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The story of Indonesian restaurant which can survive over a decade in Shanghai

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News24xx.com - Ten years is a long time in Shanghai’s rapidly evolving dining scene, and in that time, the city’s first and only Indonesian restaurant, has witnessed many changes. 

Venny Haryanti, proprietor of Bali Bistro and long-time Shanghai resident, about how the restaurant has got to where it is today.

Venny Haryanti was born in Surabaya, but grew up in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta. During a business trip to Shanghai in 2003, Venny met with her husband, and moved to Shanghai in 2005 right after their wedding in Indonesia.


Bali Bistro was initially opened by a group of 7-8 Indonesian businessmen who lived in Shanghai, to create a place for the Indonesian community and government officials during the preparation phase of the Shanghai Expo in 2008. 

Since then, it’s become a platform for business and diplomatic events to introduce Indonesian cuisine to the diverse nationals living in Shanghai. 

During the Expo in 2010, Bali Bistro were an integral part of the Indonesian Pavilion and hosted numerous events organized by the consulate.


First, Bali Bistro used to be a restaurant operating on both floors, but it recently started a cafe called Balini Coffee on the ground floor to introduce Kalosi Toraja, coffee that’s grown on our very ownour organic farm in Sulawesi.

At the same time, Bali Bistro updated the style and menu and food presentation to be a bit more modern while keeping the basic Indonesian taste authentic.

In the last few years, Bali Bistro have won a few awards in the last few year. Bali Bistro also been named an official partner of the Wonderful Indonesia campaign by Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism.

As part of their effort to bring the experience of Indonesia to diners, Venny's restaurant host Balinese dance and Indonesian live band performances from time to time.

Some signature dishes in Bali Bistro's restaurant are for big parties: the tumpeng, or Volcano Rice, which needs to be ordered a day or two in advance. 

For lunch: Beef Rendang set (Bali Bistro's rendang was voted as CNN World?s best food in 2014), Ayam Goreng set, and Bakso (Beefball) are popular.

Bakso is the favorite dish of President Jokowi, the president of Indonesia. 

For dinner : the Gado-Gado, satay platters, Tahu Telor (tofu egg), Ayam Bakar (grilled chicken), and Garang Asem. 

The challenges that Venny currently face as a restaurant in Shanghai are just the usual – high rent, high labor costs, and ever stricter regulations.

"Our family business back home in Indonesia is in coffee. Our grandparents migrated from Quanzhou, Fujian to Indonesia and made a living by selling coffee to feed their 7 children. We now have vertically-integrated business that consists of our own farm, roastery, 130 coffee shops, and even a coffee processing company in Indonesia. I feel it?s our duty to introduce Indonesian coffee to China. Balini Coffee serves Kalosi Toraja from our own farm which has a very interesting history and is grown completely organically," Venny said.


Venny said for this industry, while fun and full of friendly people, isn’t as glamourous as it appears to be, "You must be ready for long hours of loving and managing people, receiving complaints, working on details, and having to continuously brainstorm creative ideas. If you’re here looking to make money in the short term,  you’re better off looking elsewhere"

 

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