In our first series of kanversations, KANE Wares sat down with Alexander Gosal, and got to know the head chef behind Amy's Wine Bar's new Indonesian menu.
'This menu is essentially my love letter to Indonesia. As I continue to uncover these culinary gems across different parts of Indonesia, I want to take our customers with me on that journey of self discovery.'
What first ignited your love for cooking?
My love for cooking was sparked by my love for eating. Eating a good, heartfelt meal gives me an indescribable sense of joy and warmth, and I wanted to be able to gift that experience to others by cooking for them. My goal is to inspire others to love eating as much as I do.
Can you tell us more about your culinary journey?
I’ve always been passionate about food and have been fortunate to have worked with a variety of cuisines. I’m currently the head chef of Amy’s Wine Bar, a natural wine bar serving Southeast Asian cuisine and Two Men Bagel House (TMBH)’s first night concept. Amy’s was developed to provide a space to fuel the creativity and passions of TMBH’s chefs. During my time here, I’ve seen significant progression both personally and career-wise.
Over the last 8 years, I’ve explored Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Australian and molecular cuisines. I’ve always let my career be guided by the ability to explore different cuisines and its learning opportunities, as I always want to grow my knowledge and develop my techniques.
If you could dine with any chef, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
The late Anthony Bourdain, an American celebrity chef, author, and travel documentarian. I have so much respect for his open approach to trying new, international cuisines, and his advocacy for traditional, local street food. He’s never approached an ingredient or dish with prejudice, and is constantly curious about different cuisines. As a chef, I think it’s especially important to keep an open mind when trying out new cuisines, and to try and understand why certain ingredients are used and prepared the way they are.
Another chef I’d love to dine with is David Chang, founder of the Momofuku restaurant group. One thing that really struck me was his dream of providing classless dining – where if you want to eat, you have to be comfortable rubbing elbows with people from all walks of life.
This is something that we strive to do at Amy’s as well. There’s a reason why we don’t use luxury ingredients and keep our food affordably priced, while still delivering excellent quality – it's to make Amy’s accessible to the masses. We also focus on using local ingredients sustainably, meaning that whenever we purchase a raw ingredient, we try to use every aspect of it. For example, for our duck based Bakmie Rica Rica (meat noodles), we used every part of the duck to create this dish. You have slow-cooked duck confit mixed with noodles, where some parts of the meat are fried, minced, or shredded, deep fried and made into floss. We also used the leftover duck confit oil as seasoning for the noodles in this dish.
Congratulations on the launch of Amy’s new menu — I understand that it’s Indonesian-themed, can you tell us more about the inspiration behind the new menu?
This menu is essentially my love letter to Indonesia – although I was born in Jakarta, I’ve lived in Singapore since I was 6, so I really wanted to rediscover my roots. Every time I went back to Indonesia, I knew exactly which foods I craved, and which street stalls I looked forward to visiting the most. That wonder and excitement from eating delicious local food was something that I wanted to recreate for our customers.
This menu is a very personal one to me, as most of the items on the menu are my reimagination of the dishes I’ve eaten and tried. That list is still growing, as Indonesia is immensely large – there are so many different regions and indigenous tribes that have their own local dishes, flavors and cooking techniques. Even an Indonesian staple like sambals (chilli paste) differ across various regions due to their local resources. For example, Medan, a coastal island in North Sumatra, is known for their pineapple sambal, where the tanginess of the pineapple is used to complement seafood. On the other hand, Bandung, a city in West Java, is known for their strawberry sambal, as their surrounding land provides them with an abundance of quality strawberries.
We have such a diverse range of delicious food in Indonesia that unfortunately isn’t very well known. As I continue to uncover these culinary gems across different parts of Indonesia, I want to take our customers with me on that journey of self-discovery.
I do think that this menu will be a journey for everyone – even fellow Indonesians. A lot of what we’re serving at Amy’s isn’t generic or well-known Indonesian food – for example, buras (coconut milk rice dumpling wrapped in banana leaves) is from Makassar, my father’s hometown, and is an excellent alternative to ketupat (rice cake wrapped in coconut leaves) or lontong (rice cake wrapped in banana leaves).
If you had to pick one, which would be your favorite dish off of the menu?
You might not expect this but it’s the Charred Cabbage! It’s a humble, unassuming dish of charred cabbage served with peanut sauce, sambal and bawang goreng (crispy fried shallots) – ingredients that are the heart of Indonesian cuisine. Our Charred Cabbage dish also showcases the ethos of Indonesian cooking, which is to take simple ingredients and create flavour bombs that explode in your mouth. It’s also a crowd favourite!
Another dish I’m really proud of is our homemade buras – we chose to do it ourselves despite it being a very time intensive dish, as I really wanted to give our customers the full Indonesian experience.
Can you tell us more about the partnership between KANE Wares and Amy’s?
Eating is one of the few activities that encompass all 5 senses, and having aesthetically beautiful tableware is part of that experience. The vessels that carry our food have such a strong impact – both visually and sentimentally. The texture, material, finishing and shape of these dishes each craft such a different experience and atmosphere for our diners – evoking nostalgic memories and enhancing their dining experience.
The partnership between KANE Wares and Amy’s was an organic one, as we both believe in tableware being simple yet soulful. The raw and rugged textures of KANE Wares’ tableware really complement the nature of Indonesian cuisine and helped us enhance the narrative we wanted to tell with our food, which has translated into a more immersive and engaging dining experience for our customers.
Photos by Amy's Wine Bar.
Top left: Chicken ponogoro and pork jowl rembinga sates, plated on KANE Wares' Wabi-sabi Ecru Natsu Bowl.
Top right: Charred cabbage with bumbu kacang, sambal soto and bawang goreng, plated on KANE Wares' Wabi-sabi Ecru Natsu Bowl.
Bottom right: Es dessert with yoghurt granita, strawberry gastrique, banana caramel, avocado and almonds. Plated on KANE Wares' Wabi-sabi Ecru Ido Bowl.
Amy's Wine Bar is open every Thursday to Saturday from 6pm till late. They are located at 17D Lor Liput, Holland Village, Singapore 277731.
- Bakmie: Meat noodles
- Bakso: Meatball
- Bawang goreng: Crispy fried shallots
- Bee hoon: Rice vermicelli
- Bumbu: Sauce or paste
- Buras: Coconut milk rice dumpling, wrapped in banana leaves
- Chai poh: Preserved radish
- Es: Ice
- Kacang: Peanut
- Ketupat: Rice cake wrapped in coconut leaves
- Kriuk: Crackers
- Lontong: Rice cake wrapped in banana leaves
- Rica: Chilli pepper
- Sambal: Chilli paste
- Sates: Skewered and grilled meat
- Soto: A traditional Indonesian soup mainly composed of broth, meat, and vegetables