The story of Dapur Babah Élite
Dapur Babah Élite, the first culinary outing by Indonesia’s acclaimed Tugu Hotels & Restaurants Group, is set in a pair of refurbished 1940s shophouses located just off Jakarta’s central Merdeka Square on Jalan Veteran 1. This historic location was once one of old Batavia’s (former official name of Jakarta during the Dutch East Indies period) most fashionable streets, with most of its buildings owned by a rich sheikh from Yemen. The restaurant exudes a floating out-of-the-world kind of romance from every single corner, filled with beautiful artworks.
Anhar Setjadibrata, owner of Tugu Hotels & Restaurants and a long-time collector of Indonesian antiques, with daughter Lucienne, designed the restaurant and adjoining bar to capture the rich nuances of early 20th century Java. The result is a menagerie of period mementoes and paraphernalia, such as reclaimed teak furniture, rustic housewares (scales, meat grinders, pestles and mortars), and the signboard advertising Hap Liong Tailor, the shophouses’ original tenant. Rooms are painted in bold pastel-crayon combinations of red and green, black and red, purple and blue, while stone statues of Chinese, Hindu, and Buddhist gods smile down on diners.
All of these aspects of the culture are celebrated at Dapur Babah Élite, now one of the best dining addresses and the most romantic restaurants in Jakarta, elegantly decorated with photos of prominent Babah families, some fabulously wealthy, such as the powerful sugar baron Oei Tiong Ham, and many other artifacts of the colonial period, such as a bulky VOC emblem from the 17th century and a room separator from the Ming Dynasty.