Wahyudi Rahardja is owner of Emilie Restaurant, an upscale authentic traditional French cuisine eatery in southern Jakarta prime area. The restaurant is indeed his first venture, but this determined young entrepreneur has been staying on track in running his business. Opened in August 2006, the restaurant is the first and only one in town to receive the Award of Excellence 2007 from an American wine magazine, Wine Spectator.
WHY DO YOU LIKE TO LIVE IN JAKARTA?
Everything from the city’s diverse culture, my favourite mie ayam and kopi tubruk. Traffic jam is perhaps what makes most people to dislike Jakarta, but to me, it is part of a distinctive scene that makes the capital city unique even though it sometimes gets me headache. More importantly, the opportunity to make money is what I love about living in Jakarta. It is a good place for character and career building. Jakarta is also a forgiving city as you can be mediocre and get by comfortably.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST FRUSTRATION OF JAKARTA LIFE?
To get things done my way. It is hard to find qualified people to work with. And as for the food, bad onion soup is what I don’t like here. The key to overcome such frustration is to be coolheaded.
HAVE YOU LIVED IN OTHER CITIES BEFORE?
I have lived in Singapore, Boston and Los Angeles for 14, 4 and 2 years respectively. Jakarta is totally a different ball game. In achieving a success in Jakarta, you really have to struggle and strive more. And to have yourself fit in this society you do need to understand more about all the complexities of life here. It wasn’t easy for me in the beginning after a two-decade of living overseas, but in the end I was able to adjust as I’m Indonesian, born in Jakarta and nothing is better than to love who and what I am.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BUILDING IN JAKARTA?
I love the old architecture of buildings in Kota (downtown). It is sad, though, that they aren’t preserving those historically great buildings. I especially like the old Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank in Hayam Wuruk. It is simple and timeless.
HOW ABOUT YOUR FAVOURITE EATERY?
I love eating sashimi and Chinese food. As a matter of fact I eat these dishes almost everyday as they really satisfy my palate. However, if I have to choose between the two, I prefer Chinese food. And my most favourite Chinese restaurant is Crystal Jade.
WHAT LITTLE-KNOWN FACTS CAN YOU SHARE?
I love onion soup, but as I said earlier, it is hard to find the good one here. There is no sugar in onion soup; the sweetness comes from the caramelisation of the onions.
WHERE DO YOU SHOP?
I don’t shop very much. When I do, it is usually abroad, mostly in Singapore.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE WEEKEND LIKE?
Unless I’m out with my family or going out on dates (rarely), I spend most of my weekends working in my restaurant. My favorite weekend, therefore, is when my restaurant is busy and seeing my guests leaving the restaurant with great satisfaction.
By Aulia Rachmat, published in The Peak Magazine Indonesia, December 2008.