My exploration for Arumdalu food began few years back in 2012, 2 years before Arumdalu was opened. As the guy in charge of bringing the concept of our Sahang Restaurant, I need to find a direction for the resort when it is launched. Building a resort in one of the most secluded yet beautiful beachfront rainforest in Belitung island was an once-in-a-lifetime exciting opportunity yet a truly intense pressure as I need to think on what kind of concept that will attract people to come to Arumdalu once it is opened the door for guests and it must also matched the eco concept of the resort. Of course I would not bring other hotel concept because we want to be different and life changing. Moreover I believe this concept of food must be able to bring my guests to a whole new understanding of cuisine. But I was confused, what should I present? Then I flashback to my childhood.
I remember as a young boy, being brought by my parents every holiday to the mountainous area of Baturaden, central Java, to visit my grandmother who has a restaurant there, was indeed the experience that opened my eyes for food. Every morning she would met with all the traditional food suppliers that came to the front of the restaurant to offer the traditional produce of the day. From wild black chicken, water from Aren tree (for making brown javanese sugar), kampoeng eggs, and many more producers came. It fascinated me to learn about all these new things that I never forget until now.
Time flew and I was studying engineering in United Kingdom and I was fascinated again with the natural produce. In front of my house in Manchester there was a vegetable seller in a car stopping everyday selling all the natural vegetables and fruits from around Manchester. This simply reminded me of my childhood and I started cooking again through my curiosity of the fresh seasonal produce that surprise me each time I visited the vegetable shop. I started to find the beauty of what my grandmother always did when I was young. Different seasons bring different expressions and taste. I was so excited with this concept and I even started to notice that the apple that was sold in the beginning of summer and the one sold at the middle of fall have different taste! Fascinating! This can be the core of Arumdalu food where we work together with the local farmer and fisherman to create dishes with a taste of season and locality. Voila!
But again, I was still not satisfied and still very hungry with the knowledge of food. I believe Arumdalu needs something more than good food that dance with the season, but I think it needs to dance with the guests too! I started to look at recipe books, books, and books, watching more cooking demo, visiting food exhibitions, and visiting many food ingredients exhibitions and the more I do them, the more I started to feel I know nothing. Really like engineering indeed. hahaha but until one faithful day I heard about there was this guy that recently shaped the new direction for British cuisine, and putting back British cuisine in the gastronomy map. Yeap, that guy is no other than Heston Bluementhal of The Fat Duck at Bray!
I heard his fame everywhere in the news where he invented the new direction of British cooking of his time and with a restaurant truly unique, not located in the middle of a city, it made me very curious about this guy and his cuisine. I decided to book to eat at his restaurant in Bray, London. I wanted to feel myself what is a cuisine that can shape a nation direction. I never heard of that before at all and I was so curious.
Then the day came. I ate at his restaurant, the Fat Duck at Bray. It was truly far away from Manchester which require me to change train, train, train, and got into a taxi before reaching the main entrance, which is a small door too, making me more curious! But you know, inside a small door is always a big surprise and I was right.
Cuisine after cuisine surprised me and my 5 senses were evoked in a way I never felt before. I feel like a kid again, discovering my senses again, exploring my curiosity, and finally finding the answer to my quest: Evoking the 5 senses. One of my favourite dish is 'Oak moss' which is part of the few cuisines in one serving. A fog with a smell of a forest was made while eating the serving to evoke the feeling of being in the forest and foraging. It opened my mind completely about the definition of cuisine. Heston cuisines made me realise that in serving a meal to a guest, it is important not just to create delicious cuisine, but also giving an experience of a cuisine through their five senses. It is a feast, a celebration, an important moment in life.
That day at The Fat Duck shaped me to what I am now. Not that I am trying to be like him, but his philosophy put me to a realisation that there are possibility beyond what we know about what is cooking and it is our job to explore with our creativity. This understanding gave me a new concept to start in Arumdalu. Sahang Resto was then started with an idea of season and evoking the 5 senses. My team & I did research of the seasons, growing our own plants, collaborating with fishermen and farmers, communicating with the local community, and everything we can to make us understand where we are. The cuisines we serve in Arumdalu become the definition of season and evoking the 5 senses.
"The cuisines we serve in Arumdalu become the definition of season and evoking the 5 senses"
From this philosophy, we invented exquisite dishes that become the word of mouth of tourists visiting Belitung island. From the Bird in Cage which we present the meal with a Kaiseki-style cage, Rama Shinta with the Keris handle carefully crafted by Keris artisan, Mango Zori-ebi which is served with a plate designed to resemble the sea, and many more. We only uses the best ingredients of the seasons, pairing it with the architectural design of presenting the cuisine. We want our guest to understand the meaning behind each cuisine and truly tasting the cuisine beyond the taste in the mouth. An Architectural design of food.
"We want our guest to understand the meaning behind each cuisine and truly tasting the cuisine beyond the taste in the mouth. An Architectural design of food"
After 2 years of running, many new cuisines were born through innovations and this philosophy that excites our guests. Many have actually started to become regulars in our restaurant (we open our restaurant beyond just for people staying in the resort), and many bring back their families for holiday to Belitung just to stay and eat in Arumdalu. It is indeed a success story that I am proud to say, but this is just the beginning.
We want to grow more and more, learn deeper and deeper, and innovating innovating and innovating. We want to be a restaurant that can change the life of the people who eat our food. A restaurant that bring a positive impact on humanity. I am excited to see what can we achieve in the future but for now let me say it from the bottom of my heart, this success now only is achieved by the support of our guests. Thank you so much for your supports and we look forward on what the future holds for us. The best is yet to come :)
ps: Stay tune for our new innovations that we will announce soon! It's gonna be exciting!
This Article is written by Albert Arron P, the CEO of Arumdalu Private Resorts who is also the consultant and the food researcher for Arumdalu's Sahang Beachfront Resto