“It’s good to stay at home.”
That’s the very lockdown-appropriate meaning of Jaen Jumah, a business founded during Covid by three out-of-work Indonesian chefs who are delivering Balinese food across Melbourne.
Ida Bagus Palguna, who’s been in Melbourne for eight years – and was working at Indonesian diner Makan before the lockdown – started the venture in August. He’s joined by Raphael Dreki (who’s currently working a couple of shifts a week at a restaurant in the CBD) and pastry chef Devina Wijaya.
Though Palguna’s the only chef who hails from Bali, all three love its culture and cuisine. The idea behind Jaen Jumah is to keep the island and its unique foods – which differ from other Indonesian dishes – front of mind, so Melburnians are keen to visit in future when international travel is safe again. (Eighty per cent of Bali’s economy relies on tourism, and its residents are struggling right now.)
And for the three chefs, it’s also a way to keep afloat financially while restaurants are closed. “Obviously as visa workers we don’t get Jobkeeper or any government support,” Dreki tells Broadsheet. “We mainly rely on our savings, so this idea is like killing two birds with one stone … We try to survive and support Bali as well.”
Unlike the rest of Indonesia (which has a majority Muslim population), Balinese food features pork. One popular dish well-known to tourists is babi guling – whole-roasted suckling pig served with pork satay, blood sausage and rice. That’s not on Jaen Jumah’s menu – but there is a pork shoulder dish with charred pork belly and crackling, plus lots of other local dishes Palguna grew up with.
The star is ayam betutu (Balinese spiced chicken) served with nasi campur, an Indonesian mixed plate that includes a scoop of white rice and small servings of other dishes – in this case a chicken sate skewer; sides of chicken crackling and floss; pulled jackfruit; raw spicy sambal; and steamed salad.
“It’s a dish based on Ida’s experience when he was a kid,” Dreki says. “Walking home from school he would always pass this small shop selling the two dishes and he’d always think, ‘One day when my parents let me eat out by myself, I’m going to this warung’. It’s what we call a small shop like a hawker stall.”
There’s also nasi campur with pepes tahu, a vegan dish of spiced tofu, silverbeet and oyster mushroom that’s steamed then grilled in a banana leaf, with saucy tempeh and a grilled jackfruit skewer.
And there are three sides to choose from: tempeh and green beans tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce; Balinese spiced salad with pork mince and diced crackling; or a vegan alternative with young jackfruit and coconut.
Just have a glass of milk at the ready – these dishes are loaded with chilli. “We eat chilli for breakfast,” Dreki jokes. “While you guys eat smashed avocados, we do smashed chilli. For an Indonesian I’m actually super weak [with chilli], but when I hang out with my Aussie mates they say I’m too strong.”
Soon the trio hopes to introduce jajanan pasar (a variety of Indonesian snacks and desserts), along with traditional tropical drinks.
“We’ve always seen Jaen Jumah as a long-term plan, and we all agree that this is just the beginning. We may go back to our normal working lives, but we believe that with Jaen Jumah, we can start doing something different in the future,” Dreki says.
Jaen Jumah delivers across Melbourne on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Pre-order only, minimum order of $30.