Indonesian food is more subtly spiced than Malaysian, and more modest in flavour than Thai; it is delicate and delicious. Australian iterations of the national cuisine are often cheap and cheerful, catering to uni students looking for a quick nasi goreng. But at Makan, Tasia and Gracia Seger have changed that.
The Seger sisters appeared in the 2016 season of reality cooking show My Kitchen Rules. And they have translated their televisual chops to actual reality. The sisters ran pop-ups and private dinners, testing dishes and learning how to translate their home-style cooking into a commercial context before opening Makan.
The restaurant is like a hidden shelter made of soft concrete and black steel, bathed in purple neon. The walls are clad with custom-made hardwood ribbing. Walking into Makan really feels like being transported; a trip from the corporate office building into somewhere in Southeast Asia’s future.
The food served is mostly what the sisters grew up with, and dishes are prepared in ways that are honest to tradition. A fish dish from the fishing village of Jimbaran is glazed with sweet tamarind and simply grilled. A crepe roll is stuffed with chicken, fried, and served with a tangy peanut sauce. Braised oxtail served with green papaya in beef broth appears at every Seger family celebration, and the tempeh served with okra in a mild coconut curry was directly ripped off from the Seger’s grandma. The vast beef ribs are marinated, sous vide, then brushed with soy and grilled.
The pisang coklat is a traditional Indo street food composed of grilled banana, chocolate sprinkles and shaved cheddar. Here it is served more like a banana brûlée. It might sound strange, but it’s a menu highlight.