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In 1979, Handoyo Oedi left his homeland to study fashion in Berlin. At the age of 54, the fashion designer decided to switch trades and has been cooking Indonesian delicacies at Handoyo's Sate & Coffee since 2013.
When Handoyo Oedi opens his restaurant around noon in Berlin's tranquil Wilmersdorf neighborhood, sunlight streams in, setting the umber teak wood of the tables and chairs aglow. Handoyo Oedi had them produced in Java based on his own drawings. The restaurant that carries his name is designed to give guests a feel of modern Indonesia.
The shelf in the window displays photo albums featuring impressions of the country, the people, and the design, and a framed print on the wall – a comic strip – reflects one of Java's favorite pastimes. But Handoyo Oedi prefers to talk in person about Indonesia, the country he left behind in 1979 to study fashion at the Lette-Verein in what was formerly West Berlin.
He is particularly knowledgeable about Java, the most heavily populated of Indonesia's islands. That's where he gets his tea and some types of coffee. Handoyo Oedi grew up in Surabaya, a city of three million in East Java, which has risen to fame for its beautiful old town district and ambitious recycling program.
The restaurateur was born in Banjarmasin, the capital of the province of South Kalimantan on the island of Borneo. He met his wife and partner in the restaurant business, Birgit Oedi, during his studies.
The former fashion designer made the leap to the new industry at the age of 54. The small, charming restaurant, which opened on Ludwigkirchplatz in 2013, seats around thirty people with space for additional tables outside in the summer.
That leaves the couple plenty of time to individually greet their guests and prepare the meals and sauces themselves. The menu is also concise. Classic dishes include gado-gado (a salad made from steamed vegetables with tofu, egg, and crab chips) and sate ayam banjar, or chicken skewers with rice cakes. Naturally the peanut sauce is homemade.
Some of the restaurant's delicious snacks include lemper java, or small coconut sticky rice cakes wrapped in banana leaves which the Oedis fill with spicy chicken. Another house specialty is kopi jahe, a strong, low-acid coffee from Java brewed with ginger and spices and served by Handoyo Oedi with palm sugar and cream. Phenomenal, or as they say in bahasa Indonesia: 'feno-menal!'.
Author: Claudia Wahjudi
HANDOYO'S SATE & COFFEE