A New Perspective on Salt
One of Jakarta’s hottest new restaurants, Salt grill by Luke Mangan brings the Celebrity Chef’s acclaimed brand of modern Australian cuisine to Jakarta with flying colours.
Although only having been open one year, Salt grill by Luke Mangan has undoubtedly changed the landscape of Jakarta’s dining scene. Offering up a combination of a stellar location, exquisite atmosphere and consistently high-calibre cuisine from a celebrity chef, it has become one of the benchmarks against which all new high-end restaurants in the city must be compared to.
The brainchild of Australian Celebrity Chef Luke Mangan, Salt grill in the Altitude complex brings Mangan’s celebrated take on modern Australian cuisine to Indonesia’s capital. After earning a reputation as one of Sydney’s finest restaurateurs with his first establishment, the critically lauded Salt, he built upon that success to create a culinary empire throughout the region, with a series of popular cookbooks bearing his name and more Salt restaurants in Australia, Singapore, Tokyo, P&O cruiseliners and Indonesia (he opened the very popular Salt tapas at the Sentosa Seminyak Resort in Bali last year).
Since Luke Mangan has a Salt empire to run, he leaves his most trusted Executive Chefs to run the restaurants bearing his name. Jakarta’s Salt grill is helmed by Executive Chef Marjon (MJ) Olguera, who has been working with Mangan for quite some time.
“I first met Luke in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales where he was hosting a dinner in a restaurant in a vineyard. I was helping out on the function and assisting in preparing the menu. I then met him properly 4 years later, when I did a trial at one of his first restaurants Salt in Sydney. We have now been working together for 10 years,” Chef MJ says.
Just on the cusp of celebrating Salt grill’s One Year Anniversary (see pg. 30) for more on Altitude’s 1-Year Anniversary events), Chef MJ says one of the best things about the restaurant’s first 12 months is the way his staff has come together. ”One of the highlights for me is keeping my team for a whole year. Normally staff in Jakarta is quite fickle and they tend to leave often but we have very ambitious and dedicated chefs here. We are like a family now.”
The talented staff at Salt grill certainly work well together, consistently producing bold, flavourful dishes that reflect Mangan’s rustic approach to modern Australian cuisine. It’s an approach that has proven quite popular with the capital’s residents.
“We have been quite lucky with the local Indonesian guests as our Modern Australian menu has many Asian inspired tastes. Our signature dish ‘Sydney crab omelette’ has a miso mustard broth and an Asian herb salad with lime dressing. Another signature dish, the ‘kingfish sashimi’ with a ginger and eschallot dressing, has also proven popular.”
As the name of the restaurant would suggest, grilled items are another speciality of the house. You’d be hard pressed to find Australian beef treated better in Jakarta. All of the steaks come from top Australian producers such as Rangers Valley in New South Wales and O’Connors Beef in Gippsland, Victoria. The cuts, from the meltingly tender Wagyu 7+ tenderloin to the ribeye, are cooked with care and come with a choice of sauces or Luke Mangan’s signature mustards. If you’re really hungry and have a friend or two who feels likewise, go for the massive roasted chateaubriand, which comes with crips zucchini and onion rings, pancetta, roasted garlic, bone marrow and tarragon sauce.
Salt grill offers guests a wide range of dining experiences, from a special tapas menu for those wanting a more casual dining experience to a 7-course degustation menu for those looking to go all out. There are also unique specials going on daily throughout the week, such as the Sunday Roast, which changes every week and comes in a IDR. 200K package which includes a glass of wine, to the weekend picnic lunches for ladies, available on Sat-Sun from 11AM to 4PM.
Our favourite of their weekly events would have to be the “Oysters Your Way” menu, only available on Thursday. Guests can order the freshly flown in oysters by the dozen or half-dozen and, the best part is, you can have them prepared in one of 12 different styles. Chef MJ says, “We started the promotion when we were able to get Australian oysters from Coffin Bay, South Australia. I wanted to showcase these to the locals as they are just so delicious. Joe Pavlovich, Executive Chef of Luke Mangan group, was my biggest inspiration with oysters. He is one of my mentors and I used to love watching him be so passionate about oysters and create these oysters 12 different ways in Sydney. It was a big seller and I wanted to bring a similar concept to Jakarta.”
The 12 styles include traditional oyster accompaniments like mignonette sauce and classic preparations like oysters baked with a creamed baby spinach gratin. More inventive versions see toppings such as a spicy Bloody Mary granita and bits of scallop with truffle dressing. Chef MJ says, “I love oysters naturally, but if I was to choose one of the 12 garnishes it would be the tempura oyster with wakame salad and wasabi dressing. That takes me back to working at Luke Mangan’s restaurant Salt in Tokyo.”
With it’s well-appointed setting in the Altitude complex’s 46th floor, featuring floor-to-ceiling windows with amazing panoramic views of Jakarta from up on high, many guests were probably lured to Salt grill simply to see the capital in a new way. But over its first year, Salt grill has undoubtedly given the city’s food lovers a fantastic new perspective on modern fine dining as well.