2013: The Year of Cronuts, Liquid Nitrogen and Martabak Toblerone. What's In Store for 2014?

If 2012 had been the year of Rainbow Cake (thank God it stopped in 2013!), then 2013 has been a cronuts, sorry, I mean crazy year for foodies in Indonesia. While we’re still early into 2014 let us take a look back at some of the most memorable culinary events in 2013.


2013 Food Events
International food events took place all across Asia, some were inaugurated in 2013, such as the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, which took place in February at Marina Bay Sands Convention Center, then there was World Street Food Congress that kicked off early June, also in Singapore, and in November, Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival. In Jakarta alone, there was not any majorly big events, apart from the annually held Jakarta Fashion and Food Festival and somewhat not so well publicized Jakarta Culinary Passport.

Verdict: There has not been any food events in Indonesia which possesses the international draw and standard matching those happening in Singapore and Hong Kong, except for one that might come quite close (but still not there yet), it was the month-long Jakarta Culinary Festival that last took place back in 2012.
Posing with Chris Salans, Owner and Chef of Mozaic in Bali

2013: Cronuts Craze
The obvious winner was Dominique Ansel’s phenomenal creation, named ‘cronuts’ for the ingenious hybrid of croissant and donuts. Besides making people desperately queue a few blocks down the road, this phenomenal pastry even got celebrities all over the world so curious. I once read the news about Emma Roberts who tried to abuse her stardom, but thank goodness Ansel’s Bakery is non discriminating and politely asked the starlet to queue at the end of the line. Even supermodels like Heidi Klum got her assistants queue and get the original cronuts and flew them in her private jet with her across the world, for her eager kids waiting at home. Talk about phenomenal. 

In Indonesia, the cronuts fever picked up quite later, about a few months later when Mandarin Oriental Jakarta claimed the right to brag about being the first to bring the dessert to eager foodies in Indonesia. Soon, more and more places and not just in Jakarta also start offering their own version of cronuts, some used the same name, while others invented their own terms such as ‘crodo’ or ‘dossant’ or ‘cronoughts’.

Verdict: like the rainbow cake, this too, was overrated. Although I admit to be guilty of being one of the first to buy the cronuts when Mandarin Oriental Jakarta first launched the cronuts.
Cronuts from the Cake Shop at Mandarin Oriental Jakarta

2013: Liquid Nitrogen
The fascination with this magic liquid only picked up pace late in 2013 after it was introduced by an ice cream parlour, LIN Artisan Ice Cream. First timers seeing it was very fascinating indeed, it was as if like some sort of alchemy was taking place, but after that, actually it got kind of boring. Anything with liquid nitrogen, in essence is just some flavoured beverage in liquid form, which changes state after being passed over the liquid nitrogen.

Verdict: Liquid nitrogen as a food preparation method does not pose any hazard to the body, so it is safe for consumption. Liquid nitrogen ice cream actually taste pretty normal and from my experience, it seems to melt more quickly than conventionally prepared ice creams. Except for the fact that it only takes a few minutes to freeze and the enigmatic smog created when the liquid nitrogen transpires at room temperature, the novelty of liquid nitrogen will pretty soon lose its lustre.
The making of liquid nitrogen ice cream at LIN Artisan Ice Cream

2013: Martabak Toblerone
Oh, this culprit was and still is phenomenal in Indonesia. After one of Jakarta’s oldest martabak stall introduced new flavours: Skippy, Nutella and Toblerone, it got everyone literally obsessed. Right until this day, the queue at Martabak Pecenongan 65A is not getting any shorter, despite the copycats all across Indonesia. The demand for Martabak Toblerone is simply ridiculous. Some competitors gave up to the demand when ignorant customers ask if they have that flavour, while others copycat merely to cash in the fad.

Verdict: innovation is always good, it brings something new to the table, so kudos to the owners of Martabak Pecenongan 65A. I will be eagerly looking forward to more flavours innovation in 2014. But for the time being, please, enough for Martabak Toblerone, I’d rather stick with the good old chocolate rice and cheese martabak.
Making Martabak Tobelrone at Martabak Pecenongan 65A

There are several other food fads that happened in 2013, they were obvious and visible but somewhat overshadowed by the previous 3 fads. More and more home food businesses can make custom 3D cakes decorated with fancy and colourful icings or marzipans, many bubble tea stalls mushrooming in the shopping malls, the appearance of online restaurant reservation and listing websites such as Qraved, Abra Resto, Zomato, Makanluar, and many more, as well as food delivery services like klik-eat and foodpanda. In general, the people’s appetite and spending power are obviously growing, that is a sign of good economy, despite the price hike of gasoline and several food items like beef and soya bean.


So, what might foodies in this part of the world to expect in 2014:

2014: Price hikes, business closures and more packed lunches and rise of home catering services
With the recent price increase of LPG gas, expect to see prices climbing at the restaurants. To counter this, why not bring our own food from home? It would help to save a lot of our monthly budget on food and lunch boxes are mostly healthier and cleaner, it still depends on what you pack from home. So, offices in Jakarta might actually see their pantries more packed with staffs eating their lunches packed from home. On the more extreme case, some places will have to shut down their operation. I am predicting the rate of new restaurants opening will be slower than in 2013.

2014: The rise of artisan cafes
The growing existence of quality Indonesian coffee, local brewers and coffee experts is expected. Many local coffee experts and even international coffee companies are looking at Indonesia as a producer. 2014 is the year for the long overdue recognition that Indonesian coffee deserves. Actually I notice that this trend is already happening as more and more artisan cafes springing up not just in the capital Jakarta, but in other cities in Indonesia.
Affordable and Good Indonesian Coffee at Warung Kopi Sruput

2014: Food Events
The second Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants award ceremony will be hosted in Singapore and again, at Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre. It is a moment that haute foodies in Asia would be looking forward to and let us hope that Indonesia will make it on the list with better ranking than number 50.

I am keeping my fingers crossed for Jakarta Culinary Festival (Ismaya, do you read the not-so-subtle hint?) Observing the event pattern, it seems like this is a biennial event. 2012 did pretty well in bringing big international names like Mario Batalli, Andre Chiang, etc. So, let’s hope to see more big names in 2014, Jamie Oliver, Anthony Bourdain or Gordon Ramsay perhaps?

What do you think is going to be the next 'It' food in Jakarta? Maybe Cronuts Burger? (whoops!)

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