over coconut charcoal there is another steak with a higher price tag, a crispy skinned chicken thigh, the lamb and pork chops, all served with hand cut chips, a green salad and a choice of sauces.

The pork chops almost won me over, marinated in coconut sugar and mustard, they did look tempting.

French-Canadian chef Hugo has worked in celebrated kitchens across Europe and the United States, his brief was to create a small menu to satisfy both Western and Asian tastes, with an emphasis on high quality meat. Mentoring and training the local staff has clearly worked a treat as the food comes out nicely plated with a home-style charm and it tastes great. All you can really ask for, but there is more to MyWarung and it is definitely a sense of neighborhood, a charm that can’t be designed or tailored. It’s real.

For lunch, drop-ins will love the salad menus. Indonesian dishes we can’t live without include mie goreng and nasi goreng, or the burgers, wraps and sandwiches served with fries and salad. The host in the Berawa MyWarung, Kass, is a former Ritz-Carlton employee who was lured back to the hospitality industry after a long hiatus as a photographer.

He greets you at the door, pops by to make sure everything is going well and knows all the regular guests. Little wonder that MyWarung has already opened another chapter in Echo Beach and plans to open in Jakarta and Surabaya soon.

The restaurant is a gathering place as much as a food outlet and MyWarung has incorporated all the best aspects, made it a comfortable, pretty place to eat and hang out and added a little charisma to the mix. The neighborhood just got a new favourite.

www.mywarung.com