Two big names on the Indonesian dining scene have made the leap overseas—one to neighboring Singapore, and the other to Hong Kong
By Rachel Will
Singapore: Potato Head Folk
While some may lament the relocation of the decades-old Tong Ah coffee shop from its iconic Chinatown shophouse, the site’s new tenant —the first overseas outpost by the Jakarta-based Potato Head restaurant group—has brought fresh appeal to the triangular corner building. The three-in-one venture starts with burger joint Three Buns, which preserves the casual streetside ambiance of the original eatery with walk-up order windows and outdoor tables. Inside, the second floor offers the same menu but with tableside service amid whimsical interiors by Melbourne-based artist David Bromley. Upstairs, reservations- only cocktail bar Studio 1939 (named for the year the building was constructed) draws on gilded speakeasy glamour with buttery leather couches and high-back wicker chairs; a Bill Murray–inspired champagne cocktail service for five will set you back about US$480. If rum is your tipple of choice, make your way to The Rooftop for tropical tiki drinks and low-rise views of the surrounding rainbow array of shophouses (36 Keong Saik Rd.; 65/6327-1939; pttheadfolk.com).
Hong Kong: Mama San
Fans of the self-professed street-food chef Will Meyrick no longer need to travel to Indonesia for a taste of his Southeast Asian cooking. Teaming up with Hong Kong’s Dining Concepts group, Meyrick has opened an offshoot of his beloved Bali eatery Mama San on Wyndam Street in Central, bringing in tow chefs and staffers from the original Seminyak location alongside a reworked Indonesian- and Indian-influenced menu. Highlights include such reimagined dishes as betel leaf stuffed with pomelo, roasted coconut, and diced lime; sambal-spiced babi guling (suckling pig); and Goan mud crab in coconut curry. The restaurant retains its older sibling’s opium-den-meets-industrial-warehouse feel with retro-Shanghai decor and wood furnishings sourced from Bali. Up next from Meyrick: a fine-dining restaurant called Maluku, set to open later this year in Bali (1/F, 46 Wyndham St.; 852/2881-8901; diningconcepts.com).
This article originally appeared in the August/September 2014 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Island Hopping”)